The Star (Kenya)
Meru activists raise alarm over rising cases of teen pregnancies
KNA/ Meru activists have raised the alarm over increasing cases of teen pregnancies.
Last year’s closure of schools for nine months has been blamed for the sharp rise.
Ripples International executive director Mercy Chidi says family members and the girls’ friends are responsible for more than 70 per cent of the cases.
The organisation focuses of children’s rights.
Chidi said teenage pregnancies are a constant reminder of the persistent sexual abuse in the community.
“This is a ticking bomb, we need to address it before it gets out of control,” she said.
She said concerted efforts are required for an entrenched communal responsibility in protecting child rights.
“Many teen mothers have given birth recently and there is a need to offer both emotional and financial support,” Chidi said.
She asked the government to allocate more resources to address the menace. “Barely a day passes without one hearing of a case of abuse of children rights.”
Chidi said the law should be reviewed with tougher penalties for offenders. She also called on the
government and community-based organisations to raise awareness on reproductive health.
Parents and guardians should also be more vigilant to ensure their children’s rights are not abused. “Let every parent take full responsibility for their children’s whereabouts, especially when they are at home for the holidays,” Chidi said.
Igembe South Children Officer John Mwangi said the trend has been persistent with teen mothers accounting for half of hospital deliveries.
Mwangi cited parental neglect and peer influence as the main contributors to the rising cases of teen pregnancies. He said they will ensure perpetrators of child abuse are prosecuted.
Data from the county’s health department shows 14,573 girls aged between 10 and 19 were impregnated in Meru in 2020.