Girls’ safety, our collective responsibility

If sex is a choice why chose a minor and not adult? If sex is optional, why force it with a minor? If it’s for adults, why engage with students? Why take advantage by luring her into early sex?

Her routine has always been from home to school from school to home but now she is at home, pregnant. She is facing hard times, she pleads at home but even society keeps ignoring her. But you man/boy of rightful senses take advantage of her, her virginity and leave her with the burden of nine months at home with no schooling. 

Who is to be blame here? Of course all of us because the responsibility of taking care of these young girls to eliminate this heinous act that sends them to early marriages, forces them to be school dropouts or even encounter health problems such as fistula and even death as a result of unsafe abortions among the rest, is bestowed upon all the right thinking members of the society.

With COVID-19 and its containment measures on our doors, with tough economic times and everything seeming to be on hold, adolescents and young people have a lot of free time in their hands. It is therefore imperative to understand that this pandemic has brought a lot of things on board except the consideration of young people’s sexuality. As a youth champion and a community agent of change, working together with young people, I call upon the community, young people, parents, teachers and policymakers to take action in ensuring that our girls are safe during and after this pandemic since this is a challenge that existed even before COVID-19.

According to Ministry of Health, teenage pregnancies are on the rise. The Government is REALLY trying with chiefs’ local administration but it’s not ENOUGH!  Well, do you need a prophet to tell you that if we DON’T STAND against this we will have MORE PARENTS in school???/ Take Charge, Watch Out for Your Sisters, PROTECT OUR GIRLS!!!!!

Here’s how you can make a difference

     Parents

  • Accept that times are changing, and teenagers need to access SRHR information and services
  • Have open and non-judgmental discussions with your children on age appropriate SRHR information
  • Support teenage parents and avoid blaming/ shaming them
  • Remember that teenage pregnancies increase the level of dependency to you as parents leading to advanced poverty.

 Community

  • Ensure that communities are safe spaces and sources of SRHR information for youth
  • End stigma against teenage pregnancy in the community and advocate for policies
  • Advocate for youth friendly services and the need for age appropriate sexuality education in schools
  • Teachers and Religious leaders should use their platforms to start and support conversations on teenage pregnancy
  • Youth Champions, CHVs and other CORPS to be agents for referrals towards quality health services for adolescents = reduced teenage pregnancy

Young people

  • Be aware of your sexual reproductive health and rights
  • Take charge of your bodies and understand the consequences of teenage pregnancy
  • Know that being pregnant is not the end of life. Go back to school and achieve your dreams
  • Remember, age appropriate sexuality education provides correct, actual information that aids you to make informed choices.
  • Health Facilities offer youth friendly services & information important to young people.

Policy Makers & Counties

Have budgetary allocations for SRHR services for young people; Ministry of Health-service providers continuously train on Youth Friendly Services to reduce stigma and discrimination; Implement SRHR policies to reduce teenage pregnancies among young people living with disability and other marginalised groups; Ministry of Education must implement sexuality education in our schools; MOH and counties –Young people want fully functional and quality youth friendly services in every county; A multi-sectorial approach is needed to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancies in Kenya (MOE, MOH); The justice system– Act and protect girls from all forms of sexual violence; Do we have safe houses for teenage girls who are pregnant and have no family support?

by Steve Juma, Youth Champion , Homabay

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2 thoughts on “Girls’ safety, our collective responsibility”

  1. Victorine Tom

    Our males equally needs sensitization so that they not see the females as sex objects but as their mothers and sisters. Not as people to quench their sexual thirst but as equal partners in life

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