Seven girls from one secondary school in Kuresoi North have dropped out after falling pregnant in the past four months.
The girls, aged between 14 and 16 years, are the latest victims of increasing cases of defilement and teenage pregnancies in the county.
Nakuru County Gender Officer, Vivian Yegon said teachers got concerned about the girls when they suddenly stopped being active during class and games, prompting the medical tests that revealed they were pregnant.
Ms.Yegon said area children’s officer and local administrators were working with the police to arrest the men responsible for defiling the minors from Kiptororo Secondary School.
“Last year we recorded 52 cases of teenage pregnancies in this region. Some of the girls have named the men responsible for their pregnancy. Most of the culprits are Boda-boda riders,” she said.
Ms.Yegon expressed concern at the rising incidents of teenage pregnancies in the region, saying efforts by her office and Ministry of Education officials to fight the menace did not seem to be bear results.
“We have established that the culprits waylay the minors at dawn when they are heading to school and in the evenings on their way back home. Kuresoi North’s terrain seems to be working in favour of defilers as the girls have to pass through valleys and bushes on their way to and from school,” observed the gender officer.
Maendeleo ya Wanawake Chairperson Eunice Lelei attributed the mess to outdated cultural practices, parents and the community, accusing themof neglecting children and abdicating their responsibilities.
“Girls are made to feel they are old enough after undergoing FGM. They end up engaging in sexual activities and in the end get pregnant and drop out of school. Culture here also inhibit women from talking openly about their woes thus aggravating the situation.
We are no longer monitoring what our children are doing, that is why they are getting exposed to irresponsible behaviour,” said MsLelei.
Maendeleo ya Wanawake chairperson alleged that the matter was made worse by the fact that many parents prefer out of court settlement of the cases with the culprits, after receiving some form compensation, instead of reporting them to the police for legal action.
Ms.Lelei regretted that though enrolment of girls in Standard One to Standard Three is high the gains are watered down by the high rate of dropouts in the upper classes due to teenage pregnancies.
“The rate at which girls are dropping out of school is worrying. All stakeholders should work together to ensure girls are retained in school. Those who are already pregnant or affected in any way should be counseled so they can gain the courage to resume studies after delivering
A form two student at Kiptororo Secondary (Name withheld) who narrated her ordeal to newsmen claimed that though she reported to her grandmother that she had been defiled no action was taken against the culprit.
“Three men took advantage of my physical disability and defiled me on various occasions. When I reported to my grandmother she refused to pursue the matter and claimed I was to blame for my predicament,” said the 16 year old orphan.
Ms.Yegon urged parents to discuss reproductive health matters openly with their teenage girls and explain to them the importance of avoiding sex and reporting sexual assault.
“Chiefs should be at the forefront of identifying the culprits and reporting them to the police. Those who collaborate with criminals should automatically lose their jobs,” she suggested
In 2018 Ministry of Education threatened to arrest parents whose underage daughters get pregnant and they fail to report those responsible to the police.
Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang warned that parents who enter into social arrangements with the offenders to circumvent the law would also be arrested.
“We shall go to those villages where people make local arrangements. We shall arrest anybody, including the parents, who engage in these backroom deals while they compromise the future of their children,” he said.
“These girls are underage, so we cannot talk of consent. It is actually defilement. This is a question of assault, which makes it a security threat,” Dr.Kipsang said, attributing them to ‘kangaroo courts in villages’.