Kitui County has reportedly recorded an alarming 3, 207 teen pregnancies since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country in March.
According to a report by KNA, Kitui Children Officer Augustine Nyamai on Monday said the numbers could be more.
“We suspect that there could be more unreported cases within the community that have not been documented. We have joined hands with security agencies, Ministry of Health and NGOs such as World Vision to mitigate this vice,” Nyamai said during a community awareness campaign against teen pregnancies in the county.
According to the Children officer, parental laxity, lengthy closure of schools, and poverty has exposed the girlchild to pedophiles.
Nyamai noted that the loss of livelihoods due to the corona crisis, particularly in low-income households, may force some children into income-generating activities to support their families.
“Lengthy school closure has stopped the provision of school meals and sanitary towels, which children from disadvantaged families rely on significantly,” said Nyamai.
Lower Yatta Deputy County Commissioner Gerald Mutuku confirmed that police with the help of chiefs and village elders are tracing the men responsible for the pregnancies.
“Let those responsible for teenage pregnancies rest assured that we shall apprehend and prosecute them. The government is committed to protecting the rights and welfare of minors in this country,” said Mutuku.
The deputy commissioner further cautioned parents and guardians against hiding the pregnancy of their under-age daughters.
“We are also aware parents and village elders have been holding kangaroo courts to mediate between the culprits and the aggrieved families. We shall not allow the rights of the children to trampled upon, those found in contravention of the law will be arrested and taken to court,” said the administrator.
Kitui and Machakos Counties World Vision Manager Winfred Mukonza noted that some of these teen pregnancies could be are as a result of sexual violence, which is projected to rise during Covid-19 lockdowns.
“Our hope is in children. The lengthy closure of schools has affected the girl child due to exposure to pedophiles when they go out in search of water or fetch firewood. This campaign is meant to create awareness and mitigate the abuse.
“We are extremely concerned about their wellbeing and their access to health care and other support services,” said Mukonza.