Child marriages and teen pregnancies are on the rise, with Laikipia county registering 15,000 cases in the last three years.
In Mukogodo forest in Laikipia North, most girls have been forced to drop out of school due to teen pregnancies, contributing to the low enrollment in schools.
Monica (not her real name) was only 8 years old when she ran away from her home after her mother tried to force her into marrying a 72 year old man.
She explains that due to the high level of poverty and the harmful cultural practices in the area, her family decided to marry her off.
“I sought refuge from a safe house within Doldol town but was forced to return home after the government ordered for the closure of all safe houses and rescue centers during the Covid-19 pandemic,” she explains, adding that she then got into a relationship with one of the village boys to avoid being married off to an old man.
“I also wanted someone to provide for my basic needs,” she said, revealing that when she conceived, she found out that her boyfriend was her close cousin hence they could not get married.
Her mother kicked her out of the house since they couldn’t afford to raise her child or marry her off since she already had a child.
Nancy (not her real name) dropped out of school aged 16 due to lack of school fees. She conceived and her boyfriend abandoned her, a situation that made her family to disown her.
At some point, she contemplated suicide.
Luckily, for both Monica and Nancy, One More Day for Children Foundation came to their rescue.
The organization’s Executive Director Dr. Hellen Gathogo started a safe house in the region after knowing of the many cases of girls being subjected to early marriages, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and teen pregnancies.
She stated that after the teen mothers deliver, the organization makes arrangements to ensure the girls get back to school.
By Macharia Kiarie
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