The Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2022 report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) released recently has cited taboo topics like sex and sexuality and harmful traditions as some of the reasons that hinder efforts to curb teenage pregnancies in West Pokot.
The report established that there are no adequate words describing sexuality, sexual health and sexual orientation in the Pokot language.
This has caused a lack of comprehensive sex education and inaccessibility and lack of knowledge around contraceptives, the erroneous sex-education culminating in unhealthy sexual practices.
The report also revealed that West Pokot County has the highest number of teenage pregnancies at 36 per cent, an increase from 29 per cent in 2014.
County Children’s Officer Phillip Wapopa says that stigma around sex and sexuality guarantees that such issues are never publicly discussed.
He lamented that most children are sexually abused and that during long holidays, child pregnancies and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) skyrocket.
He pointed out that the county is coming up with a children protection policy, which is now ready for validation.
“The policy will enable the county government to have a budget for child protection concerns,” he said.
John Chege, Project Officer at the Gender Violence Recovery Center, lamented that children in the region are very vulnerable due to harmful practices like child marriages, FGM and Gender Based Violence (GBV).
Domtilah Chesang, the Director of Irep Foundation, said they support girls who have run away from the retrogressive practices.
She noted that so far, the foundation is currently supporting over 50 girls and boys in different learning institutions.
She lamented that in some cases, parents flatly refuse to educate their children, opting instead to marry them off.
By Evans Kapusia
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