I find those small little articles on the margins of papers very interesting…especially because that is where juicy health pieces tend to hide. This Saturday (29th March 2014) had this little piece.
Stories of women dumping newborns in pit latrines in my village were heard every once in a while but that appeared to have ceased. Now that condoms are strewn all over the maize shamba’s in the villages, I thought this surely is a thing of the past, so this little article really hit me.
That a teenager was aborting in a loo in this day and age is just too saddening. But the story, according to Guttmacher Institute is not pretty for the whole county. Check out a fact sheet prepared by the African Population and Health Research Center
and you see an ugly picture. This survey, conducted in 2012 tells us that there were 465,000 induced abortions in Kenya in that one year alone. About 120,000 of these women received post-abortion care. The sad fact is that about half of those with severe consequences from their abortion that sought medical help, were 19 years old and under. Perhaps for a combination of factors, that the girls are so desperate, they will try anything, that they do not know where to go and that they do not have the money to spend on safer methods.
While young girls die before they receive post-abortion care and some loss the ability to ever have a children, we are still debating as a nation, whether we should ever talk about sex in schools. Whether teenagers need to know about family planning or not.
But it’s not just teenagers, according to the Kenya demographic health survey (2008-2009)
43% of births were reported as unwanted or mistimed.
There is a serious lack of contraceptives and education on contraception, even among the married. Statistics say that 1 out of every 4 married women has an unmet need for contraceptives in Kenya.
In Kenya, abortion is only allowed where there is ‘need’:- i.e the health worker believes that pregnancy is a danger to the mother or in emergency cases.
I believe that is fair. The problem is not just the unsafe abortions, it’s the hundreds and thousands of children being born to women who are not prepared to have children. While girls drop out of school or perform unsafe abortions like the poor girl from Baringo, we continue to debate whether primary school children need to have some knowledge about sex and contraception. That poor girl is right now being treated as a criminal and I bet she will be treated in a manner that will ‘send the right message to the girls of Baringo’. It is too much to fathom how her baby died.
How long shall be continue to defend the ‘innocence’ of our children and deny them vital information? Would you rather pick out a newborn rotting in the loo than let your child know there are options out there? Shall we pretend that we had no sexual feelings at 15 and all these hit us at 28?