2013 VOF Week 3: Teenage Pregnancies Holding Back Young Girls Future
In all sense of the word she was like the sweet smell of a rose, no wonder aunt named her Rosie. We would play together over the weekends after a long week at school. I wanted to be with her all the time. Rosie wasn’t only a cousin to me, but she was my best friend. In class she excelled highly and when I turned three I sneaked to school for the first time. Sat in her class with her that’s how our adventures grew.
I knew she was poised for a bright future. In her I saw a doctor who would eventually heal grandmother’s chronic cancer disease. I just hoped she would become soon enough so that grandmother would not succumb to this deadly disease.
Day by day, Rosie grew into a beautiful young woman. Unlike me she seemed to be growing each minute and that was the beginning of trouble. Young boys, in pretense of studying together with Rosie would flock our homestead. Sometimes grandmother seemed uncomfortable, other times her temper would just fly and everyone would be kicked out of the homestead. I didn’t understand her. I thought she was being insensitive.
The following year at thirteen years, Rosie would change. She no longer wanted me around her. In my naivety I thought she needed lots of time to study for her final exams. I didn’t fight her; I wanted the best for her. But she changed; she stopped being the beautiful and loving cousin she was. She was grumpy and always complaining about this and that. What made her change?
One evening, she appeared at grandmother’s door step, with eyes down cast. She was on the verge of crying and we did not know what had gone amiss. She refused to eat that evening and when grandmother prodded her about her status she let out a soft whisper “granny I am through with school.” I wondered what this was all about.
For days she did not go to school. I wanted to know what was going on but no one seemed keen enough to explain to me what had happened to her. One day after school, I found many relatives at home, Rosie wasn’t in sight. Grandmother’s expression expressed contrasting emotions. One moment she would be smiling the next a sad person filled with regrets. Then I heard a baby cry. That’s when I knew why Rosie hadn’t been going to school this year. She was a mother. At thirteen, she was already a mother!
That’s how I knew all the dreams we had in Rosie would be unfulfilled. My cousin is just one among the many young girls who drop out of school because of early pregnancies. In rural Kenya about 45% of young girls are victims of this phenomenon that is prone in sub-Saharan Africa. Just like other continents where young people are highly sexually active, Kenya is no exception. In 2012, there was a sad story televised of an 11-year old who was raped by a neighbor.
Unfortunately for her, she was impregnated and at 11 years old she had to forget the joys of being a child and become a mother. Sadly, for the stepmother that she lived with did not take heed when the young girl told her that the neighbor had carried out this unfortunate act on her.
While the young girls are the only ones who bear the brunt of the society, it is unfortunate that young people are involved in unprotected sex, exposing them to other risks such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Moreover, becoming a young parent means that this young people who are both immature and unemployed are a burden to their families as parents have to fend for them and their offsprings. I have witnessed how my cousin has been a victim and how she had to quickly learn to become a parent.