Over 4000 school girls in Machakos County have been impregnated in last three months. Among these, 200 are under 14 years of age.
This is according to the County Children’s Officer Salome Muthama speaking on Tuesday during the celebrations to mark the Day of the African Child at Machakos Rescue Center in Katoloni, Machakos town.
Ms Muthama described the situation as worrying. She assured that legal action would be taken against those responsible for the beastly action. The Children’s officer blamed the long school holiday occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic for the upsurge and implored parents to take more responsibility over their children.
“As we celebrate this day here today, just within this Covid-19 period alone, some 4000 girls have been impregnated in our county!” Ms Muthama declared as she blamed parents for not taking keen interest in bringing up their children thus exposing them to the trickeries of wayward adults and bad peer influence.
“This is a very big number and I am calling upon parents to involve themselves fully in taking care of their children especially the girl child,” the officer added.
She noted that following the partial lockdown of major towns like Nairobi and Mombasa due to Covid-19 pandemic, most parents had sent their children to the rural areas where they are being taken care of by aged grandparents who are unable to take keen care of the youths.
“These helpless grandmothers are not able to closely watch over the youths, and as a result the young ones are introduced to bad habits or even molested by peers and other unscrupulous people thus leading to such calamities such as these pregnancies,” she observed.
She said it was not enough for the parents to send food and money from the towns for the children they had dumped at their own grandparents’ homes noting that it behooves them to stay with their children and mentor them.
“Parents should stay with their children so that they watch over them closely and provide appropriate guidance instead of dumping them at their grandparents’ homes claiming that they are protecting them from the Corona pandemic,” she noted.
At the same time Muthama urged those charged with the dispensation of justice to children to make deliberate efforts to eradicate delays in the process. She particularly called on the police to fast track cases involving children so that justice is dispensed with promptly and the children allowed to go on with building their lives.
She told those attending the celebrations whose theme was “Access to a child-friendly justice system in Africa” that delays in dispensation of justice to children amounted to denial of their rights.
“Cases involving children should take at most six months to resolve but here in Machakos some take up to two years or more,” she lamented.
Noting that delay of children’s cases amounted to a denial of their rights, she added, “Children attend court either as offenders, victims or witnesses, and every time a case drags, the children are being denied opportunity to either attend school or other matters that affect their future lives,” she noted.
The children’s officer similarly appealed to members of the society who are witnesses in cases involving children not to shy away from attending court, but come out and participate fully so that the cases are solved promptly.
And reacting to the shocking news, Machakos Women Representative Joyce Kasimbi condemned the wave of pregnancy among children and said local grassroots leaders should explain how it happened.
She said parliament would pass a law that will ensure that anybody who impregnates a child will be held responsible.
Similar sentiments were expressed by two DCI officers who warned of dire consequences.
Speaking when they joined children of at Mwisoo Children’s home in Kyawango, Maau-eli in Mwala, to celebrate the Day, Machakos Sub County DCI boss Rhoda Kanyi and her Mwala counterpart Catherine Kinoti said the law will be brought to bear on those found molesting minors.
“Men who sleep with minors must be warned that the law will definitely catch up with you,” they warned.