Who is impregnating our teenage daughters?

Who is impregnating our teenage daughters?
Statistics from the Population Secretariat and United Nation Fund for Population Activities-Uganda, show a 24 per cent increase in teen pregnancies, 12 per cent of these ending in unsafe abortions. Research also shows an increase in sexual activity among the youth, but the teenage boys are not the ones responsible for the teen pregnancies. Who then is? find out. Counselors recommend that sex education should be taught to children from Primary Seven to Senior Six. This implies that 13 year-old Rehema (not real name), who is in Primary Six, is not eligible to sit in a sex education session. Even if she were âripeâ to attend one, you would be tempted to ask her to stay away. She looks more like a 10-year-old. But, this girl, whose mind is not mature enough to conceive the nitty-gritty of sex (according to counsellors), engaged in it and she is pregnant. She was raped by her step-father. Rehema is thin, which is why the slight bulge on her stomach cannot miss the eye. Her eyes are beady. They are directed at the window for the better part of the interview. Her voice is toneless. She does not sound afraid of or concerned about the rigours of carrying a foetus for nine months. She told me her ordeal in Runyankole. Iâm carrying my stepfatherâs child It was night time. Mum had been admitted to hospital. My stepfather entered our bedroom, and dragged me out of bed. He slapped my younger brother when he asked what he was doing. With a firm grip, he led me to his bedroom. I had no idea what awaited me. He tied my legs, apart, on the bed posts. It is then that I learnt what he was up to. I could not shout out for help. My mouth was covered with his hand. He then lay on top of me and raped me, narrates Rehema. The 13-year-olds step-father then told her that he would kill her if she revealed to anyone what he had done. 14-year-old Nagadyaâs baby is Chinese Nagadya (not real name) is also pregnant and the baby she is carrying is Chinese! She is thin but, unlike Rehema, Nagadya sounds acrid, bitter that she was betrayed by someone she and her family consciously trusted. After Nagadya had completed Primary Seven, she was unable to proceed to Senior One because her parents did not have the financial means. To make ends meet, she got a casual job at a factory around Kampala. One of her employers offered to pay her fees, apparently out of pity. He contacted her parents and offered to take her back to school. He did this for a couple of terms. Over time, the employer requested that Nagadya visits his home to help with chores, something her parents thought was a fair bargain. During one of those visits, the 14 year old was raped by her sponsor, who later fled the country. Now Rehema and Nagadya are months away from being mothers. Seeing them walk away, after telling their stories, all I can imagine is how these babies will deliver fellow babies. The boda boda cases, and many more Vivian Kityo, the director of Wakisa Ministries, a centre for rehabilitating pregnant teenagers, cites rape, poverty and an ineffective sex education programme as reasons for increasing teen pregnancies. She remarks that 80 per cent of the cases of 13 to 16-year-olds that the ministry receives are rape-related. The girls are waylaid, or ignorantly lured by the rapists. This is at times while on their way from running late evening errands or in the wee hours of the morning on their way from night prayers. There are two Congolese girls we received. They were hawking jewelry when a prospective buyer invited them to his home so his wife could make her choice. He closed the door when they entered the house and raped them both, says Kityo. Incest is also on the rise as was with Rehemas case. There is another case which we handled, where a young girl was raped by her uncle. This girls mother was abroad doing kyeyo, and her uncle, who had been entrusted with her care, raped her. All this stems from the moral degeneration that our society is facing today. The needs that lure the prey Kityo says the inability by some teenagers to endure the effects of poverty in their lives leads them into the traps of men responsible for their pregnancies. Nagads story is a good illustration of how this comes into play. Boda boda riders dominate this category of abusers. The boda boda rider fills a gap by offering a girl who would otherwise walk to school a lift. By the third ride, he has earned the girls trust. He may also give her Shs5,000, which she uses to buy a pair of sandals her parents cannot offer. On the fourth occasion, when the boda boda man rides her to his home, she may not be aware of his devious intentions. By the time she realises, she has been raped,states Kityo. She reveals that her ministry once received a case of two girls who were impregnated by the same boda boda man. Of the inadequate sex education, Kityo says, Recently, I was invited by a school in western Uganda to conduct a sex education lesson. The secondary level girls were asking petty questions like whether HIV can be spread through kissing a boy! There is a way forward These children should be taught practical aspects like the difference between love and lust. They should be informed that love can wait but lust cannot. Coach them on how to say no, firmly. Tell them that they are not sex objects. A girl with this kind of knowledge is more likely to say no when sex is demanded from her, says Kityo. Christine, a victim of rape, and teen pregnancy, says that the way forward is to carry out mass sensitisation of the teenagers and giving severe punishments to the offenders. Most of the sensitisation programmes stop in urban areas. I also think that stern punishments will send strong messages to would-be rapists and defilers to stop the vice, reasons Christine. That she has been there and felt the pain of early teen pregnancy, Twinamatsikos words of caution are worth reflecting and implementing. About Wakisa Ministries Located in Bakuli, Mengo, it was founded in 2005 by Vivian Kityo, a retired midwife, to take in young pregnant girls who have been rejected by their families. After they give birth, they can only stay for two weeks before they rejoin their families. The facility has a sponsorship programme that so far boasts of a graduate, three university-going young mothers, and many pupils. Which teens get pregnant? Between 2005 to 2011, the centre that accommodates a maximum of 20 teenagers at a time, would sometimes have unoccupied beds. However, they have since 2011 remained full to capacity, with a big waiting list. Kityo says the biggest number of child-bearing teens at Wakisa are: From lowincome households. Teenagers from the well-to-do families, however, also contribute to the growing teen pregnancy statistics although most are aware about contraceptives and can afford them. Their (some) parents can also facilitate abortions. Half of them are from single parent families because they are missing out on the love of their absentee fathers. They fall easily for I love you from a man and interpret sex as love. Some of the single parent teens that we take in tell us that they gave in to sex because the men convinced them that they would show them love by sleeping with them says Kityo.


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