Nancy* (not her real name), is a 16-year-old form three student in a girls’ school in Kitui county. Since the schools closed down indefinitely in March, she confesses that she has had multiple sexual partners; some adults, others her age.
Speaking to our undercover reporter, she disclosed that she had no other choice but to indulge in the early sexual debut; given the financial situation of her family during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
Nancy’s mother worked as a bartender in local nightclubs within Kitui town before the coronavirus forced the entertainment joints to close. Now she earns barely enough to afford the family two square meals per day, and in most days, Nancy and her two siblings are forced to go hungry for a whole day.
“Having a boyfriend is the in-thing now,” laughed off Nancy, “You get money, you get data to study online, and you can’t go hungry.”
“Plus, you don’t get bored or lonely during this lockdown period,” she added.
Nancy* is not the only girl in Kitui who has had an early sexual debut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of other girls have found themselves into the same situation within the three months period the schools have remained closed due to COVID-19. According to data from the Hospital Information Management Systems(HIMS), approximately 1000 school girls have been impregnated in Kitui County alone, within this period.
On Wednesday 24th June 2020, a joint operation by sub-chiefs from Majengo, Kalundu, and Township areas in Kitui Town nubbed over sixteen pregnant school girls, with the intention of interrogating them to find out who the culprits were.
We posed the question to the County Minister for youth, sports, gender, and cultural services Patrick Koki Musau: What is making these girls to be drawn into drugs and irresponsible sexual behaviors, and what can be done about it?
In his response, the minister suggested increased economic stimuli for the families living in informal settlements and rural areas, to enable the parents(who are low-income earners) to provide for their families, thus minimizing the allure of boyfriends to provide.
“We also need to come up with safe ways for our school children to engage in sports and cultural activities,” stressed Mr. Musau,” It is the idleness also, that’s playing as a key factor in the increased sexual activity among the adolescents and youths in our community.”
The county ministry of education has however denied any association or responsibility on the matter. When the Kitui Newspaper tried to get in touch with the minister, David Kivoto, he never confirmed and appointment to discuss the matter and went ahead to deny that this had anything to do with his ministry.
“My ministry only deals with Kids at school,” he dismissed the topic. “What they do at home is none of our business,” He added.
Recently released statistics have shown that over 4000 school girls have been impregnated in the past three months.