Locking out teen mums won’t help anyone

Monday June 26 2017

 

By Issa M Omari

I want to strongly support the excellent and well written letter by Janet Otieno in The Citizen of May 2, 2017 on the above subject.

I have since then read an excellent article from Unicef by the education officer there, Ms Cecilia Baldeh. This was followed up by a nice article by Suzan Mwilo, headlined: “Wito: Waliopata ujauzito waendelee na masomo” (Mwananchi newspaper, June 13) Then I reviewed a very good research report of November 2011 by Haki Elimu with the title “Watoto wetu waendelee na Masomo baada ya kujifungua: Watanufaika wenyewe, watoto wao, na jamii.” This field based report found that among those victims:

l A few get married and join the vicious circle of poverty;

l Many are forced by poverty to join prostitution ;

l Many join the illicit business of drinks and hashish conduits;

l Some kill themselves due to depressions, embarrassment and poverty;

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l Many attempt to abort with all the associated risks of death and spoilt urethra;

l A few join machinga business and criminality

With all these negative consequences of throwing these girls out of school, it is really disturbing that some women leaders, and especially mothers, would say that the teen mothers shouldn’t be allowed to resume their studies as culpable fathers go scot free.

Worse still, the President of the country supports that position. I consider it strange indeed. First of all, most of those girls who get premature pregnancies are from poor families and never willingly chose to get pregnant as much as they may have been lured, enticed, threatened, or even bribed to have sex with immoral men and boys who should be severely punished, and not the poor girls.

Otherwise it is a double tragedy for the girls get pregnant unwillingly and then be sacked from schooling.

In fact pregnancy itself, for the young girl, is a heavy punishment, then taking care of a baby is a great burden as we see these girls in the streets, with the babies badly taken care of as the men run away or are just as poor to help with child caring of the child they sired.

Some of the teen mothers are orphans, or with single parents, or from divorced families.

There is no evidence that these teen mothers are pathological and that they are likely to do it again or regress to prostitution or contaminate others.

In fact, evidence shows that they don’t repeat the act and many succeed when allowed to go back to school.

We are relying too much on guess work, personal inclinations, religious beliefs, and indoctrination and not scientific evidence.

Let us look at better ways of taking care of the infants in children’s homes while the young girls resume their studies, and be given intensive counselling and guidance on how to avoid premature pregnancies.

Our schools haven’t done much on this area. There should also be more serious campaign for men to stay away from school girls. Remind them of the 30 years in jail plus hard labour. Of repeat teen schoolgirl mothers shouldn’t be tolerated.

Furthermore, our ward education officers should be more involved in family education. Our youth—boys and girls—should be enlightened on the perils of pre-marital sex. They need monitoring, counselling, and advising.

Let us avoid bringing in moral issues as most of us, especially those adult females for few, if any, are not that clean themselves.

After all, those teens may have no idea about morality except that premature and out of marriage sex is bad, but sex is a pleasurable thing.

We all need to know that it is only education that will give hope of good future life to the teen mothers.

Let them get education to the best of their abilities and the State should look for better way ways to help and support them.

The government should avoid dictatorial tendencies on these moral matters and let Parliament discuss and give instructions to the relevant ministry to design best ways to handle it rather than taking orders from the Executive.

The author is a professor of education psychology issaomari88@yahoo.com