Of late, word on the street has been the impregnation of many school girls across the country. Of course, all that has been confirmed is ‘many’ girls; especially those in rural setting becoming pregnant. The attribution has gone to the Covid-19 pandemic that has birthed movement restrictions and closure of schools among the rules meant to curb the pandemic.
Statistics pertaining to the number of pupils impregnated are still scanty with some districts recording 2 000, others up to 7 000. I am reluctant to mention the names of the districts now until we get official figures from relevant ministries and stakeholders. Nonetheless, these pregnancies are believed to have happened between March 2020 to date on alleged grounds that many children, girls in particular, are idle, hence, utilising the free time to fall pregnant.
Sad indeed, when we consider the ages of the girls most of whom are said to be between 10 and 18 years old. I shudder to imagine how I would react if my 10-year-old were to fall pregnant.
However, we have a problem, both as a country or the different societies across it. Why is everybody rushing to blame the trends on idleness from the Covid-19 ‘lockdown?’ If we look at the lives of the rural masses for example, do they really have anything in particular they do in their free times pre- Covid 19 apart from the same idleness being referred to now? Have pregnancy trends among teens and indeed early marriages not been an issue way before the coronavirus decided to pay us a visit and eventually stayed? How has the urban girl evaded the pregnancy scourge even as she is equally affected by the global pandemic? Should we equally anticipate a further baby boom should the Covid-19 escalate?
Initially, early pregnancy and marriages were blamed on poverty. The so-called experts have convinced us that girls go into marriages to be looked after by their husbands or are actually ‘sold off’ to suitors by their guardians to ease the burden of fending for them. All of a sudden, another excuse has spouted to defend sex and it consequences therein by youngsters without really stalking the real problem.
I read a pictorial in The Nation on Monday, August 17 on page 6. Titled; ‘Keeping busy during Covid-19. It portrayed various activities such as cycling, playing draughts, cooking, football, moulding bricks, fishing etc mainly by boys of varying ages. If these boys can find something to do, why should it only be the girl opting to have sex and not anything else? What happens after her activity, does the idleness go way because she has slept with a man? Should we say she has sex for the bigger part of her day?
For me, it all boils down to weak parenting and guidance. If parents cared about their child at particular times and periods, it would make a difference in curbing these pregnancy trends, just like many in urban areas do as a means of protection.
Some are arguing that the uncertainty of schools reopening is pushing girls into relationships in the hopes of getting married. They claim that too much time on the girls’ hands as schools and household chores keep them busy and the lack of strictness as imposed by many school as well as sex education are all contributing to unwanted pregnancies. Let’s not always look for excuses. Let us deal with matters as they are without wasting time pointing fingers. This problem has been in our midst before, still is and will be if we continue blaming circumstances.