The Covid Generation
By Priscilla Kona
It is a year full of drama, the recession year 2020. The family arena is filled with surprises; emotional moments, and hold your breath, the eruption on the world scene of child parents !
Was it lack of sex education, reduced access to women health services, or school closures that has wrought teenage pregnancy upon us? A record 151,433 statistic in Kenya, between January and May in the year 2020.
It is days to the end year examinations, and exam briefings are in earnest. Arguably, many , many desks will be empty of candidates. And amidst tight security to curb fraud, their appointed occupants will be sitting for their exams in labor wards, against the disturbing din from clueless newborns. The season of teenage pregnancy is upon us.
While their parents give their all to nurture and educate them, many are the girls who start strong, later to be bogged down by challenges. The Covid- 19 pandemic of December2019 has presented an unprecedented risk to the well -being of the all- important girl child, who is born into a plethora of challenges.
Reproductive health challenges include the age old menses, the family planning dilemma and pregnancy .Traditional gender norms have limited women’s access to resources like land, education and employment.
Gender equity has benefits for individual , family and country, improving physical and mental health, economic development and community stability. Gender based violence, driven by harmful gender norms commonplace to African communities are a risk to the girl child, the primary family caregiver. Teenage pregnancy further reduces potential for positive social engagement and economic productivity. The domino effect makes for interesting reflection…
‘‘My son is playing with fire!’’ Her anxiety is telling, and the reason not is not hard to find; the intrusive, unplanned for arrival in the family of her son’s pregnant classmate. The mother has risked life and limb to educate him. But will he be able to go back to school when schools open? Who will support his young one ? What a generational catastrophe!
While many women can hardly wait to hold their new born babies , how many young girls are ready for the pregnancy jungle? The 9 electric months? The labor room imbroglio? How many? The statistics soar, and the hapless girls and boys have each their macabre reasons for present days’ disturbing , unsavory pastime;
‘’We are bored by the monotony’’ cries one.
‘‘We have nothing to eat at home’’ claims another
‘‘My parents are deceased’’.
‘‘My parents are fighting daily’’.
‘’My (clueless) boyfriend said he loves me”.
‘’Schools won’t open”.
The Covid 19 generation, rumbling into a future as clear as mud. A generational catastrophe.
Where do we go from here , humanity?
Conveniently forgotten by their ‘spouses’, some choose to terminate their pregnancy later to contend with lifelong emotional and physiological challenges, including the cumbersome infertility.
Teenage pregnancy presents a case for increased nutritional needs. Indeed food security in pregnancy has been found to be critical to physically and mentally . Yet how many teenage mothers crowd the list of the world’s food insecure?
Should a woman conceive before she reaches reproductive age? Physicians concur that ‘child bearing hips’ are a critical factor in reducing the incidence of caesarean sections, and prolonged labor, commonplace to teenage labor deliveries.
The mandatory HIV test is done to pregnant mothers in the best interests of the unborn.Abstain! Be faithful! Use a condom! medics urge caution at every turn.
Fourteen year old Lora is also in attendance at the ante natal clinic. Janus face, or hapless victim of a society now knee deep in a moral pit? She has turned HIV positive. Danger lurks for the girls at home ; their teachers can no longer discern the telltale signs of abuse. Or was it the trenches, where now many a poverty riddled girl is fighting it out, also to put food to table? And all these in the dusk to dawn curfew?The prospect of HIV mortality is terrifying but who cares, today?
Raise up your hand young lady if you are not yet in the teenage pregnancy nest! Our collective feminine potential is untold!
If we followed you daily, where you go, what you do, what would we find? Is teenage sex the only nadir of life?Wait for adulthood, won’t you? Up your every stake by Abstinence. Its not the end of the world!
We only live once.