There was news trending in Kenya last week that a certain county had recorded over 4,000 underage pregnancies ever since the outbreak of the virus.
True to nature, some creative Kenyan created a meme to mean that if underage pregnancies were higher than Covid-19 cases, then the country had its priorities wrong; Corona was less of a threat.
It might seem humorous but there is nothing funny about it. Rwanda has not been spared of the scourge either, and available statistics show that in 2016, around 18,000 underage pregnancies were recorded.
Most of the pregnancies is the work of older sexual predators who take advantage of the young gullible girls’ vulnerability. Many of the offenders get away with it with the connivance of the victims’ relatives, either because they want to avoid stigma or are bribed to say nothing. The predator survives to strike another day.
While the Ministry of Justice has come up with plans to open a Sex Offenders’ Registry – and it is a welcome move – it will only have a record of convicted offenders. Those who manage to slip through the prosecution’s net are the ones to be worried about, especially when parents and relatives adopt the law of silence.
That is where the real issues lie. There is a need to break a wall of silence otherwise the Sexual Offenders Registry will be more or less a name-and-shame list. Owners of lodgings and boarding houses should come under scrutiny because when the predator is a married man, as it happens in many cases, that where they shift their operational base.
Nonetheless, the Sexual Offenders Registry is a first step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go.