Civil society organisations and religious leaders have appealed to Government to investigate the alarming rate of teenage pregnancies and bring the perpetrators to book. The call comes after reports indicated that at least 17,000 cases of teenage pregnancy were recorded last year.
The magnitude of the problem is alarming, and some of the victims are below 18 years. 818 teenage girls got pregnant before they reached 18 years within a period of just two years – that is how dire the situation is.
The call to prosecute men responsible for teenage pregnancies is timely and should be implemented with the urgency it deserves.
However, the prosecution of the men responsible is not a magic bullet to solving this issue.
In order to decisively deal with the problem, it requires addressing the root cause using a holistic approach.
The responsible stakeholders must look beyond the men responsible, if this vice is to be stamped out.
Most of the victims of teenage pregnancy are usually girls in school or those from vulnerable families. Many are lured with small gifts in exchange for sex because they can’t get them from their parents or guardians.
This brings into perspective the aspect of parenting values and norms. Parents and guardians are not doing enough. They should do more in sensitising children about the dangers of risky behaviour that could expose them to unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
The same applies to schools. What are schools doing to sensitise teens about sexual reproductive health and how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and associated dangers?
Also, local leaders should not protect the culprits through mediations with the families of the victims.
It has since emerged that some local leaders keep these cases a secret. Instead of reporting these cases to the Police, families with help of local leaders prefer to have mediation. This should stop.