A 13-year-old girl from Maragua, Murang’a county, says her pregnancy came as a shock but she cares about the man who defiled her.
The man who is her 24-year-old cousin and a boda boda rider separated from his wife.
Despite her predicament, a C-section and a healthy baby, the girl says her cousin should not be prosecuted. She still cherishes the man who exploited her and put her life on the line.
Cuddling her baby girl, she gave every indication she was in love with the man when she was interviewed by the Star.
"I've been sleeping with him every Sunday and sometimes stayed over at his house," she said matter of factly.
Police are looking for him.
Hers is one of many and increasing cases of teen pregnancy in the county, at least 2,000 known cases this year.
The girl was in Standard 6 last year and among the top performers in her class. Her first cousin had lured her into a sexual relationship but the last she expected was pregnancy.
The relationship started when she was only 10, but the cousin, now 24, was 21. He was separated from his wife.
Despite hearing about the many cases of teen mothers, especially during the Covid-19 period, she could not break off the relationship.
After pregnancy was confirmed and she told her parents, they called a family meeting.
The family decided to settle the matter out of court. A grandmother pledged to help bring up her great-grandchild. The baby's father was warned to stay away.
The family decided to transfer the girl from Maragua to Kangema to protect her from stigma and enable her to continue with her education, away from her cousin. She was six months pregnant at the time.
When the Star visited her at her grandmother’s home in Kangema, she emerged from one of the many houses in the homestead, clutching her baby girl.
She gave birth in May at Murang’a General Hospital. Medical officers said her reproductive system was too immature for natural delivery so she underwent a C-section.
The medical team said they would be making follow-ups to ensure the health of the teen and her baby is not compromised.
Despite her pleas that her cousin not be charged, the medical officers insisted her cousin broke the law and should pay for what he had done.
The baby has been named after the teenager’s mother. The family says this is meant to cut ties with the father, given their concerns about the incest taboo in that community.
The grandmother, despite being conflicted about the situation, wanted punitive action taken against her grandson, as he had taken advantage of the girl and disrupted her life.
The girl said they had sex every week and sometimes she would spend the night at the cousin's home in Maragua.
She also wants to resume her education as soon as possible.
County health executive Joseph Mbai warned against rising teen pregnancies and wants the "war" on the menace intensified. He, however, pledged to sponsor the girl through her secondary education.
Despite the 2,000 pregnancies in Murang'a this year, the number is a significant improvement. Two years ago, more than 6,000 teenage girls gave birth.
In 2019, Mbai formed the Okoa Teenagers Initiative to heighten the fight and ensure culprits are punished. Since then, 34 men have been convicted and jailed. Another five court cases are underway.
Ithanga in Gatanga is one of the worst-hit areas. A few weeks ago, a local chief came across a baby dumped near a riverbank. The baby was still alive and attached to its umbilical cord. It was taken to Maragua Hospital newborn’s unit.
Area assistant county commissioner Chrispine Otieno has urged parents with young girls, including pregnant teens, to counsel them to avert such incidents.
In the same area, Mbai said he is following up on a case in which a Form 2 girl was made pregnant by a civil servant. The man sent the girl to his home, only to go after her and defile her.
On realising she was pregnant, the girl reported to her teachers and parents. Her parents, however, betrayed her—they were bribed by the civil servant into silence.
More than a year later, she has yet to resume her education. She has been crying out for help, saying her parents are already compromised, hence, outside agencies should take up the case and ensure justice.
In a little-known village in Machakos, a man was jailed last year for seven years after confessing that he took a Sh50,000 bribe from a man who impregnated his daughter.
In Murang’a town, an HIV-positive man was handed life imprisonment by a Murang’a court for defiling his seven-year-old daughter.
In Gathuke-ini, Murang’a East, two fathers were accused of defiling two girls aged seven and eight. The cases are ongoing at the Murang’a law courts.
One of the girls lived alone with her father after her mother died. She had a difficult time testifying as the father had threatened to kill her if she talked about her ordeal.
Mbai said the cases are so rampant that he is considering opening up a public rescue centre.
He warned administrators against colluding with sexual offenders, saying their days are numbered. He said such cases must never be settled out of court.
Alice Waithera: The-Star