TRANSACTIONAL SEX AND TEENAGE PREGNANCIES: FROM STATISTICS TO ACTION
Jun 25, 2020
Sex for fish is a famous trade along the beaches of Lake Victoria commonly known as jaboya or joboya (plural). Once the boats dock at the beach from their fish catches, beehive of activities towers Kiwa Island. Atis a grade five pupil is among the fishmonger who accompanies her grandmother Nyowila to the beach, forcing her to miss school frequently. She comes in to support her grandmother Nyowila fend for her and their three siblings. Her mother died four years ago when she was 8 years. Since then her grandmother Nyowila had been taking care of them through her business as a fishmonger. Now that Nyowila is aging at 49 years; joboya no longer see her as attractive thus she resorted to be accompanied by her eldest granddaughter; Atis to entice joboya. Atis confessed to have been engaging in unprotected sex with joboya. Five months into that dubious trade, Atis got pregnant; at 13 years. This, is what most girls face in Homa Bay County.
The county came second in Kenya in a demographic survey on teenage pregnancies at 33% for girls aged 15-19 years old. According to the latest Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS, 2018), Narok County had the highest burden of teenage pregnancies at 40%, followed by Homa Bay County. Teenage pregnancies have become a serious issue in Kenya that has propelled the then Cabinet Secretary Amina to commission an inquiry to investigate the causes and interventions. In Homa Bay county Jaboya is one of the factors that are responsible for teenage pregnancies. Homa Bay county has close to 80% of the Lake Victoria side (CIDP,2014), other factors include high poverty levels, it is noted that many engage in transaction sex to meet basic needs, music and dance after burial of the dead (disco matanga), others blame absentee parents and many orphans and single parents due to HIV/AIDS among other factors.
Despite all these challenges, forces of change and a better society for the girls and women are optimistic that all these could be addressed and give the girls opportunity complete school and build their lives. It is important to tap and make use of Kenya’s favourable policy and legal frameworks that promote adolescent SRH and SRH rights. These frameworks include but are not limited to the Constitution (2010), National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy (2015), National Guidelines for Provision of Adolescent Youth Friendly Services (YFS) in Kenya (2005), the Children Act (2001) and the National Youth Policy (2007).
At SOY-Worldwide we have been doing several sensitization programs on sexual reproductive health rights. We believe this is a step to addressing the teenage pregnancies. It should also be noted that this should be given a concerted effort from church to the community to the schools to the leaders and from the government