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AFP
August 4, 2020

In Kenya, alarm over rise in teen pregnancies during pandemic

World

AFP
August 4, 2020

NAIROBI: Sixteen-year-old Linnet covers her face bashfully, mumbling into her hands as she recounts how she met the young man who bought her fries and gave her money, before leaving her pregnant and facing even greater poverty than before. She is one of thousands of teenagers who fall pregnant every year in Kenya, a problem experts fear is worsening during the coronavirus pandemic, with some girls pushed into transactional sex to survive while others have more sex as they stay home from school. Shortly before the pandemic hit Kenya in March, Linnet´s farmer parents in western Busia sent her to Nairobi to find a job as they could no longer afford her school fees. She moved in with her sister, her sister´s husband — the sole breadwinner — and their two small children in a tiny corrugated-iron room in the Kibera slum. Food was scarce and the advances of the 22-year-old boda-boda (motorbike taxi) rider, and the luxuries he offered, were hard to resist. “He would buy me some fries, shoes and also give me some money,” said Linnet, her dress of brightly-coloured flowers stretched tight against her four-month pregnant belly. She said she had asked him to wear a condom, but he had removed it during intercourse. He has demanded she terminate the pregnancy, and the romance has dissipated. “I am too young to be pregnant and now I am going to be a mother to a kid,” she said. “A child needs porridge, milk, money. I feel bad.”