By Mary Mkamburi
Gender-based violence and teenage pregnancies are two critical issues that continue to plague communities worldwide. GBV refers to any form of violence or abuse that is inflicted on someone based on their gender, and it can take many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional and economic abuse. Teenage pregnancy, on the other hand, refers to pregnancy in girls under the age of 20.
In Bungoma county, many young girls and women experience GBV in silence. They often suffer in isolation due to the shame and stigma associated with these issues, making it difficult for them to seek help or support. GBV is often perpetuated by close family members or intimate partners or members of the community at large, which makes it even harder for victims to speak out. Many girls who become pregnant at a young age also face discrimination from their families, peers and communities.
The impact of GBV and teenage pregnancy on young girls in Bungoma county is devastating. It affects their physical and mental health, education and future opportunities. Girls who experience GBV are more likely to drop out of school and face a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, and maternal mortality. Teenage pregnancy can also lead to early marriages, which can perpetuate the cycle of poverty and lack of education for young girls.
To address these issues, it is essential to break the silence surrounding GBV and teenage pregnancy in the county. This involves raising awareness of the problem, promoting open discussions about these issues and providing safe spaces for victims to seek help and support. It also requires addressing the root causes of these issues, such as poverty, lack of education and gender inequality.
Efforts to address GBV and teenage pregnancy must involve all members of the community including young, teachers, parents, healthcare providers and local leaders. By working together, we can create a safer and more supportive environment for young girls and women in Bungoma county, ensuring that they have access to the resources and opportunities they need to thrive.
IAWRT Kenya held a training on “Advocacy journalism” for female journalists from the western Kenya region-Bungoma on February 24 to align women in the media to the technological advances and enhance their capacities to use the online spaces safely. Mary Mkamburi is a mentee of IAWRT Kenya.