Tuesday August 18th DN2 cover story, No baby in my house, by Abuta Mageto about mothers secretly duping their teenage daughters to get contraceptives, reminds me of the secret struggle that parents have. Sexuality has always been a taboo subject in the African setting. Which is why getting most mothers to start the sexuality conversation with their teenage daughters is still a big challenge.
A while back I hosted my 14 year old niece who had just finished primary school. That girl gave me such headache because she was all over being friendly with several men, most of whose intentions were clearly not well meaning. She is a natural beauty, so she was enjoying the glory of catching the attention of men. I feared her getting in trouble- you know pregnant trouble or STIs while she was under my care.
I heard hushed rumors that her grandmother had her injected with contraceptives because she could not handle her. She tried bringing her to me so that as her aunt, I could manage her. After one month, her teenage hormones were too much for me to handle. I say this with remorse because I had to send her back to her grandmother. The remorse is due to the fact that I give a lot of young people counsel on sexuality.
Her mother, my cousin died after long struggle with illness, leaving her and her younger brother as orphans, under the care of grandparents. I was afraid that she might end up with the same story her mother had. These things used to be spoken of in hushed tones, especially if one had been admitted severally in ward 8 of Kenyatta National Hospital, somewhere my late cousin was accustomed to.
Her grandmother the best she could at least to prevent the burden of raising great grand children by secretly putting her on contraceptives. Because she is a Christian, she could not procure abortions for her granddaughter, but many parents do, as Mageto quotes in his article,
Many see children born out of wedlock not only a social burden, but also an unnecessary financial burden in the face of rising inflation, and so, despite the legal restrictions and the medical risks associated with abortion, it is still prevalent in the country.
I tried talking to her about the risks of being sexually active at such a young age. Eventually, I had to send her back to the village, mostly because I was still a student and I could not sustain living with her. This was the time that I also released Earnest and his mother.
As we speak, she has two children with different fathers. I recently spoke on phone with her and asked her if she had plans of getting married to any of her babies’ daddies. She just giggled and said no.
Would anyone blame my aunt for getting contraceptives for this girl? After raising her children, she had been left with her grandchildren to raise and to add salt to a festering wound, she now has great grand children to raise. There is the aspect of preserving the ‘Christian’ image of the family, but also averting the economic burden on already retired grannies. A sad twist to the plot is my aunt was recently widowed. Her husband, my uncle, is yet to be buried this weekend. What next for her?