The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) has confronted county leaders regarding the alarming rates of teenage pregnancies.

The Commission issued red cards to 20 governors due to the high incidence of teenage pregnancies. Led by Executive Director Davis Malombe and Deputy Executive Cornelius Odour, along with Program Manager Annet Nerima, Program Advisor Furaha Charo, and Robert Waweru, the KHRC team referenced a report by the National Syndemic Disease Control Council indicating that 696 girls were impregnated daily in 2023.

Malombe emphasized the urgent need to address the crisis of teenage pregnancies in Kenya, describing it as a significant human rights violation, especially as International Women’s Day approaches.

Speaking to the press, Malombe criticized county leaders for their inadequate efforts to address unintended teenage pregnancies affecting girls aged 15 to 19. Ten governors were accused of neglecting to combat teenage pregnancies, while another 10 were noted for their high per capita contribution to these incidents.

The leading counties in terms of absolute numbers were Nairobi (452), Kakamega (328), Bungoma (294), Kilifi (224), Meru (206), Kisii (192), Machakos (178), and Narok (176). In terms of per capita contribution, the highest rates were recorded in Samburu (50.1), West Pokot (36.3), Marsabit (29.4), Migori (23), Kajiado (21.8), Baringo (20.3), Siaya (20.9), Taveta (18), Trans Nzoia (17.9), and Isiolo (16.7) percent, respectively.

Nerima criticized the governors for not only failing to reduce teenage pregnancies but also violating various human rights, including the right to education, life, dignity, health, equality, and freedom from discrimination and insecurity.

Additionally, the Commission highlighted poverty, sexual gender-based violence, harmful cultural practices, and school closures in 2020 as contributing factors to teenage pregnancies, based on data from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2022.

Charo urged the health and education ministries and the Council of Governors to collaborate in addressing the crisis. Specifically, she called on the Ministry of Education to ensure that every teenage girl is allowed back to school and provided with psychosocial support. Moreover, she urged the Ministry of Health to reaffirm its commitment to comprehensive sexual education as per the Eastern and Southern Africa Commitment.

The Council of Governors was urged to investigate the crisis and formulate policies for preventing and managing teenage pregnancies. Parents were also reminded to prioritize the well-being and welfare of their children in accordance with the Children’s Act.