Daily Archives: July 6, 2015

Loud Whispers of Misery

By Praxides Mavale, (@Praxides_mavale)

She cuts the figure of a run-down woman almost crumbling at the sheer weight of the world on her tiny shoulders.

Atieno* is just sixteen years old, yet in her tiny world, she has been to hell and back.

When we meet Atieno at her grandmother’s house in Bonde village, she tells us about her unhealed scars.

Yet Atieno doesn’t exhibit the normal signs of injuries. For she has a bigger sickness-in her mind!

Psychosocial trauma is a major problem bedeviling many a young person today.

When Atieno opens up to tell the devastating post exposure experiences after procuring an unsafe abortions, she evokes a deep empathy of what she had to go through and how life would have played out differently.

Sometimes a person may get away with the physical risks of procuring an unsafe abortion, but the psychological scars live forever.

When she got the news that she was pregnant, she thought it was just a funny joke that the body was plying on her.

Yes, she had engaged in unprotected sex with a local village boy but surely she couldn’t have been pregnant. Not at sixteen!

What would people say? What would happen to her now?

She had to get rid of her public source of ridicule!!

But because of poverty and a restrictive legal environment on unsafe abortions in Kenya, Atieno was referred to a quack operating in a dingy corner of Kisumu City’s sprawling slums.

She was scared, hoping for the best while expecting the worst.

It’s the worst that would happen.

She had never seen so much blood ooze out of a person. The pain was excruciating, searing and unignorable.

Perhaps, her date with the maker was closer than she had imagined.

She ended up going to the back street attendant who managed to stop the bleeding, but permanently tempered with her cervix and womb.

Her pains were later to be compounded with the disappearance of her sugar bear.

But Atieno isn’t alone in all this. Statistics paint a grim picture of the Kenyan youth. Unsafe abortions are so common, yet nobody talks about them.

There is need to address women’s rights issues and the rights of other marginalized population’s including young people.

Many young women die due to unsafe abortions.

The higher costs of treating complications from unsafe abortions pushes women further into greater poverty.

Complications resulting from pregnancy are the leading causes of deaths for young women of ages 15-19 because they lack proper information and access to youth friendly services.

If only young people could have access to information and youth friendly services…..

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There’s something our parliament can do to make young people more than just statistics- they can pass the Reproductive Health Care Bill 2014 and fast track access to information and services by young people.

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The Forgotten Population

Category : Naya Blog

(Young girls carry water on the train tracks that run through the Kibera Slum. Photo by Colin Crowly. Image Courtesy, Trip.me)

By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)

Currently urban poverty is gradually surpassing rural poverty. According to data from the Word Bank, by 2030 poverty will become more predominant in urban areas. It is estimated that in Kenya about 43% of the urban population is poor and majority of them live in slums.

It is here in the slums that most of the people suffer and experience reproductive health problems. No one is actually there to help them since most of the development programs in Kenya are mainly focused in rural areas.

The slum population usually experience high rate of diseases including sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. There is a high HIV prevalence in the ghetto among women and this is caused by gender inequality.

It is in these same slums that there is a high mortality rate. According to a study done in Nairobi slums it was concluded that HIV and TB are the root cause of about 50% of the mortality burden.

Also, it is in these slums where high child mortality is experienced. This is usually caused by child malnutrition and diseases. For most slum dwellers taking children for clinic visits is a luxury they can’t afford.

Sexual violence, especially rape against women, is another common occurrence in this forgotten population. A good example is in Nairobi ghettos where a quarter of the teenage girl’s population are raped each year. This is a serious issue and it has to stop because it leads to other problems such as early and unwanted pregnancy which may lead to unsafe abortion and even death.

Maternal mortality is also common in slum areas due to early pregnancies among teenagers, unsafe abortions and poor health care services. Most of the women usually deliver and home because most health care services does not exist in the slums. This is a big problem because it risks the mother’s health and the child too.

Domestic violence is also common among women in the slums. Sometimes these violence may lead to death and some health complications.

In as much as these areas may pass as urban areas that are doing well, the reality is that policy makers must factor in this crucial population in their programming and policy making.

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