Speaker Anita Among has asked parents and cultural leaders to put an end to teenage pregnancies and child marriages saying the vice is encouraged by the unfortunate practice of viewing girls as a commodity.

Launching the Parliamentary Forum to end Child Marriages and Teenage Pregnancies where she was named its patron, Speaker Among sounded a call to action to parents and cultural leaders, who she said carry the magic wand to end the scourge of teenage pregnancies and early marriages.

Using her own example as someone who almost fall prey to the practice , Among said the girls, too, should put up a fight and not easily give in to early marriages.
“The issue of eliminating teenage pregnancies is a reality. I happened to be a victim of this particular practice; the challenge is that the moment a parent sees a girl developing breasts, they say she is ready for marriage,” she said adding that, ’I was going to Primary Seven when I almost got forced into a marriage; I took off from home, went and became a house girl, stayed in some other people’s homes and managed to pay for my own education’.

She blamed poor parenting for the increase in the vice and offered her support to the forum in creating awareness to end the practice and put the girls to school.
“One of the causes of early marriages and child pregnancy is an issue of parenting, but it also comes back to you, what do you want in life? You can be taken through all that but the resilience to move on is very important,” she added.

The Speaker thanked the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and development partners for supporting efforts to eradicate the practice saying it is time to take the fight to parents and cultural leaders, who should end practices that encourage the vice.

Hon. Ronald Olema Afidra (NRM, Lower Madi County) who is the Chairperson of the forum said society should not give up on the victims but still extend to them an opportunity to go back to school.
“Let us give them [the girls] the opportunity to go back to school where they can; we need the girls growing up to be girls, not to prematurely become mothers,” he said.

Ms Laura Criado Lafuente who represented the UFPA Country Representative pledged support to the new forum saying their intervention will be evidence-based, using demographic statistics to mount a laser-focused challenge against teenage pregnancies and marriages.