The Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA) has called for the scrapping of taxes on sanitary towels to make them affordable to girls from vulnerable families.
The organization also urged the government to start distributing free sanitary towels to communities with a view to helping girls who have been kept out of school due to coronavirus pandemic.
FIDA Executive Director Anne Ireri said in Magarini constituency Monday that many girls had fallen prey to sex pests who have been taking advantage of their poor family backgrounds.
She said availing the towels free of charge or at low cost would help fight teenage pregnancies and gender-based violence (GBV) targeting girls, which had reportedly escalated during this Covid-19 pandemic period.
“Teenage pregnancies and gender-based violence have especially escalated during the Covid-19 period because many girls cannot afford these essential dignity items,” Ms. Ireri said during an ongoing free sanitary towel distribution exercise in the constituency.
She added: ”Many girls are being lured into premature sexual activities by men who promise to buy them sanitary towels in exchange for sexual favours and this can only be countered by the distribution of the kits free of charge.”
Statistics show that more than 4,000 cases of teenage pregnancies involving girls aged 10 to 19 years were recorded between January and May this year in the Coastal region, with Kilifi County leading with 3,376 cases followed by Mombasa with 941 cases.
Ms. Ireri counselled young girls to be focused and avoid falling prey to pedophiles by maintaining their integrity despite the harsh economic conditions in their homes.
“I advise teenage girls to take charge of their lives by refusing to yield to temptations that can destroy them,” she said adding, “Pregnancies normally affect the teenage girls’ physical and mental state and many feel unworthy.”
Fida Coast regional coordinator Ilham Isham said her organization was providing free legal services to teenage girls to help them get justice.
Margaret Luganje a resident of Msumarini village in Magarini, blamed parents for abdicating their parental duties that she said had exposed the girls to online bullies for those who can access the internet and wayward adults.
By Emmanuel Masha