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Woman Rep dismisses poverty as cause of teen pregnancies

Kwale Woman Representative Zulekha Juma has differed with local residents over claims that poverty is largely to blame for the rising cases of teenage pregnancies in the region.
Ms. Juma dismissed the argument as frivolous and attributed the problem to negligence of responsibility by parents in the region which she said is leading in the number of teenage pregnancies in the country.
She accused parents of pampering their children instead of enforcing discipline and offering them proper parental care and guidance.
“There are many girls from poor families and one wonders how come they all do not get pregnant like it is happening here. This is simply a question of lack of proper upbringing and not poverty,” she said.
Using herself as an example, the MP said she hailed from a poor background which forced her to drop out of school for two years due to lack of fees, but added she never fooled around because her parents were strict disciplinarians.
She said there are other regions poorer than Kwale yet they have not recorded more unwanted pregnancies and early marriages.
“The residents’ claims simply lack merit because if poverty is really to blame then the more disadvantaged areas would be top in the list of counties reeling under the burden of teen pregnancies like Kwale,” she said.
Ms. Juma was speaking at Kombani where she distributed Sh2.5 million from National Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) in Matuga Sub-county, to various groups comprising women, youth and people living with disabilities.
Residents who spoke at the meeting claimed most local girls fall victim to sex-preying men for money since they cannot afford their basic necessities.
A number of pregnancy cases were reported in the county among candidates who sat for their national primary and secondary school examinations in 2018.
“This is an alarming trend and the buck stops at the parents’ door because instilling discipline in children begins at home,” said Ms. Juma who however announced the launch of a mentorship programme for local girls aged 18 to 35 years beginning 2019 with funds from NGAAF.
The legislator said a total of Sh10.4 million from the kitty was disbursed to 76 groups across the entire county in 2018 to promote development in rural areas through various income-generating projects.
She dispelled accusations that money being disbursed was too little and of no impact to group members saying budgetary constraints forced her to share it out sparingly to reach as many people as possible.
“Money allocated to women reps is far less compared to that of other MPs and that is why we are spreading it thinly especially for groups engaged in table banking,” she said noting that amounts for those undertaking development projects are comparatively much higher.
A table banking group of 20 members gets Sh.40, 000 which beneficiaries said qualifies them for only Sh.2, 000 loan each saying it was too little to enable them attain the fund’s intended goal of empowering locals economically.
At the same time, Ms. Juma decried the poor industrialization in the county saying it is to blame for the high rate of youth unemployment and added that something needs to be done to attract investment.
“It is sad to note the high unemployment yet our county is ranked as the fifth richest in the country but with very low investment in the industrial sector which has potential for creating jobs,” she said.
By James Muchai

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