Sixteen year old Truphena discovers she is pregnant two months after schools re-open from the April holidays. For the second time she has missed to see red.
The form two student lives with her aunt and uncle in Luanda, a small town in Western Kenya. Her boyfriend with whom she has gone intimate in a few occasions is a form one student at a boy’s boarding school in Siaya County.
Truphena a total orphan is disinclined to keeping the pregnancy because she does not want to disappoint her family. She fears that her uncle who has struggled to support her and her two siblings throughout her childhood may stop paying school fees or might even send her away from home.
She can’t imagine living through the ridicule she anticipates from her peers and the unkind words from teachers in school. She confides in a friend from her class who offers to help her out.
Truphena is referred to an old lady- a herbalist, a short distance out of town. She is given about a litre of what she describes as hot mixture of herbs to take. “You will experience some bleeding for one to two days then you will become a girl again,” the old lady tells her.
Three days later Truphena is still bleeding and begins to experience backaches and abdominal pains. She gets terrified recalling a few stories she had heard from the village of girls dying from such encounters. Her friend offers no help and she is left with no option but to talk to her aunt.
I had the opportunity to meet Truphena a week later when she came to a health centre in Kisumu where I work as a communication and marketing officer. She came to thank the nurse who attended to her for saving her life and for a counselling session on contraceptive options for the youth.
According to Celestine Gambo, the Nurse in charge of the KMET Youth friendly Clinic, had Truphena’s family delayed, she would have developed septicaemia; a condition that results from the body cells being infected as a result of decomposing products of conception in the womb. She would have lost her womb or worse her life.
Truphena is not an isolated case, she forms part of the over 300,000 unsafe abortion that Kenya records in a year yet the emotive abortion debate goes on and on with little or no tangible interventions being adopted by the ministry of health.
The kind of discourse we engage in with regards to abortion deals with the rights and wrongs within moral corridors and the confines of the laws of the land. Questions like: is abortion morally wrong? What does the Kenyan law rule on abortion? How does a health provider determine a woman’s life is in danger because of the pregnancy, and how do we decide whose rights should prevail? Shall never be concluded.
However the government and partners in the private sector can make sure that every Kenyan woman does not find herself in a predicament that elicits such questions by jointly implementing the national guideline for provision of adolescent, youth-friendly services drafted in 2005, to bolster sexual reproductive information which has been kept under the rags for long.