Kenya (MNN) – The current coronavirus pandemic has stretched its arms worldwide, and young girls in Kenya are greatly feeling its affects. With the school closures, many girls have become desperate for ways to get access to necessary items.
“There are things that a girl child cannot go without,” Tumaini, a board member with FMI in Kenya, says. “Number one is what we call sanitary towels. Those girls who cannot get them will try and get them at all cost. Men will take advantage of them.”
For many girls, school was a safety net from forced marriages, female circumcision, and rape. While female genital mutilation (FGM) is illegal in Kenya, many families have used the lockdown as an opportunity to continue the practice in rural areas. Schools were also a place where girls received sanitary napkins and food.
“During school times, the government will provide them, but since schools have been closed down, there is no way for the government to provide those important things to them,” Tumaini says.
The pandemic has also caused many rescue centers for girls running from forced marriages or FGM to turn girls away or shutter their doors. In desperation, many girls are being coerced into sex in exchange for food and other necessary items.
“Most of our girls began to be pregnant,” Tumaini says.
He is hoping that FMI will be able to come up with some way to protect these girls while schools are unable to.
“As a minister, as a man of God, I’m really praying for them,” he says.