Who is to blame for high numbers of single mothers in Kenya?

Single Mother
A single mother carrying her baby in the rural Kenya. Photo: mummytales.com

If you are born and raised in Kenya, then the likelihood of finding your neighbor being single mothers is 30-60%. Out of every 10 families 4 are single parent homes. The statistics has it that the majority of the single mothers are as a result of teenage girls being pregnant while still in school, other girls having children while not married. We also have women being widowed at a very young age being a contributing factor.

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Consequences of single mothers’ family

The consequences of single parenthood ranges from high poverty levels, street families, drug abuse and prostitution. According to a study done by Stella Muthuri in 2016 the trend of single parenthood exposed women to untold suffering.

The girl child in Kenya has been neglected and left to fight for her space in a male dominated society. Once a girl is pregnant even her parent throws her out of the house. There was a story told about a 13-year-old Nekesa (not her real name) that was repeatedly abused and impregnated by her stepfather and the mother wanted not anything to do with her. Thank God there was a Good Samaritan who runs a rescue center for teenage mothers who took her in. Girls like Nekesa are so many in Kenya and the society takes it as a norm.

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Who is to blame for this absurd situation in the country?

From my observation the culture is to blame. A culture that cannot protect their women from abuse, with time given rise to an unprotected women from sexual abuses. Some Cultures which dictate that a woman must get married at a certain age to bring dowry for the family. This dowry aspect makes some fathers “sell out” their girls to richer men so that they can enrich themselves.

There is also a culture that disowns girls who refuse to get married or refuse to stay in polygamous marriages or abusive marriages. The culture also that assigns a woman sole responsibility of a child regardless of her financial status.

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Kenyan social support law to single mother

In many countries there is child support policy and law that ensures that women are not exploited. For decades Kenyan men have enjoyed monopoly of use and dispose at will without a brink, whereby men can have as many women as they want, father as many children as they want without any respect of the law. In 2010 the constitution directs that men or women must pay child support. But that law only works if a man has a salary if not it can’t be implemented. With very high rates of unemployment men are still enjoying themselves while women and children are suffering.

If a woman follows up on this law most of them end up dead. It is a good law that has not been availed to the people who need it. For justice to prevail in Kenya there is need for lawyers who come with a price. So, the law is there but not available. Men take advantage of these hindrances to exploit and neglect their own children.

Another factor that is to blame is mental health. This is a topic for another day.