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Kenya: Fury as Marie Stopes dupes schoolgirls into being implanted with hormonal birth control

16 October 2017


Marie Stopes often cause controversy in Kenya, where abortion is mostly illegal.

There's been calls for their arrest 

Parents in Kitui county, Kenya, have reacted furiously to the news that representatives of Marie Stopes International visited a school and administered birth control to underage girls without parental consent.

Long-acting contraception to teenagers

Nairobi News reports that "pro-abortion activists" visited Archbishop Boniface Lele Secondary School in Mang’elu, Kitui West, and gave out hormonal birth control, incuding the Norplant, a hormone-infused rod used to prevent pregnancy that is inserted under the skin, and which is effective for up to five years.

Like all methods of hormonal birth control, one of the mechanisms of the Norplant is to alter the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation should fertilisation occur, thus causing an early abortion. As Kenya's Daily Nation reports, it also has a number of known side effects, including prolonged and irregular menstrual bleeding, breast pain, vomiting, weight gain, and hair loss, among others.

"Duped"

Angry parents told the Nation that the girls, who are between 14 and 17 years of age, were duped into taking family planning drugs. One parent, Mrs Munanie Muusya, said her daughter was given the Norplant and she had withdrawn her from the school for treatment. "We are shocked that this was allowed to happen. What those people did will encourage our girls to carelessly engage in unprotected sex and they can easily contract sexually transmitted diseases," Mrs Muusya said.

Representatives of the Catholic Church, which sponsors the school, have strongly condemned the incident, and a local senator said it was "unacceptable" and "bordered on criminality".

Infiltrating schools

There have been calls for the arrest and prosecution of the activists, as well as for them to be made accountable for any health risks. The headteacher of the school has also been accused of negligence for allowing Marie Stopes into the school. Mr Kwale said he believed they were there to conduct health awareness to girls. The Marie Stopes staff were left alone with the students as he did not expect them to go beyond the guidance and counselling lessons they had requested.  "Obviously, no one would authorise such a thing in a school. They came with community health workers known to us and we trusted them but we are all trying to establish what happened during the meeting," he said.

Promoting illegal abortion?

The Daily Nation also reports that Marie Stopes in Kenya (where abortion is illegal except where the mother's life is in danger), have recently caused controversy by running Facebook adverts promising relief to women dumped by their boyfriends after getting pregnant or whose family planning methods have backfired. The first advertisement was in the format of a photo of a gazelle with the words: "Hata chali yako akiruka ball usistress … we gatchu" (Even if your boyfriend refuses to take responsibility for your pregnancy, do not worry, we got you).

News in brief:

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