Church leaders in Kenya are condemning allegations an international NGO administered hormonal contraceptives – including Norplant implants – to students at a Catholic high school without the knowledge or consent of their parents.
Marie Stopes International – a London-based NGO dedicated to providing access to “contraception and safe abortion services” – had been invited to the Archbishop Boniface Lele Secondary School in the Diocese of Kitui on October 11 to mark the World Day of the Girl Child.
The principal of the school said the group was recommended by the local government, were accompanied by county health workers, and were supposed to be speaking on general health awareness. He said he did not know about their pro-contraception agenda.
During the time the team from Marie Stopes were there, they were allowed to meet with the students without faculty or staff being present.
Students claim they distributed contraceptive pills, and also implanted several students with Norplant, a contraceptive rod about the size of a matchstick implanted under the skin, which is supposed to be effective for up to 5 years. The students are all between the ages of 14 and 17.
Harriet Owire, the team leader for Marie Stopes, said the team had only counseled the girls individually on birth control and refused to discuss the specific allegations that they distributed contraception to students.
Munanie Muusya told the Daily Nation her daughter had a Norplant device inserted in her arm, and she called on the government to take action against the organization.
“We are shocked that this was allowed to happen. What those people did will encourage our young girls to be careless and engage in unprotected sex. They can easily contract sexually transmitted diseases,” she said.
Father Julius Muthamba, the education secretary for the diocese, called the incident “scandalous and criminal,” and said he was demanding a full explanation from the school on how it was allowed to happen.
“The Catholic Church’s strong stand against contraceptives is widely known. It’s sad that this happened within a school we sponsor but more fundamentally the negative effect — spoiling the girls morally,” Muthamba told the Daily Nation.
Senator Enoch Wambua, the local representative for the area, said the issue was a “grave matter,” and said it was “unacceptable” that contraceptives be distributed to minors without the consent of their parents.
Wambua also pointed out that outside visits to schools were not allowed during the current school term, since the students are studying for exams.
SOURCE: Ngala Killian Chimtom