OPINION: Crisis pregnancy centres not the solution for rape survivors

The emergence of crisis pregnancy centres in Kenya is a problematic solution to survivors of sexual violence who are pregnant as a result of rape or even defilement.

Most of these pregnancy crisis centres are filled with misinformation and hinder access to vital services for survivors of rape and defilement such as safe abortion. This is unacceptable.

According to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) 2014, 14 percent of women and 6 percent of men aged 15 – 49 reported having experienced sexual violence at least once in their lifetime.

The Government of Kenya has enacted several laws and has policies and regulations to prevent and control forms of violence against women and children, including the Bill of Rights within the Constitution of Kenya (2010), the sexual Offences Act (2006) among others.

According to the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 and the National Guidelines on Management of Sexual Violence in Kenya, termination of pregnancy and post abortion care in the event of pregnancy from defilement and rape is a key right of a survivor of sexual violence.

No one should force or manipulate survivors of rape or defilement to keep a foetus that they do not want to.

A foetus that would continuously remind the survivor of the painful un-consensual “act” that they went through.

Some of these centres receive support from conservative national and local government leaders and are led by powerful religious organisations, nationally, regionally and even globally.

Across Africa and in Kenya to be specific, many of these centres incorrectly inform rape and defilement survivors and are fed by medical myths surrounding access to safe abortion, which is their right as a survivor.

In most of these centres, women face moral judgment when they express their desire for access to safe abortion.

For example, women who are raped as a result of incest are told: “no right to take away the ‘baby’s’ life”. 
Some are told that they would be committing ‘murder’ if they had an abortion.

Such centres are founded and based on myths and false knowledge that force survivors to keep pregnancies that they don’t want. Some centres target vulnerable women and teenagers, including students, minorities and migrants without access to other services.

These centres are all over in Nairobi and beyond the country. They assist women and girls after pushing them to keep unwanted pregnancies as a result of rape or defilement.

Some centres have driven survivors to suicide and endless depression. Sexual violence results in trauma, sexually transmitted diseases and sometimes pregnancy.

The government through the Ministry of Health and Interior should adequately investigate pregnancy centres and ensure that rape survivors are accorded the appropriate help that they need.

Alvin Mwangi is a sexual reproductive health and rights advocate in Nairobi, Kenya

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