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Memory lane: Prof Magoha’s odd views on sanitary towels, teen pregnancy



Memory lane: Prof Magoha’s odd views on sanitary towels, teen pregnancy

The late Prof George Magoha was fiercely blunt. He spoke his mind without the least care of backlash.

As a Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Education, his perception on root causes of teen pregnancies and how to tame the trend, was particularly uncanny and rubbed girls’ rights advocates the wrong way.

In June 2020 while appearing before a Senate ad hoc Committee, Prof Magoha blamed pornographic sites for the rise in numbers of adolescent girls falling pregnant.

He urged Senators “to help us start a movement that will shut down the pornographic sites because it is urgent and should have been done yesterday.”

Two months later, while on a school tour in Siaya County, he disputed the reality that lack of sanitary towels contributes to the rise in teenage pregnancies saying: “When you hear somebody saying that I gave in because of sanitary towels, that is one of the most stupid reasons that I would want to hear myself.”

Again in July, 2021, he urged schoolgirls to turn down teachers’ sexual advances, an advisory that drew the wrath of gender equality advocates and Federation of Women Lawyers – Kenya (Fida-Kenya) took him head-on.

“We would like to remind the CS Prof Magoha that school students are children, and it is the duty of the state to protect them from sexual predators and to keep the learning environment safe,” Fida-Kenya chairperson Nancy Ikinu reminded him then in a statement.

She further reminded him that: “Several laws, including the Children’s Act and the Sexual Offences Act, criminalise sexual engagement with children under the age of 18, and in 2010, the TSC(Teachers Service Commission)  issued guidelines designed to protect children from sexual abuse in schools.”

Well laws aside. He had some advice for the girls.

In May last year when he visited Kakamega Primary School, he asked Grade Eight candidates, “How can you be sexually active when you are in primary school?”

Then went on to advise them: “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and you are not supposed to even think of how you will reproduce. You will have time to do all those things that seem important now. Instead, focus on your studies.”

Nonetheless, the fact that he talked about the issue means it is a problem that calls for everyone’s attention. He has departed but he has left us with food for thought. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

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