HIDING BEHIND PRAYERS

Girls blame church keshas for teen pregnancies

Mary, 16, says she was impregnated by church member who refused responsibility

In Summary

•They claim night church services are used to lure girls into sex

•Church elders normally cover up the mess to protect image of their church

Kaloleni MP Paul Katana addresses journalists in the company of religious leaders in Kaloleni on Saturday, August 10, 2019
CRISIS RESPONSE: Kaloleni MP Paul Katana addresses journalists in the company of religious leaders in Kaloleni on Saturday, August 10, 2019
Image: ELIAS YAA

A week after the formation of a religious leaders committee to oversee campaigns to reduce teenage pregnancies, churches have been put on the spot over night services.

Kaloleni residents now blame the overnight youth services commonly known as kesha for the increase in teenage pregnancies.

In Viragoni village within Kaloleni constituency, Mary (not her real name), 16, said she was impregnated by a church member two years ago but was asked by church leaders not to name the boy so as to protect the name of the church.

“I was in the same choir with the boy. We used to meet after church or during keshas. When I got pregnant I approached him and he told his father who is a church elder. The matter was handled by the church and he was to support me and the child. He has since refused to take responsibility,” she said.

Mary was in Class Six at the time. She has since joined a different school after dropping out for a year.

Agnes Katana, 19, from the same area was also impregnated in church. According to Katana, the keshas are attended mostly by youths and sometimes end at 3am.

“I was in Class Seven by then. I used to leave home for the kesha where I meet with my boyfriend then who was a member of the church. At midnight we would leave the church and go to his place," she said.

"Sometimes we would stay in the church until 3am when the service ended. Because it was still dark I would accompany the boy to his house. When I got pregnant he left the village and did not contact me anymore."

Last week, church leaders in Kaloleni confirmed that a good number of the 3,800 teenage girls who were reported to be pregnant in the constituency are members of different churches.

Bishop James Kalama who chairs the committee said the Church has failed to give the right direction to young people but the blame should be leveled on parents who do not want to support the Church in shaping morals.

“This is a very big number for Kaloleni. As a church we have failed in some way. But this is not the time for blame games but our focus is in making sure we reverse this trend. Some of these girls are from our churches,” he said.

The religious leaders were brought together by area MP Paul Katana.