Parents in Kenya are outraged after discovering that Marie Stopes International visited a school and gave the young, underage girls there long-term birth control without parental permission. Earlier this month, representatives from the pro-abortion organization visited Archbishop Boniface Lele Secondary School Mang’elu, a Catholic school in Kitui, Kenya, on the International Day of the Girl Child. Parents and administrators say they were told that the Marie Stopes staffers were there to talk to the students about health awareness, but they evidently had their own mission.
According to Harriet Owire, who led the Marie Stopes team, the girls were given a lecture on reproductive health, and then individual girls were given counseling if they wished. She did not dispute the claims that the girls were given birth control without parental consent, however; instead, she refused to discuss the issue. Parents claim that their teenage daughters were given birth control, including Norplant, an implanted birth control device that lasts for up to five years. Some parents are so angry that they are calling for the Marie Stopes activists to be arrested, with some even saying that their daughters were “duped” into taking the birth control.
“We are shocked that this was allowed to happen,” said Munanie Muusya, whose daughter was given Norplant. “What those people did will encourage our girls to carelessly engage in unprotected sex and they can easily contract sexually transmitted diseases.” Kitui Catholic Diocesan Secretary for Education Fr Julius Muthamba called it “scandalous and criminal,” and slammed the staffers for their actions. “The Catholic strong stand against contraceptives is widely known. It’s sad that this happened inside a school that we sponsor but more fundamentally the negative effect in spoiling the girls morally,” he said.
The principal of the school said that he was not informed beforehand that this would be taking place. “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. Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua also expressed anger over the incident. “This is a grave matter. Exposing children to contraceptive treatment of whatever nature without the consent of their parents is unacceptable,” he said. “I thought the government had banned school visits in the third term. Parents are not even allowed to visit their children in schools this term. I can’t visit children in schools to motivate them as they prepare for exams. But strangers are allowed into a school to administer contraceptives on minors!”
Multiple organizations have been pushing family planning in Africa, while politicians from countries like France and Canada have called for the population growth in Africa to be slowed down, leading to accusations of eugenics. Many people, like African pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha, have expressed their outrage over this, calling it “colonization” and an attempt to push things onto African women that they do not want or need. “There isn’t a popular demand,” Ekeocha said during a BBC interview. “If you go to Africa, what people are asking for every day — because I was born in Africa, I was raised in Africa, I continue to go to Africa many times a year — you just speak to any ordinary woman, and I think contraception might be the tenth thing she says, if that.”
She also said that African women are not being told about potential side effects of birth control, but only that they needed contraceptives to escape from poverty. The activists, like those from Marie Stopes, then leave the women on their own to deal with any potential consequences. “Someone from a western organization — one of these western organizations in Africa — came and put IUDs into [African women] and told them this is what you need to come out of poverty,” Ekeocha continued. “That is not what African women need. That is not the single indicator to come out of poverty. What Africans need is education, and opportunities, and good government.”
“There are Africans who don’t have access to education,” she said. “What children are looking for is a way to get into school. Someone like myself, I was born in Africa, I was raised in Africa. My lifeline out of poverty was education. It was not contraception.”
This is just the latest in a number of scandals for Marie Stopes. The abortion chain, which partners with Planned Parenthood, recently landed in hot water when it came to light that staffers were being paid bonuses to pressure women into having abortions. Inspectors compared the facility to a “cattle market” where women were rushed through counseling, and did things like clean while patients signed the consent form rather than listen to them or answer questions. If the woman did not have an abortion, then the staffers were penalized. Patient privacy was also compromised, with no curtains in the recovery area and no privacy for patients during the procedure itself.
A previous report also found that women were pressured to have abortions, including at least one woman with learning disabilities who did not understand what was happening. The bodies of aborted babies were also thrown in the trash, and staffers were found to not follow proper infection control and sterilization protocols.