YOUNG Women Christian Association (YWCA) Copperbelt regional coordinator Sharon Mambo says the increasing number of early marriages, teenage pregnancies and abortions during the pandemic is worrying.

In an interview, Mambo said there was need to build capacity in the girl children for them to be assertive and report any abuse they might suffer.

“When you look at the number of girls that were pregnant during Covid, Ministry of Health has the statistics but on the overall from their statistics and what we are seeing happening in the communities, is that the numbers are increasing, despite different services that are being offered by different stakeholders, like the youth-friendly corner and other health services that different stakeholders are offering. And this is a worrying fact because we don’t know where we are going wrong or where we are losing it, our girl child is really at risk. Because not only the number of pregnancies that we are seeing but also those who are aborting, who we couldn’t even like say ‘okay, she was once pregnant’,” said Mambo.

“When you look at the number of abortions, I think the last report for Kitwe, I think it’s also high. So the girls really are dropping out of school and for YWCA, [our] stance is that the key institution is family who are supposed to provide that protection. Because when you look at the school environment I think the schools have tried to the extent of having a guidance and counseling teacher, where a girl can go and seek any guidance in case of abuse happening in a home or in the school itself. I think we just have to build capacity in the girls for them to be assertive and report any abuse that they may suffer, it being at home or any environment or in the community. So we are not seeing assertiveness in our girl children that’s what I can say, there is a lapse in the assertiveness thus we are seeing these numbers of high pregnancies around the communities.”