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For the girls in Kamau’s group, all of whom live in a slum, and in poverty, the risks are even greater.
Someone helps pay the rent, the shopkeeper gives her food …Just like Lynette and Eunice, many of the girls in the classroom at Zeyln Academy, some as young as 12, are already working jobs a few hours a week.They help out at a family member’s shop or wash dishes at a restaurant or wash the dirty clothes for a neighbor.The girls learn about menstruation, contraception, condoms, sex and boyfriends through a combination of neighborhood gossip, social media and TV, Kamau said.More Money, More Risk Getting a job doesn’t necessarily guarantee less dependence on men, especially at younger ages.Innately at Risk For adolescent girls in Kenya, poverty increases the likelihood of sexual exploitation.
With more 50 percent of Kibera’s population under the age of 15, competition for work, even in low-skill tasks, is steep.It’s common for older men to take advantage of a girl’s need for food, medicine and school fees in exchange for sexual favors.Those sexual favors can have long-lasting consequences, like teen pregnancy, that can anchor her in poverty. HIV/AIDS is the second leading cause of death for adolescents in southern Africa, after traffic accidents.Zelyn Academy is located in the Silanga neighborhood of Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum, a compact 1.5 square miles that 800,000 people call home.The takeaway from this lesson was the same as many others from previous meetings: Taking money from men could place a young woman at risk for a situation that no preteen should ever experience.He co-authored an extensive study on the vulnerabilities and stigma associated with HIV and AIDS affecting African youth.