Nairobi Woman Representative, Esther Passaris, triggered a heated debate early Thursday when she disclosed that she put her then-16-year-old daughter on birth control.
The lawmaker’s daughter is now 23 years old.
Speaking on Citizen Television’s Daybreak show on June 20, the mother of two said she “knew her daughter’s friends would persuade her to try engaging in sex, and as a result, she risked getting an unwanted pregnancy”.
Passaris remarks came as she and other panelists discussed the abortion ruling issued last week by the High Court. In the ruling, the High Court said abortion remains illegal in Kenya, and that it can only be induced if the life of a mother is in danger or if she stands to suffer emotional trauma due to the pregnancy.
Throwing her support behind the ruling, Passaris said parents should try as much as possible to help their daughters avoid unwanted pregnancies, instead of helping them deal inappropriately with the pregnancy.
“Her [My daughter’s] friends are already having sex. [With me], I engaged in sex at a much later age [compared to hers]. [Actually], my mother did not know when I became sexually active. [Looking at that experience, where my mother did not know about my sexual activity], I felt it was important that I take my daughter to a gynecologist to put her on the [contraceptive] pill,” said the parliamentarian.
“Parents should be realistic [that these girls get sexually active at a young age]. So, by putting my daughter on birth control, I made sure that she wouldn’t have to abort in a bid to control the number of children she would have,” said Passaris.
The lawmaker’s statement kicked up a fuss online, with a significant section of users accusing her of “poor parenting”.
Twitter user Ali Guyo said: “[It is] disgraceful of the MP.”
Daniel Davids said: “[With such parenting, it is evident that the] Kenyan morals are, [sadly], gone.”
David Galgallo exclaimed: “16-year-old [on birth control]? This is wrong! We should teach our children why they should not have sex before marriage rather than giving them birth control pills. This encourages them to have unprotected sex.”
Passaris is a mother of two; a daughter and a son.