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NAIROBI WOMAN REPRESENTATIVE ASPIRANT ESTHER PASSARIS [PHOTO | COURTESY]

Passaris on why she delayed getting first child, her sentiments on viral photo with Babu Owino

Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris has revealed that she got her first baby when she was 31 years old.

Ms Passaris says her decision to get her first baby in her thirties was driven by the desire to welcome an offspring into the world when she was prepared emotionally, psychologically and financially.

“I had my first child at the age of 31. Families need to be planned. Children don’t need to be mistakes; they need to be planned and welcomed into a good environment,” Ms Passaris told eDaily.

The businesswoman-turned-politician was responding to the question: “What are some of the challenges, she thinks, are facing a majority of the city woman aged between 25 and 30?”

She said joblessness and single-parenting are among key challenges facing Nairobi women in that demographic.

“If employed, or self-employed; and are in intimate relationships, they have jobs that cannot sustain their lives; and their husbands, probably, do not have good jobs as well,” added Ms Passaris.

“There is depression; there is increased violence in relationships.  We have a culmination of all social issues which are going on in Kenya, and are affecting the woman in her twenties,” she said.

‘WE SHOULD TALK ABOUT FAMILY PLANNING’        

The Nairobi Woman Rep said it is high time the young city woman was taught the importance of family-planning.

“I say, in terms of what we have achieved for women, we are at D-(Minus). For us to be at A, we need 50-50 gender parity in the government, we need sanitary towels to be available for every girl; we need schools that give meaningful education to the girl child; we need dignified jobs for them,” Ms Passaris observed.

“I feel we should talk family planning; it is an issue. When you have a 22-year-old woman with four children, there is a problem there, coz she doesn’t even have a job. So, she is having the children because she has not had family planning education. We need to talk about family planning, and the church has to understand that the burden is too big to bear, not just for the State but even for the persons themselves,” said Ms Passaris.

“When these young women give birth, they are doing so while frustrated and depressed. A child needs to come into a happy environment, a happy home and a stable parent. I celebrate the women who are struggling to fend for their families. Please, young women, let us family plan. Let us ensure that we get financially empowered before we start getting children because children are very expensive to maintain.”

A February, 2017 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) showed that, contrary to popular belief, Nairobi accounts for the highest regional percentage of children living with both biological parents.

The study showed that two-thirds (67 per cent) of children in Nairobi live with both parents and the Kenya average is 55 per cent. By contrast, children are least likely to live with both parents in Eastern (49.4 per cent) and Western (49.5 per cent).

Eastern (province) accounts for the highest probability of children living with the mother even when the father is alive – more than a quarter (27.6 per cent) of children respondents in the survey reported doing so, followed by Coast province (24.1 per cent).

Central was third at 23.2 per cent. On the other hand, Nyanza accounted for the highest percentage of children living with the mother with the father having passed away, at 8.8 per cent.

DON’T RUSH TO START FAMILIES

Ms Passris urged young women not to rush to start families, when they are not financially buoyant.

“I’d like to advise young women that you can have children late and still be a good parent. There shouldn’t be a rush to start families. At 22 having three or four children, I think it is a problem. We have a lot of single mothers. This was an area which Nasa was going to address, I hope the government takes it up. I think when the government said maternity services were free, a lot of people said: ‘Wow, let’s go have children’.”

Ms Passaris, 53, is a mother of two children; a daughter Makenna Maria Ngugi aged 22 and a son, Lefteris Ngugi, who is the second born.

AGE OF CONSENT

In early March, 2018, the French government proposed making 15 the age of consent for sex after two high-profile cases in which men escaped rape convictions despite having intercourse with 11-year-old girls. It would be a first for France, which does not currently have an age of consent.

While the punishment for rape when a victim is younger than 15 carries a heftier penalty under French law (20 years), prosecutors must prove that the sex was forced.

Well, Ms Passaris thinks the French government was “being realistic”.

“I think the French government is being realistic. Even in Kenya, girls are having sex at the age of 15, and probably even younger. We do have laws that prevent men from having sex with girls below the age of 18, but, honestly speaking, sex with girls aged below 18 is happening. For me, abortion is not a birth control. If we know that our children are having sex at an early age, then let’s make contraceptives available for them. Safe sex, they say, is through use of condom, but I also say education is important. What France has done is what is happening all over the world. It is almost like we are in the sexual revolution; that is what is happening right now. Sex is in their faces, it is everywhere.

“I know I might receive a lot of backlash for my comments, but I am Catholic, just like Melinda Gates. I stand with her, when she says that she wants to make contraceptives available to 100 million girls worldwide, who are having sex and are not ready to be parents. To be a parent requires one to be prepared psychologically, emotionally and financially. Just because you are having sex, you shouldn’t have to have a child which you are not ready for.

“Orphanages are packed to the brim, and the government has no funding for that,” said Ms Passaris.

VIRAL PICTURE WITH OWINO

The first-time MP also spoke about a controversial September, 2017 picture showing her standing “too close” to Embakai East MP Babu Owino. The image sparked speculations online that the two legislators had more than a work relationship. Of course, Mr Owino dispelled rumours that he was ‘eying’ Ms Passaris.

And now Ms Passaris says those rumours were started by people, who were “idle”.

“You know what they say about me; and what they think about me, doesn’t involve me; that is theirs. I have no time to think and worry about what somebody else thinks about me. So long as I am right with my God; and I am right with my family, that’s all that matters to me. And I am right with the society that I want to serve. So, rumour-mongering, fake news.., I don’t have time for that. And I tell Kenyans don’t waste your airtime and bundles doing that; use it to make some money so that you can empower yourself,” she said.

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EDITORIAL POLICY: Permission to use quotation from this article is granted subject to full credit of source being given by referencing the direct link of the article on edaily.co.ke

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