BURYING OUR HEADS IN THE SAND-THE REALITY OF TEENAGE SEX

Norah is now 19 years old and has two toddlers with her, having had the first baby at 15. She confronted me seeking for assistance as she had no means to take care of her two toddlers sired by an Angolan guy who has been deported. Her youngest child is sick and she and her little child tested HIV positive. Norah recounts her ordeal, it all started when she was attending her form three at a local college in town when she started dating Randel as he was doing his form six at the same college. They were having lots of fun like any other teenagers dating as she retells it.

On her 15th birthday things got a bit out of hand when she visited Randel at his flat as they made love, one thing led to another and before she knew it they were having unprotected sex. Three months after indulging, Norah discovered that she was pregnant and she relates, ‘I could not believe it was true, that I was going to be a mother, I had never really thought about it and it was so difficult for me to stomach it…’ ‘My step mother then kicked me out of the house and she dumped me at Randel’s house who surprisingly did not deny responsibility.’ They stayed together and she conceived her second child when her first child was 1 year 6 months old. She narrated how they had fierce fights at times but could not leave the guy; she was now regretting that if only she had completed her education she could be earning a living thus being able to provide for her two toddlers.

Norah’s tale is not unique but this has become the order of the day, our children are indulging in sexual activities at an early age and for most girls it means they drop out of school due to unplanned pregnancies. In this era of HIV there are high chances that those children who engage at an early age are most at risk of infection especially in light of the fact that these days children are being born HIV positive and leaving like any other healthy child.

The Universal periodic review report submitted by the Civil Society states that an estimated 152,000 children in Zimbabwe under the age of 15 are HIV positive. These children like any other children will go through puberty and indulge with their peers thus spreading the virus unintentionally. In light of this scourge, should we as a nation continue to bury our heads in the sand and pay a blind eye to the fact that our children are perishing because of lack of knowledge. The Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council in 2007 observed that 49 percent to 52 percent of female adolescence are mothers by the time they are 19 years old. With these statistics it begs the question do we not care about ensuring an HIV free generation? Why can we not as a nation come up with realistic strategies to curb this thorn in our side that will leave our nation with illiterate youths who have dropped out of school due to unwanted pregnancies from their peers or who may most likely be infected with the virus.

As a mother I say let’s take the bull by its horns and face it that we cannot continue saying that sex is a taboo and therefore a subject which cannot be openly discussed with our children. If Norah had accessed contraceptives and had received adequate sex education, she might not have found herself in the same predicament. The reality that we have to come to terms with is that our children are so exposed these days and issues to do with their sexuality should be freely discussed so that just the mere act of having sex will not ruin their lives. The family set up is no longer closely knit as it was before which meant that aunts were always available to teach about sexuality. Every parent should teach their children about sex and tell them the reality that there is HIV and AIDS and that these days people do protect themselves when they are engaging in sexual activities.

I at one point followed heated debates on whether children should be given condoms, family planning tablets and sexuality information as some were pointing out to the fact that this will encourage the children to have sex, but let’s face it whether we discuss it or not our children are vulnerable and indulging. Modernization has surely destroyed our ethnocentricity, there is so much TV and worse still with the advent of Internet which has no ownership, how do we ensure our children are not exposed? The reality is that what they are watching on TV especially the famous soapies which are screened during family viewing time corrupt their minds. Back then when sex was a taboo there was not much TV, just folktales and even when the TV’s started there was so much censorship which does not exist now.

Schools do play a major role in molding our children as children spent most of their time at schools and from this standpoint I disagree with some point of views which have been put forward that schools should not play an active role in providing sex education. I believe there is need for both the schools and guardians to dedicate their time to ensure that our children are knowledgeable and have access to contraceptives. Is it really not better to be safe than sorry when the lives of our children are at stake than to pretend that they have nothing to do with sex and sexuality when we know pretty well that they are engaging in intercourse. Opinion article @ Tariro Tandi

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1 Comment

  1. pfimbiyangu

     /  December 8, 2016

    It amazes me too just how steeped adults are in this state of denial. The illusion that adults control adolescent sexuality persists. The illusion that men should control women’s sexuality persists. The reality that men’s own sexualities are not as firmly in their grasp as they like to think – they are driven by what is thought should be and shouldn’t be. “Its us to blame, we are allowing our children do these things and just have sex willy nilly” one man said. There we go again, I thought. This illusion of control allows us to block important conversations about healthy relationships, the possibility of platonic relationships, the importance of safe sex. Instead we use scare tactics to try and get young people to stay celiberate only to end up with them ashamed and hurting after they go about sex and relationships the wrong way

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