Su­perGirls of Zim­babwe: Let’s talk more about sex

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/feature - Opin­ion Tsun­gai Chek­erwa-Ma­chokoto

FOL­LOW­ING up on the last ar­ti­cle, I did a bit more read­ing into the at­ti­tudes of young girls to­wards sex. I came across an event in­volv­ing young girls be­tween the ages of 16 and 22. This was part of a work­shop ti­tled “Su­perGirls of Zim­babwe” (SoZ). These women came in to ed­u­cate young girls on re­pro­duc­tive health. They spent five days in Bu­l­awayo and five days in Harare talk­ing about what their rights are and dis­cussing the prac­ti­cal im­pli­ca­tions of sex ed­u­ca­tion in their lives.

With the chang­ing po­si­tion of women in con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety and to keep up with the shifts in so­ci­ety, it is nec­es­sary to have a gen­er­a­tion of women who take care of them­selves in ev­ery way.

In­ter­est­ingly enough, there are not enough con­ver­sa­tions about the dan­gers of un­safe sex happening in the ar­eas that girls spend most of their time. Sex is still taboo and par­ents and chil­dren blush pro­fusely if they even see two con­sent­ing adults on a tele­vi­sion show mak­ing out.

This got me think­ing about sex ed­u­ca­tion in my day ver­sus sex ed­u­ca­tion now. I also won­dered about the dif­fer­ences be­tween so­ci­ety and cul­ture then and now, along with the preva­lence of rape in mi­nors in the two time pe­ri­ods.

SoZ gave the girls con­doms to carry around. We are aware of women car­ry­ing con­doms, but it seems less ap­pro­pri­ate for girls to fol­low the prac­tice.

How­ever, dur­ing some of the con­ver­sa­tions with the girls, we found that girls have a fear of be­ing called loose if they walk around with con­doms to pro­tect them­selves from STIs and un­wanted preg­nan­cies.

This is very sad be­cause if girls ad­mit they want to have sex, they are loose, and if they try to be chaste but en­counter ag­gres­sive boys (a trait that the pa­tri­archy en­cour­ages in males), they get raped.

This is one of the sit­u­a­tions that need to change. While SoZ had the right idea and great mo­tives for ed­u­cat­ing and em­pow­er­ing girls, it is im­por­tant to bring boys into the con­ver­sa­tion.

While vir­gin­ity is seen as a girl’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to keep and main­tain as al­luded to in the pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cle, boys need to take some kind of re­spon­si­bil­ity for their ac­tions with girls.

I have heard guys say­ing, “If she wants a con­dom, she bet­ter bring it be­cause ny­oro ndizvo (un­pro­tected sex is bet­ter)”.

This at­ti­tude takes all the re­spon­si­bil­ity of a healthy sex­ual en­counter out of the hands of the male and into the hands of the fe­male.

The more we leave males out of the con­ver­sa­tion about safe sex and a healthy sex life, the more we leave girls vul­ner­a­ble to rape and abuse.

Ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics, a woman is raped ev­ery 90 min­utes in Zim­babwe. Sta­tis­tics show that cases of rape went up, from 1 285 in the first quar­ter of 2013 to 1 524 in the same time pe­riod in 2014.

Of the above men­tioned sta­tis­tics, 780 are chil­dren be­tween ages 11 and 16, while 276 are chil­dren aged be­tween five and 10.

This can ei­ther mean ef­forts to ed­u­cate com­mu­ni­ties about re­pro­duc­tive rights are be­ing met by a re­cep­tive au­di­ence and more peo­ple are re­port­ing rape, or the worse al­ter­na­tive is that more women and chil­dren are be­ing raped.

If we are open to sta­tis­tics from other coun­tries, we may ac­cept that most cases of rape are per­pe­trated by some­one known to the vic­tim.

Op­ti­misti­cally, if the 11-16 year olds are rap­ing each other, it’s some­one from school or the neigh­bour­hood.

As much as it would be naïve to ac­cept the above op­ti­mism, it is a good place to start tack­ling the sex-ed­u­ca­tion beast.

If the boys in those age groups also re­ceived the same amount of at­ten­tion from so­ci­ety re­gard­ing sex­ual health, how many of them would grow up to think that sex is their right and they can get it from any girl they want?

How much gen­der par­ity are we striv­ing for in this sec­tor, and who is at a dis­ad­van­tage?

It is all good and well to have young women who know all about their sex­ual rights, how to pro­tect them­selves and how to keep them­selves safe.

We need to in­clude our boys, and men in con­ver­sa­tions about sex­ual health.

As much as it is taboo to talk about sex with your chil­dren, it will be your prob­lem if those chil­dren end up with STIs, un­wanted preg­nan­cies or dead be­cause they did not prac­tise safe sex.

The winds of change are blow­ing, and we need to change with the times. We need re­spon­si­ble women to carry around con­doms and take con­tra­cep­tives to take care of them­selves, but even more than that, we need men who are aware why this is nec­es­sary and also take steps to take care of their own sex­ual health.

And this can be achieved by hav­ing boys and girls talk about these is­sues to­gether, so that they each know what the other is think­ing and so that they are sym­pa­thetic to each other’s plight. Only then can we have gen­der equal­ity.

Tsun­gai Chek­erwa-Ma­chokoto can be reached on tsungi­ma­

As much as it is taboo to talk about sex with your chil­dren, it will be your prob­lem if those chil­dren end up with STIs, un­wanted preg­nan­cies or dead be­cause they did not prac­tise safe sex

Su­perGirls of Zim­babwe cel­e­brate with Bu­l­awayo girls on the last day of their work­shop

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.