By Margret Chogugudza
Tracey a 16 year old woman recently approached the civil court of Chitungwiza claiming maintenance from Simbarashe the father of her 1 year child who impregnate and dumps her.
“I got pregnancy when I was in form 3 and I had to drop out of school. The father of my child then dumped me and I was left alone with the child. My parents and my relatives scolded me for the mistake I made but what pains me most is that when I was still a girl nobody bothered to discuss issues of sex and pregnancy with me” said Tracey.
Tracey’s story is a sad reality and negative life outcome that many girls and young women in Zimbabwe are facing after engaging in sexual activities without the appropriate and necessary sex education.
Despite the fact that young people are engaging in sexual intercourse at an early age, the family which is the main agent of socialisation does not provide the young people with comprehensive knowledge on sex education, reproductive health and rights.
This is because parents do not feel comfortable to discuss issues to do with sex with their children and this has left many young people vulnerable to peer-pressure and digital media as the only sources of information regarding issues on sex.
Parents do not sit down with their children and properly discuss their sexual and reproductive health needs of their children and when they do they often talk about abstinence denying the reality of premature sexual relationships among the adolescents.
The strict relationship between parents and their children have left many adolescents with no one to confide in about their sexual relations except their friends who are in the same boat with them. Many young women are often forced to seek knowledge about sex and sexual reproductive health from their boyfriends who often provide false information in order to have sexual intercourse with the young women.
It is right time that our society change its attitude regarding sex education, adolescents sexual and reproductive health rights. Parents should comfortably talk to their children about sex education and their sexual reproductive health rights as this will help them in making informed decisions regarding their sexuality.
According to the 2015 Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS) adolescent fertility rate remains high among young girls 15-19 years old in Zimbabwe with nearly 1 in 10 adolescent girls giving birth every year.
These cases of unwanted pregnancies arise partly because of the lack of emphasis on sex education. In this era of technology, children are exposed to information about sex at an early age, therefore keeping it a secret as a parent means that the parent will have little control over what their children learns and knows about sex.
Peer pressure and the media have enormous influence in the lives of the young people and if the parents do not provide sex education to the young people, somehow they will learn and unfortunately in most cases learn in a way that have devastating consequences.
Sex education should ideally start in the home providing young women with the necessary information on their sexual and reproductive health rights since they are the ones who are more vulnerable to sexual and reproductive health problems.
Sex education is necessary for young women to make informed decisions concerning their bodies, reduce the incidence of school drop outs, unwanted pregnancy, new HIV infections, sexual violence, maternal mortality and unsafe abortion.
Parents should take the responsibility of providing their children with information on sexual and reproductive health rights as it is crucial for them to know of their rights in this era.