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contraceptives – has enough education been done
September 23, 2013
Picture this: It’s
a Friday afternoon and a 10-year-old Grade Four pupil walks into
a pharmacy and asks for condoms. The woman behind the counter, the
age of the boy’s mother, indifferently obliges and hands the
boy a pack of the contraceptive, wishing him a pleasant weekend
and waving him goodbye.
This may sound
strangely outrageous, but that is the world we are fast heading
to. Our government, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care,
is already working towards
coming up with laws that will allow children as young as 10 years
old to access contraceptives such as condoms, birth control pills,
implants and injectables as a way to prevent teenage pregnancies.
A NewsDay snap survey
yesterday showed that most people are not aware of such plans by
government and all of those interviewed expressed shock and outrage
at the proposal. This is despite the fact that there already are
as many as 91 centres around the country where contraceptives are
being distributed to children through the Zimbabwe National Family
criminalise sexual relations involving children below the age of
16 and, although distribution of contraception and Aids prevention
tools to adolescents will have implications of tacitly allowing
such activity, the issue has not been brought before Parliament
There is no doubt that
with the advent of the high information technology era, our children
have become exposed to sexual issues and they increasingly seek
Much as this is fact
and reality, there is need to have parents being made aware of this
development to enable them to cope with counselling processes.
As it is, while parents
may be aware of their children’s exposure to sexual issues
and the danger this poses on them, very few have been made to know
that government now wants to give their children condoms and birth
The director of family
health in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Bernard Madzima,
reportedly said government took the decision to dispense contraceptives
to children as a way to curb teenage pregnancies and pregnancy-related
deaths among young girls.
He said the children
were counselled first before they were given the contraceptives.
The programme to give
out contraceptives to adolescents is called the National Adolescence
Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy and, according to Madzima,
government is working at strengthening the programme by dealing
with the legal issues that criminalise sexual activities with minors
a suggestion that moves could soon be underway to make sex with
or among minors legal.
Even organisations that
deal with the prevention of HIV and Aids seem to be amenable to
the idea of dishing out contraceptives to children on the grounds
that, much as abstinence would be the best option, the fact remained
that children are fast getting sexually active at tender ages.
Our point is that parents
still have a role to play in their children’s moral issues.
Giving youngsters pills and condoms may be a way to prevent pregnancies,
but its impact on the moral fabric of society must be considered
Has enough education
been done to prepare parents to cope with this development? Not
much, from our perspective.
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