ONGWEDIVA - There are many reasons that young Namibians have advanced for not using condoms, one of them they said is because the plastic sheath apparently makes sex dry and on the other hand condoms are apparently smelly.
These and many other reasons were advanced by 50 youths from different regions attending a Condomise Campaign training workshop at Ongwediva in Oshana Region ahead of the Condomise Campaign launched yesterday in the region.
Participants are from the Khomas, Zambezi, and Ohangwena and Oshana regions.
The Condomise Campaign is a joint programme of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Condom Project in partnership with UNAIDS and the Condom Inter-Agency Task Team.
UNFPA Programme Officer for Maternal Health based in eSwatini (Swaziland), Thamary Silindza said the goal for the campaign is to de-stigmatise condoms and to encourage access to quality condoms among the youths who claim the sheaths are ‘smelly.’
“The de-stigmatisation programming is designed to help communities become comfortable with the simple aspects, such as saying the word “condom”, holding a condom in its package in a non-sexual situation and discussing condoms in the context of art, performance or fashion,” Silindza said to the training participants.
Risto Mushongo from the Namibia Planned Parenthood Association (NAPPA) who works with young people said the decrease in condom usage that prevents unwanted pregnancies and spread of HIV among Namibian youth is very worrisome.
“The reasons our youth are giving for not using condoms is a call for concern, some of the reasons are that because some condoms are not youth friendly and refuse to use them. The youth reason that when government manufacture condoms they should do research and the youth must be included, and they are demanding more appealing condoms and I strongly suggest the government must listen to the youth,” said Mushongo.
Modesta Rehabeam from Eenhana said most of her peers do not use condoms because they claim condoms cause an allergy and that they are ‘smelly.’
“These are things we are telling each other as girls and when you want to be part of the group, you listen to your friends. The other thing is also as a lady if you carry a condom on you, men think or say you are cheap, why are you carrying a condom? So we all together just don’t carry and end up not using it that is the challenges young women faces,” Rehabeam said.
Mushongo suggested different stakeholders should create a youth approach centre where youth can bring all embedded activities that concerns young people.
“So young people can be able to voice the type of problems they have, we call on stakeholders to join hands with civil society and government to help fight social evils like teenage pregnancies, HIV and baby dumping among our youth,” said Mushongo.
Grace Hidinua a UNFPA programme specialist on HIV prevention said this year’s theme for World Population Day is, “Family planning as a Human Right”. “Access to safe, voluntary family planning is a human right. Family planning is central to gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment, and it is a key factor in reducing poverty. Using contraceptive should be a choice free of coercion and based on the principle of informed free choice. That being said, we thought it will be a perfect opportunity to launch the Condomise campaign today,” said Hidinua.
She further added that UNFPA advances the right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children and to have the information, education and means to do so.
The UNFPA report shows the new UNFPA strategic plan aims to eliminate all unmet needs for family planning by 2030. This is one of the Fund’s three trans-formative results at the very heart of the Plan.
In 2016 and 2018, UNFPA provided sexual and reproductive health (SRH) commodities amounting to N$14.5 million to the Ministry of Health and Social Services. These contraceptives had the potential to reach 140, 000 users with a choice of modern family planning methods.
These contraceptives have the potential to avert 48 012 unintended pregnancies and 83 maternal deaths.
* Nomhle Kangootui is a freelance journalist