Teach the girl-child About a week-and-a-half ago, I was part of a panel discussion with a few people from different backgrounds.
The discussion was in the form of a street debate, and we spoke about the girl-child in Namibia, and what has to be done in order to fully protect the girl-child while giving them bodily autonomy as part of their free will. Even though I did not expect much that I have not heard before, I was shocked that a Christian individual on the panel still advocated against the use and introduction of healthcare for women and children.
The Christian side of the panel still advocated for the teaching of religious and moral education; as to say, morals have taken us far enough when it comes to the many teenage pregnancies we have in the country, and not to mention the number of homemade abortions many girls have administered to themselves.
I have come to realise that it is vital to always make decisions away from a moral point of view.
Don’t get me wrong; I am fully for people who raise their daughters in Christian homes. However, my point is, these girls are still engaging in early sexual activities with men who are way older than them, get pregnant and then they are reprimanded, if not labelled, as whores, then the church punishes them.
Which part of moral education would prevent a teenager, with hormones raging at a high rate and coerced into relationships with material things that would better their lives, from engaging in sexual activities, and in return allow them to not get pregnant?
Already, the conversations of sex do not exist within most black households.
This is something that we know as a taboo to even converse about. Consequently, already the first step to ‘avoiding’ pregnancy and early sex is out of the picture.
When parents do not make it part of the dinner conversations and/or individual conversations, they automatically leave room for teenagers to figure things out for themselves, which often leads to unpleasant choices.
Given this, many girls come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and their parents are often struggling to make ends meet.
As such, if a grown man with money approaches this teenager, they will not say no, as they do not know better.
In many cases, these grown men are rapists, because they are engaging in sexual activities with young girls, and often coerce them into sleeping with them without protection in order to get the latest iPhone and/or clothes and money.
Coupled with the shame of going to buy a morning-after pill, the possibility of avoiding pregnancy is out of the picture.
Where then do the morals come in to save this girl-child?
To make matters worse, the Namibian education system is against the teaching of health education in schools.
Yes, you heard me.
Imagine not providing access to someone being able to take care of themselves through better choices such as contraceptives and/or abortion, should this person not want a baby.
Point of the matter is; it is okay for you to not want an abortion and/or make use of contraceptives.
But, do not limit the choices and platforms for those who want to do so. And even when you do raise your daughter in a Christian home, don’t just throw them in the jungle and not have conversations because you believe it is grown-up stuff.
Have the conversations as early as possible, and make sure the children understand. You should also teach the children about their possibilities should they find themselves in a tricky situation such as unprotected sex, rape, coercion and/or when in need of medical attention.
• Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting bi-weekly in the New Era newspaper. She also specialises in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation. email@example.com