Thursday, 10 September 2015

WHEN IT ALL GOES WRONG

In a society where “sex” is a taboo, many children go from childhood into puberty, then struggle through adolescence and finally transition into adulthood with no clue on what constitutes of health sexual practices and what danger lies in the ignorance of the most misunderstood pillar of society, sexuality.

Parents send their children to school with the hopes that that “bold teacher” will educate them about the fundamentals of reproductive health so that they do not have to go through the embarrassment of stammering while sharing very sensitive information on sexuality with their young and naïve children. Some parents shun the responsibility because they believe sex education could be the reason their children experiment new realms of their sexuality, which in the eyes of most parents is the eternal doom of an early pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease.

Sadly, the people entrusted with the responsibility of teaching the young generation accurate information about sexual reproductive health neither feel competent nor confident enough to teach the students the age appropriate information. Most students experience the “no nonsense biology teacher” scenario where the jolly teacher who smiles through all other lessons suddenly pops into class with a gloomy face to introduce the topic of “reproduction,’ as their first sex education class.
This is barely enough knowledge for a naïve teenager battling raging hormones that push them to explore or find answers to the many changes that are happening in their bodies. This particular stage in life is better handled only by those few luck students who had a bold enough mother or father that gradually prepared them for biological, physical and emotional changes of growth through continuous sexuality education from childhood.

Unfortunately, not so many children get that opportunity in a society where sex talk is only for the grownups. This leaves many students at the mercy of the environments they are groomed in or the peers they relate with to determine what values or behaviors they adopt in relation to their sexuality.

Nina was a victim of misguided information from her peers who convinced her that being a virgin was a sign of childishness. She was always disdained by her peers who often bragged about their many boyfriends. For so long she wanted to seek advice from her mother about the pressure she faced but she knew her mom never entertained any conversation about boys in her home with her only two daughters. With no one to turn to, Nina embraced the words of her friends and soon had a boyfriend. Sadly, Annie was so naïve that her “boyfriend” easily talked her out of using a condom  on their first sexual encouter.

A few weeks later, she was feeling uneasy and told her peers who quickly brushed it off.  Ritah, her closest friend in the group decided to break the news to her, she was dumfound after hearing “pregnant” and failed to come to terms with the news for some days. Her immediate thought was calling her boyfriend Enoch, who denied being responsible for the pregnancy since she was a minor and immediately sealed off contact. Nina was running out of options because her mom would soon know. She sought an abortion which Ritah initially repulsed but later agreed to and suggested they go to the local midwife who had helped two of the girls in her group to abort. The midwife suggested that Nina was late and desperate measures had to be taken if the abortion was to occur. At this point Nina was willing to take any option provided it rid her of the unintended pregnancy.

That day, Nina did not just lose a baby, she also lost all hopes of having another baby because her uterus was damaged in the process. Till this day, Nina confesses the daily torment of the screams of that innocent child that she lost. Her story speaks for the 2.5 million adolescents who experience unsafe abortions yearly, with 14% of these happening among teenagers between 15- 19 years in low and middle income countries.

I believe Nina’s story would have been different if someone was bold enough to challenge the ‘sex taboo” and teach her accurate information on sexual reproductive health while she was still younger to make informed decisions when she was older.  Nina’s story speaks for the many girls who endure the trauma of an abortion and its effects because they did not know any better options available to them. This trauma could have been avoided with a comprehensive sex education program or efficient youth friendly services to the many youth who face similar challenges but because no one is ready to listen or offer substantial help end up choosing the dead end.


Access to accurate reproductive health information and youth friendly services is a right to every youth because it is the only way people can make informed decisions about their sexuality well aware of the impact there after.
(Image credit to www.niaje.com, www.straighttalkfoundation.org and www.timeslive.co.za)