|MyAge Zimbabwe says sexual and reproductive health services mus be accessible to younger people|
MASVINGO – Some adolescents in Masvingo have called upon parents to encourage their children to access Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) services as means to reduce the number of unwanted teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among other things.
The current laws of Zimbabwe set the age of consent at 16, meaning those that are below that age cannot access SRH services.
Speaking during a Girls Choose training workshop organised by MyAge Zimbabwe at Charles Austin Theatre recently, the young people said according children the right to sexual reproductive information and contraception was the way to go.
The gathering was meant to train youths in business about SRH and disseminate information to their peers within their social cycles and places of work.
The youths said society was paying the price for depriving children the right to SRH Services.
“If a parent discovers that I am taking contraceptive, she disowns me and at the end, I could get pregnant and the effects are felt by everybody,” said a participant.
Others said parents should embrace change by allowing children to open up about adolescence and the challenges that come with it.
“They should allow us to open up to them so that they help us get SRH services in time. Many of us end up travelling long distances to get the services and the risk is that some of us do not bother as they do not want to be seen anywhere close to a New Start Centre,” said another
A representative from Population Services International (PSI) Mike Chipepera said restricting children from accessing SRH was no longer logical.
"Parents should know that restricting children is no longer the solution. They should rather be seen playing a parental role of helping their children get the services needed,” said Chipepera.
Others suggested that organisations like My Age should start sensitising the idea into young people in order to create better future parenthood.
“The best way is to start working on it now so that young people of today can become better parents tomorrow,” a participant said.
MyAge Zimbabwe has trained around 90 youths who are referred to as champions who educate peers in SRH-related issues and refer them to service providers in a non-intrusive way.
At the recent workshop, two champions won prices for referring a bigger number of people.