Oh come on – let’s be serious!

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I AM listening to the news and now even the high-profile lawmakers are advocating for the reality that girls as young as 12 years old can actually consent to sex. Wow! This is shattering.

In a world where many people have dedicated their lives to fighting and advocating against early child marriages, it is shattering to learn that there are still some people who strongly believe that young girls have no choice when they become pregnant so they ought to get married.

Well, no judgment passed, but I have so many questions that have left me sleepless and wondering where exactly we are headed in terms of the future of our dear beloved children, especially the often disregarded girl child.

Every single day, the world witnesses the birth of hundreds if not thousands of the girl child. There seems to be a conspiracy theory the world over that patriarchy as a system is the best and hence these girls are born into a system that’s harsh and continues to perpetuate violations against these young lives.

Despite so much progress having been made through movements, individuals and many other spaces that advocate for the girl child’s rights development, reality is still harsh. Young girls in Africa are still used as patronage, appeasement sacrifices, child brides and most disgustingly the target of older men’s lustful pleasure. It is the last point that got me reflecting.

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I am sure by some chance we have all come across a situation where a young girl is part of a harsh sexual network. The reality is that these young girls become objects of an older man’s sexual pleasure with little or no power to negotiate for safe sex, hence their lives become more complicated with the realities of poverty, disease and all sorts of challenges that come with being in that network.

Study after study has revealed that young girls need support by provision of information, opportunities and any form of protection that can be offered so that they are informed enough about sex to make the best choices about their sexualities. Now we are actually agreeing that at 12 it is legal for them to consent to sex. Why don’t we also let them drive, vote and do other “adult” explorations since we are saying they can consent to sex? By saying that a 12-year-old can consent to sex, we are simply sending them out to be devoured by men who have ceased to view young children in uniform a their daughters, but as targets for their lustful pleasures. Am I missing something here?

A 12-year-old is a child, is she not? How does she qualify for wife material when even her body is not developed enough to mother a child?

I do not know about you and am not sure this technological generation even understands fully what sex is about. This is not a religious matter. It could be, but for now we are focusing on the realities of a 12-year-old consenting to sex.

Does she even know enough to consent to sex in terms of choices, being pleasured, pleasuring, the consequences and you name it?
This is seriously outrageous! What is she consenting to again?

I am curious on who these 12-year-olds are having sex with. Men their age? I do not think so as statistics have revealed that 12-year-old are mostly involved in multi-generational sex that has exposed them to many disease as they often do not have the power to negotiate for safe sex.

Moreover, they are often disadvantaged to even negotiate — after all they are 12 years old and have quite limited knowledge on sex and sexuality. Yes, they are having sex, that is a fact, but is this consensual law ever going to also come in with a very strong support system to facilitate for empowerment and other responsibilities that come with it?

What is amazing is the amount of energy expounded towards ensuring young girls being able to consent to sex. Sex workers’ rights have been ignored with the lawmakers not caring in protecting them — and many do benefit from their work — but now are so overzealous about a 12-year-old consenting to sex and letting paedophiles walk around scot-free.

We need to be serious if the girl child’s life is going to be worthwhile in the next few yeas. Yes, culture is dynamic, but such dynamism is lethal to say the least.

Young girls aged 12, when they fall pregnant, are encouraged to return to school so that their chances of a brighter future are enhanced.

Education does not automatically guarantee a bright future, but it helps promote literacy. If the girl child can read and write, this might help her with chances towards development.

Now when lawmakers say it is better that a child gets married after becoming pregnant as she has no choice, I disagree. The education institutions are filled with women who did not manage to get an opportunity to get educated much earlier and now that they realise the need for a higher qualification of education they do return to school.

The question is: Why steal this opportunity for education from a mere child? Why don’t we realise that young girls can return to school after having a child or during pregnancy if they choose to so that their chances of enhancing their education are increased. Some argue that the girl might be a bad influence to other children.

That again is a myth, children are different and make informed decisions when given enough information and even when they do not — I have learned that socialising a child is a very hectic task. So we deal with what we have, but we should not surrender our children to fate without supporting them.

I have often argued that sex is good and that some Zimbabweans are having sex at very high levels, be it with or without the right person.

Could this level of activity now be spiralling out of control that we actually see a 12-year-old as a great lover instead of the child that they are?

We have fought so hard as feminists, child rights activists, parents, guardians and so on just to stand by and watch the future of our girl children being squandered by some sex-loving culprits.

A 12-year-old is a child despite whatever experiments they pull or wherever their curiosity takes them.

Consenting to sex at this age has more dangers than advantages so as a generation of leaders we have to take a firm stand and reflect on what we are doing with a special regard to the girl child and her future.

Let us not stand by and watch as lawmakers destroy the very girl child we continue to advocate for, let’s speak out, stand out and say no to this level of abuse of the law at the expense of our daughters! Let’s do this!

 Grace Chirenje writes in her personal capacity and loves stimulating conversation. She would be excited to hear from you.
You can contact Grace on graceruvimbo@gmail.com, follow her on twitter @graceruvimbo or Facebook Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje.

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