Children should be granted the right to education and access to various contraceptive methods to help stem unwanted pregnancies and early marriages, stakeholders have said.
BY Phyllis Mbanje
The emotive debate on contraceptives has once again been brought to the fore with partners calling for communities to recognise that young people were engaging in sexual activities early.
Although the response has been divided right down the middle on whether children should have access to contraceptives, evidence has shown that many children are actually falling pregnant and becoming infected with sexually transmitted diseases due to lack of knowledge on sexual reproductive health (SRH).
“It is high time we should seriously look into the issue of teaching our children on the available contraceptive methods. It is no secret that young children are indulging in sex, but the largely patriarchal society has not made it easy to discuss the problem,” chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Biata Beatrice Nyamupinga said.
Speaking in Highfield on Friday on the sidelines of the public hearing on ending child marriages, Nyamupinga said it was better to prevent pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases by educating children on SRH and access to contraceptives.
“Were are not saying this is a licence for promiscuous behaviour, but all we are concerned about is children falling pregnant and giving birth to children also,” she said.
Linda Kanzara from Restless Development said issues to do with access to contraception for children should be openly discussed.
“These children indeed are having sex at a very early age and we need to start looking into issues of access to contraceptives,” she said.
Child marriage has been blamed for fuelling the ongoing cycle of inter-generational poverty, with at least 70 million girls worldwide believed to be child mothers.
Zimbabwe remains one of the countries with a high burden of child marriages, with about 31% of girls being married before their 18th birthday and another 4% before they turn 15.