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Choices: A riveting exploration of student life’s perils, promises

Life & Style
Choices is the story of Temba and Zviko, a cohabiting couple who subvert traditional gender roles, with Zviko assuming the role of financial provider.

CHOICES is a compelling and insightful film that delves into the intricate challenges faced by students in higher education.

It unflinchingly exposes the perils of semester marriages, substance abuse and sexual consent while exploring the insidious role of power and financial dynamics in shaping these issues.

The film deftly depicts semester marriages as a prevalent campus culture, where students engage in short-term relationships for the duration of a semester.

Choices is the story of Temba and Zviko, a cohabiting couple who subvert traditional gender roles, with Zviko assuming the role of financial provider.

However, Zviko’s financial dominance manifests as abuse, as she berates Temba to perform domestic chores and even resorts to physical violence.

Temba endures this maltreatment out of desperation for money and material comforts, highlighting the power imbalance inherent in such relationships.

Choices astutely suggests that financial disparities within semester marriages can lead to coercion and even unprotected sexual activity.

Temba’s vulnerability and desperation make him susceptible to exploitation.

The film’s portrayal of this dynamic sheds light on a potential reality for students in colleges and universities.

While semester marriages pose significant risks, including sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies and psychological distress, Choices ultimately underscores the importance of informed decision-making and seeking help when needed.

It invites viewers to reflect on the choices they make and the potential consequences that may arise.

In the intricate web of human relationships, Choices shines a spotlight on the paramount importance of consent, particularly in the area of sexual activity.

As the Criminal (Codification and Reform) Act unequivocally states, any sexual activity without explicit consent constitutes a grave crime.

Consent is not an enigma, but rather a deeply rooted concept of respecting one’s partner’s autonomy.

Initiating sexual advances should be accompanied by unwavering regard for the other person’s right to say no.

Silence does not imply consent, nor does an ambiguous “maybe”.

Consent to a seemingly innocuous encounter (such as a sleepover) does not automatically translate into consent for sexual activity.

All parties must engage in open and honest communication, clearly defining the boundaries of their interaction.

Choices vividly illustrates the stark contrast between healthy, consensual relationships and those marred by coercion. Mendy and Ishe, two young lovers, embark on a romantic date filled with laughter, dancing and shared experiences.

However, as Ishe becomes increasingly persistent in his advances, Mendy’s discomfort is evident. Her hesitations are met with force, leading to a heinous violation of her sexual rights. Such actions, as outlined in the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, could result in severe legal consequences.

Choices unequivocally emphasises that consent should always be the cornerstone of any sexual encounter.

It is a responsibility shared by both partners to ensure that the boundaries of respect are never transgressed.

This, young people must take heed. There is no compromise.

Furthermore, the film adopts a dim view of drug and substance abuse.

Prior to Ishe’s assault on Mendy, he is depicted consuming an unidentified substance, potentially a toxic or sexually enhancing drug.

This portrayal underscores the notion that intoxication impairs one’s capacity for sound decision-making.

It is also evident that individuals under the influence of drugs or substances may exhibit diminished inhibitions and an increased propensity to violate the rights of others.

Ishe’s defense of intoxication, while potentially insufficient in a legal context, highlights the dangers inherent in substance abuse.

Choices serves as a cautionary tale for students of higher learning, urging them to avoid drug and substance abuse.

The film subtly conveys the message that such substances can lead to impaired judgment and an increased risk of perpetrating or becoming victims of sexual violence.

However, the film is not solely a narrative of despair.

It offers a glimmer of hope through the character of Shamie, who engages in a conversation with Temba, a victim of abuse.

Temba initially believes that he must endure the abuse to secure financial benefit.

With artistry and sensitivity, Choices encourages students to seek counselling and reproductive health information at the numerous resource centres located on university campuses, which are staffed by trained professionals.

Through public screenings and dialogues, Choices, a powerful film, shines a spotlight on the vital work of organisations like SAYWHAT in educating young people about sexual and reproductive health.

Like a beacon guiding ships, Choices has illuminated campuses nationwide, casting a light on this crucial topic for tomorrow’s leaders.

The advocacy and programming work in the field of sexual and reproductive health is undeniably complex.

It involves challenging long-held taboos and promoting responsible sexual practices.

The use of anatomical models for demonstrations, once considered highly embarrassing, is now recognised as essential for empowering young people with the knowledge they need to make informed choices about their health and well-being.

Choices serves as a poignant reminder that young people deserve access to accurate and comprehensive health information in order to lead long and fulfilling lives.

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