Contraceptives for kids – the debate no one is having
I have listened to politicians, parents, teachers and religious leaders speak in public forums about the Reproductive Healthcare Bill 2014 and one thing is very clear, they are all against the provision of sexual and reproductive health services to our children.
The minister of health is on record saying that the new bill will promote the erosion of our cultural values among the young generation.
What nobody is talking about though is why this bill was introduced in the first place. This bill is not just about provision of contraceptives to children, in fact it is only in section 33 & 34 where it speaks about reproductive healthcare for adolescents and because that is where this noble bill is causing controversy, allow me to talk about the provisions of those sections.
Section 34 States:
“(l) The Board is consultation with government institutions and other bodies shall:
(a) facilitate the provision to of adolescent- friendly reproductive health and sexual health information and education;
(b) facilitate the provision to adolescents of confidential, comprehensive, non-judgmental and affordable reproductive health services;
(c) develop policies to protect adolescents from physical and sexual violence and discrimination including cultural practices that violate the reproductive health rights of the adolescents; and The Reproductive Health Care
(d) facilitate adolescents access to information, comprehensive sexuality education and confidential services.”
Those opposed to this bill claim that it will promote immorality among our youths, what they don’t say is that our youths are already “immoral” as we speak. Statistics have shown that girls as young as 9 years old are dropping out of school due to early pregnancies – some caused by the same teachers, parents and religious leaders who are against this bill.
The most recent report on the rates of new HIV infections indicated as much as there was an overall decline in the rate of new infections, the was actually an increase in new infections amongst teenagers therefore begging the question, how do we save our children?
Our parents, teachers and religious leaders should appreciate the fact that our children don’t listen to them. Parents rarely have time to talk their kids as they spend long hours in search of money and further education that by the time they get home the kids are already asleep. With the digital age our kids are more exposed to harm online than our parents were decades ago.
What nobody is telling you is that there is nowhere in this bill where it talks about a blanket distribution of contraceptives to children. The crossest to that would be part “b” of section 34 which states: “facilitate the provision to adolescents of confidential, comprehensive, non-judgmental and affordable reproductive health services.” It is however noting that this part of the bill follows the part that talks about provision of adolescent friendly sexual health information and education.
What that bill indeed seeks to do is empower our children to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive health by themselves. We refuse to accept the fact that they are already making that decision but to their own detriment. Empowering them to make those decisions will involve making them understand that sex is not the right thing for them at this stage but also equipping the few who will still want to engage in it anyway with the information they need to be safe. This way we will be protecting future generations from HIV and unwanted pregnancies which will definitely result in a cycle of poverty.
It is a tough choice to make I understand, but remember we are choosing between allowing some of our kids to die and equipping them with the information they need to make the right choices.
Your leaders need to understand this when time comes for them to vote for the Reproductive Healthcare Bill 2014. Start this conversation and let your leaders know that you care about our future generation.
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The views expressed in this blog post are my own