By Staff Reporter
A CHILD rights activist has urged parents to teach their children about sexual reproductive health including their personal rights as minors.
The call was made by the Zimbabwe National Council for The Welfare of Children (ZNCWC) national director, Taylor Nyanhete in an interview with the NewZimbabwe.com on the sidelines of a child summit in Kwekwe.
The activist said it was time parents explained the subject to their children.
“Parents are not engaging their children in terms of sexual reproductive health.
“No-one is guiding children about this subject and children being explorers of the environment they want to explore,” Nyanhete said.
“Parents must look at the development stages of their children. Sex is a subject which has been a taboo, but our children are engaged in sex.
“No-one will do it for us. If we don’t take the lead in teaching our children about such issues we are headed for a disaster. Parents must not think the internet will teach their children about such issues.
“I am urging communities to take sexual and reproductive health education and provide education to our children and the home environment is the best to do so.”
Nyanhete said increases in poverty levels at the household level compounded with the global Covid-19 pandemic was forcing many girls into early child marriages.
“The statistics of child marriages in the country are very bad. The situation has been compounded by the Covid-19 scourge. We heard that in Manicaland 400 school-going girls dropped out of school because of pregnancy. In Binga 200 while in Midlands about 40 girls fell pregnant,” he said.
“We want to believe that poverty levels are contributing to child marriages because given the challenges being experienced some girls are taking marriage as an option. Some parents are taking advantage of the situation and forcing their daughters into marriage with the hope this will improve their situation but that is far from the truth,” he said.
“As an organisation, we are pushing for the age of consent to be raised to 18 years. On the other hand, the Marriage Bill has not been formalised and this policy mismatch worsens the situation,” he said.
“There is need to speed up the alignment of laws to the Constitution. At times we feel the government is not fully committed. There are currently other bills which are being introduced that where never there and those bills have been fast-tracked.”