By Daniel Chigundu
PRO-Women rights group Katswe Sistahood says it is launching the “Staying negative campaign” which is aimed at helping girls in marginalised areas protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and related diseases.
The 30-day campaign which comes just a month before the commemoration of the Day of the African Child is also seeking to interrogate why HIV prevalence rate is higher for girls compared to the boy child.
In a statement Katswe said there have been so many speeches about protecting girls adding that it was now it’s time for real action through the campaign.
“We are very excited to be launching the: Staying Negative Campaign (May 16th), a month before the Day of the African Child. The next 30 Days are important for us and as always our starting point is storytelling in a safe space.
“And we are asking why is HIV prevalence rate among our girls 15-24, which is three times than in their male counterparts? Why is it so hard for girls to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies, HIV and STIs including HPV which causes cervical cancer?
“And for our little sisters who are HIV+ ; are they always able to access the support they need, for example so that they access treatment, negotiate safer sex, avoid re-infection, so that they stay AIDS negative?
“What about our little sisters – girls under 18- who are being sexually exploited and forced to sell sex for survival- can they negotiate safer sex with Pedophiles? We’re getting many answers from Hopely, Epworth, Caledonia and Hatcliff. So what? We have 30 days to act!! Instead of speeches let’s choose action and give meaning to the Day of the African Child on June 16,” said the statement.
Various initiatives such as the Condomise Campaign were launched as a way of trying to bring awareness to adolescents about various protection methods available on the market, but the campaign has been criticised left-right and centre.
However, according to Katswe Sistahood nomatter that economic or societal challenges no child should ever have to sell sex for survival.
“Our girls are being targeted by much older men and sexually exploited for as little as $0.50c for food. Often these men are violent; many of them refuse to use condoms. As a result, some of the girls are now mothers, and now even more vulnerable as they have more mouths to feed,” said the rights group.
According to the National Adolescent Fertility Study (NAFS) commissioned by UNFPA and Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC), 9 percent of the adolescents aged between 10-19 years had ever been pregnant which can be broken down by age group to mean 17 percent of adolescents aged 15-19 years and 0.2 percent among the 10-14 year olds had experienced pregnancy.
The NAFS identified such things as poverty due to orphanage, lack of knowledge and location as some of the reasons adolescents are engaging in sexual activities.