By Michael Gwarisa
THERE is a raging debate on whether Zimbabwean schools should allow condoms to be distributed in schools to school going children.
A number of campaigns including the Condomize Zimbabwe drive have made strides in ensuring every sexually active citizen has access to protected sex regardless of race, age, religious or political beliefs.
However, powerful sections of the society have been instrumental in blocking the move to avail condoms in schools citing various reasons. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora said Government does not intend to dish out condoms in schools and instead urged parents who were concerned about the sexual activities of their children to do so.
A number of reasons have been thrown around in an effort to make the issue of condom distribution in schools a non event. Some of the reasons include, religion, traditional and cultural beliefs, fears the move would lead to increased sexual practices among students and others reasons.
Justified as the reasons may be, there still remains even bigger reasons as to why Zimbabwe should speed up the adoption of condoms in schools. Both government and ordinary citizens should look at the bigger picture if they intend to save the future of their young ones.
Here are some of the reasons why Zimbabwean schools should legalise condom distribution in Schools.
1.) Children born with the HIV virus!
Even though Zimbabwe has made strides in reducing the rate of mother to child transmission cases, there still remains a sizable number of children still being born with the HIV virus. Owing to poor health seeking behaviors and poverty among Zimbabweans, some women do not visit health care centers for PMTCT services hence end up giving birth to HIV positive babies.
Through the grace of God and availability of life saving drugs, these young ones are actually growing into very beautiful and handsome adolescents. It is from the ages 10 for girls that they feel they want a boyfriend and for boys it may be around 15. It is at this time that the risk of spreading the virus among fellow adolescents is high as sexual desires can get hold of anyone regardless of circumstances.
2.) Adolescents are having sex!
Believe it or not, adolescents are doing it!
It is a painful thought to even imagine your lovely daughter could be engaging in extra-terrestrial activities with some boy somewhere. Well here is a news flash, kids of different age groups are having sex and they are at greater risk of getting the HIV virus. Teaching your kids about protected sex at an early stage might arm them against unwanted pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Infections and AIDS.
3.) Children Being infected by their guardians
More and more children are falling victim to rape by either a guardian or somebody closer to them and in most cases these adults are HIV positive. Because the perpetrator is a close relative, some families hide the evil deed even from the police and the victim does not get urgent medical attention . This leads to HIV infection in the long run. It is unfortunate that these children might fall in love with other innocent kids at school and the risk of transmitting the virus to the next person is high. We are leaving in dangerous times hence it is critical for parents to monitor their children’s behaviors and attitude or even the slightest limp in their step so as to verify if nothing has been done to them. Even young boys also fall victim to maids and other evil female relatives and friends.
4.) Increase In Unwanted Pregnancies
Zimbabwe has of late been witnessing an increase in unwanted pregnancies. In most cases, the father is a fellow school mate or a school leaver. Early pregnancies are exposing a number of girls to extreme poverty hence shuttering their prospects of a bright future. By availing condoms in schools as well as conducting counselling and guidance lessons, our kids stand a greater chance of being responsible children who can control their destiny.
These among other reasons should push our government and policy makers to make sound decisions that protect our future generation from extension. The World Health Oraganisation recently issued a warning over cases of a rare breed of HIV drug resistant virus.
It can not be business as usual, we can not prioritize our cultural or religious beliefs over the future of our children. The ministry of primary and secondary education should consider its position regards condoms and other contraceptives in schools.
The National Aids Council (NAC) and Population Services International should also work on taking Voluntary Male Circumcision to schools as it has been noted scientifically that circumcision reduces the risk of contracting HIV by 60 %.