RIGHT Here, Right Now Zimbabwe alongside other organisations have submitted their position paper to parliament proposing there be removal of age restrictions to access to Sexual, Reproductive Health and Rights Services.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Speaking at a SafAIDS arranged male engagement workshop on removal of access to SRHR to adolescent girls, Youth Engage Programs Manager Ignatius Chipendo said there have been discussions surrounding age of consent to sex, marriage and access to sexual reproductive health.
We have already submitted a position paper now to parliament alongside other consortiums and partners such as SafAIDSm ACT Alliance,” he said.
He added that discussions in Zimbabwe with regards to age of consent to sex, age of consent to marriage and ultimately age of consent to access sexual reproductive health rights services has taken a bit of a tangent.
“Age of consent to access to sexual, reproductive health and rights without age restrictions is now centre stage. What we are concerned about is about whatever the case might be for example most adolescents of the same age have their own relationships. We are not talking about intergenerational relationships, from anyone above 16 going to someone below 16,” Chipendo said.
Chipendo added that once this access to SRHR without age restrictions is addressed, health workers will be protected.
“As civil society we are concerned about ensuring that access to services, access to reproductive services for young people should be without age restrictions. This ensures that a child as young as nine which Zimbabwe has already evidenced that they are indulging.
“But the fact is if a young person is indulging, especially when they come to the health centre to access health services, they should be given the services. What that also does is it protects the health worker.
“We know that the health service provider is liable to legal action in case something happens to that child. That already creates challenges not only for the young person but the health service provider. So this will ensure that the health service provider is protected,” he said.
Organisations like SafFAIDS, Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council, to mention but these two have established youth friendly clinics in several districts in Zimbabwe where young people access SRHR services without hassles.