Shamwari yeMwanasikana, a Non- Governmental Organization that provides support for and supports the empowerment and emancipation of the girl child in Zimbabwe has vowed to continue fighting for adolescents and girls to access Sexual Reproductive Health Rights Services (SRHS) without any restrictions.
By Staff Reporter
The development comes at the back of media reports that the ministry of health had shot down a request by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and the Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS to have Section 35 of the country’s Public Health Act amended to allow young people to access health services even in the absence of an adult or guardian.
In a statement, Shamwari yeMwanasikana said the rising of teenage pregnancies in the country were cause for concern and his could only be reduced if these adolescents were allowed access to SRH services.
In a nutshell, the portfolio committee recommended that parental consent should no longer be sought when accessing sexual reproductive health services. In a ministerial report presented by Minister Sithembiso Nyoni in parliament as reported by Zimbabwe Standard on the 7th of March 2021, she stated that about 5000 teenage pregnancies had been recorded in January and February.
“This is a worrisome number. There is a high possibility that the number could be more than the recorded taking into consideration non recorded or documented cases. We acknowledge the standpoint of the Honorable Minister of Health and Child Care, Constantino Chiwenga on rejecting the recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee. It is however, that the rejection comes at a time when the escalation of teenage pregnancies has become a pandemic on its own,” said Shamwari Yemwanasikana.
They added that the right to access SRH services should be upheld to those who seek information on it and necessary policy changes and amendments should be made to ensure that the life of the girl child is preserved.
“There is need to develop policies that set out the benefits of SRH services, accessing information and services on SRH does not mean that we are moving away from morals and cultural values and stakeholders should work together in making sure that teenage pregnancy statistics do not continue to escalate, that we do no continue losing daughters and sisters to backyard abortions and that those who are sexually active are able to make informed decisions. Therefore, age of consent should be based on the adolescent’s sufficient maturity to understand the risks, benefits and consequences of the information being availed to them.”
Shamwari yeMwanasikana added that they acknowledge that culture and morals are Zimbabwe’s founding values but times and culture has evolved and evidence on the ground points to devastating facts that now more than ever, adolescents and young people are engaging in Sex and unprotected sex leading to a spike in new HIV infections, Sexually Transmitted Infections and Early Unintended Pregnancies (EUPs).