SAT Calls For Harmonization Of Cultural, Religious And Statute Laws To Improve SRHR Access

HARMFUL traditional, cultural and religious practices have over the years been major contributing factors towards the perpetration of sexual abuse , Gender Based Violence (GBV) and to a larger extent inhibits access to Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) services, hence the need to integrate customary laws and statute law.  

By Patricia Mashiri

Speaking during a harmonization of culture, religion and human rights in promoting SRHR dialogue in Harare, Mrs Hamida Ismail- Mauto , the SRHR Africa Trust (SAT) Country Operations Manager, said SRH Rights should not be infringed by law, culture and region.

We need to work together and come up with a solution which enables the youth to access the SRHR services without any inhibiting circumstances hence law, culture and region should work hand in hand and evolve to suit the needs of the young ones. The youths should be able to make choices in access to SRHR,” She said.

Civil Society has been pushing for the age of consent of SRH services to be 12 with the aim of improving access to SRH services, reducing teen pregnancies and new HIV infections in young people.

Speaking during the same event, Professor  Claude Mararike said, “…we have rules, regulations, procedures, principles and policies to follow in life. If we follow these, we will be people. Laws change with time but we need to follow them so that we will be counted as people. The Shona culture says boys and girls have their own spaces where they can air out their views.

“Young people have their perspectives to follow but they should consider that we need continuity of culture, leaving behind what we all agree we can no longer carry but taking a leaf of the good things the culture has. We should all do what we should not regret in the future.”

Meanwhile, Mr Musa Kika, a Human Rights lawyer said the general public should start
having SRHR conversation everywhere including the in family set ups such that every-
one is empowered and should also know what the law says about it.

“The law can protect or destroy people, however, there is need for young people to take up positions of power and decisions making such that when decisions are made some of their decisions will be taken up and be considered. Religion, culture and human rights cannot be separated when we are discussing about a person. Everyone has a choice to choose religion and culture he/she likes. When look at culture, it seeks to pursue the good in the humans same as religion. Human rights at its core is about those two. The problem comes when we want to pursue one and  truck the others that’s when oppression comes,” Mr Musa Kika said.

Pastor Maxwell Kapachawo said there has been confusion with religious leaders not understanding what the youths want.

“Of late, we have been missing each other along the road. As much you say we don’t understand you as young people, you also did no understand us as leaders. We have been putting a silent motion on issues we felt were uncomfortable to discuss about and these include SRHR issues. There has been lack of action by church and  lack of action by the leaders, hence there is need for a cultural revolution,”Pastor Kapachawo said.

Professor Ezra Chitando from the University of Zimbabwe said, “Culture does not make up people but people make culture. As parents, and elders let us grant space to the young ones so that they realize their reality. Whether we view from a religious or cultural view a person is creature that has rights.”

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