A conversation I had about teenage pregnancy reminded me of my teenage years. When I was growing up my mum was the bad cop and my dad the good one, they had completely different ways of talking to their children and even punishing them for the wrongs they committed. At a certain age when the boobs started showing through my skin-hugging tops and village boys started ogling, my mum warned that boys were not to be entertained.
She did not clearly state why, and being young, I wasn’t going to argue with her or challenge that rule. I remember walking out one day to chat with a guy over the fence, just chatting nothing else. I had never had sex or even thought of it. My mother got wind of the fact that I had some ‘over the fence’ proggie and reported me to my dad. That marked the beginning of a bumpy relationship with her, I felt betrayed by one who should have protected me. Who was I going to share my secrets with?
Some of my girlfriends say they used to have intimate conversations with their mothers about sexuality. Poor me, I discovered everything on my own, I was reported and punished for practicing the things I had learnt, but was I entirely to blame? No, I refuse, my parents needed to play a role.
Sexual discussion is taboo in many African homes, today we see the number of teenage mothers increasing because we still have parents that are unwilling to have an honest conversation with their children as they grow older, and undergo natural processes of growth. We see young mothers struggle to raise their children even when they themselves have not matured, I am sure they would not have put themselves in that position had someone talked to them about contraception and the risks paused by having unprotected sex. It cannot be true that a 15-year-old wants to be a mother.
There are girls that drop out of school because they know nothing about menstrual hygiene, all that is part of sexuality, and you find only a few parents willing to educate their children about it. Several organisations are doing their best to empower teenagers about their rights to sexual and reproductive health services, but it’s the whole taboo mentality among parents and guardians that needs to be done away with. Essentially, even if a teenager is empowered when they go back home and try to show how much they know, they will be reminded of who provides the shelter and food.
One could argue that sex education is incorporated in the curriculum, which is right, but how efficient is it? Are teenagers really getting equipped? Also, there could be a problem there because the same person expected to teach about sexuality is a parent who cannot have that conversation with their own child. Will they competently teach another person’s child? We need family based solutions; we may not stop teenagers from having sex but we can ensure that they have it safely.Follow https://twitter.com/@JackieLumbasi