The Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr Henry Madzorera was shell shocked last weeks by the research findings of a study into sexual and reproductive health and rights for adolescents and young people.
The findings were revealed at the SAFAIDS stakeholder sensitisation and project launch held in the capital under the theme: Investing in young people is investing in the future. The research was carried out by Doctors Patrick Mamimine and William Muhwava of Southern Africa Research Capacity Development in five of the country's 10 provinces. It was funded by the European Union as part of it's initiative to improve young people's access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.
It found that 7.2 percent of pupils in the five provinces responded that they had had sex with a teacher for favours and more boys responded to have been sexually abused by their female teachers. Outside school 16.2 percent of the respondents were victims of sexual abuse, boys included.
"Guided by the age group in which we were conducting research and the sensitivity of the subject matter, it took the form of an anonymous self-completion questionnaire. We would make the respondents sit far apart to minimise them influencing each other. We would encourage them to honestly and confidentially fill in the responses," explained the researchers.
Madzorera said he was shocked by the findings. In the past such abuse has generally focussed on the vulnerability of the girl child and women. There is now need to re-direct our focus and special needs to protect boys as well. Boys are now an endangered species and the project comes at the right time," he said, and promised to take the issue seriously at government level.
"The ministry alone cannot deliver health. We need partnerships and partners must take these challenges seriously. The media must create a high density of knowledge and understanding so that we impact adolescents," he added.