Teenage girls risk life due to lack of sex education

Teenage girls are risking their lives by performing backyard abortions due to ignorance about sex education.

A survey conducted by this reporter in the high density suburb of Highfield revealed there was widespread ignorance about sex among teenage girls.

Masau Tariro, 15, fell pregnant after having one sexual encounter with her boyfriend at a party. She was pressured into having sex after taking alcohol.

“He encouraged me to have sex and promised me that since it was the first time for both of us, there was no chance of me getting pregnant,” said Tariro in an interview.

Tariro did not want to bring shame to her family so she decided to have an abortion as her boyfriend was denying responsibility for the pregnancy.

“My boyfriend told me that if I take more than four aspirin pills after sex, I won’t fall pregnant,” revealed another girl. She said many girls were shy to be seen buying contraceptives.

Abortion is illegal in Zimbabwe except when the pregnancy is deemed dangerous to the life of the mother, or when the mother is mentally unstable to look after the child as well as in cases of rape.

World Health Organisation (WHO) global statistics show that in 2010, about 20 million women had abortions and 79% were carried in developing countries. More than 200 000 women died in developing countries, most of them teenage girls.

“Young girls come here asking for assistance in abortions and at one time I encountered Grade seven pupils,” said a woman who helps girls to perform illegal abortions in Mbare.

A police officer stationed at Machipisa Police Station said cases of illegal abortions and deaths related to the abortions were on the rise.

“We urge people to desist from these acts as it is illegal and dangerous. People who have information on where these abortions are being practiced should report to police,” said the officer.

Hatfield junior Member of Parliament Sharon Shamuyarira and the Child Speaker of Parliament, Vladimir Tomuseni criticised the idea of introducing condoms in schools, saying the permanent solution was to provide sex education in schools.

They described school children who supported the introduction of condoms as “mischievous”, saying their opinions were not representative of the majority of school children.

“Giving condoms in schools is not treating the symptoms,” said Tomuseni.

“Why not address the real cause here, which is taking charge of one’s actions. Youths need to be responsible.”

The two were supported by University sociology lecturer and a social commentator, Pardon Taodzera, who urged the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture to introduce compulsory sex education.

A Harare medical doctor Mlungisi Ndebele said cases of girls who sought treatment for abdomen and stomach pains were later linked to abortions that had been performed on them in the past.

He said many young girls who had abortions had to deal with the trauma alone.

The Institute of Behavioural Change, which did a study linking suicide and abortions, indicate that teenage girls are ten times more likely to attempt suicide if they have had an abortion in the last six months.

The study showed that teens who aborted were two to four times more likely to commit suicide than adults who abort. Teens were also likely to develop psychological problems, and were nearly three times more likely to be admitted to mental health hospitals than teens in general.

The institute also noted that about 40% of teen abortions take place with no parental involvement.

Post published in: News

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