By Adelaide Moyo
PARLIAMENTARIANS say sex education is necessary for young people in order to curb child pregnancies following a sharp increase in the number of girls who gave birth over the past year following disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Zimbabwe last year reported its first case of the respiratory ailment prompting authorities to shut down schools as part of measures to slow down the spread of the disease.
According to the Women Affairs ministry, at least 4 959 girls fell pregnant during the period, while 1 174 cases of child marriages were recorded between January and February this year.
Speaking in Parliament last week, chairperson for Zimbabwe Women’s Parliamentary Caucus Goodluck Kwaramba said teens should be equipped with information to avoid pregnancies.
“If only these girls were taught and made aware of the consequences, they would not have fallen pregnant.
“It should be their own consent knowing what will happen after the action they would have taken. This is why we are saying children should be taught about the consequences of indulging in sexual activities,” she said.
MDC chief whip Paurina Mpariwa, on the other hand, said it was no longer a secret that teens were indulging in sexual activities, adding that there should be ways to safeguard the children’s rights and their access to healthcare.
“Children must be educated on steps to be taken in the event of unwanted pregnancies as well as how to prevent them so that they continue with their education.
“In terms of safe sex, our children do not have access to enough information. They do not know the repercussions of these early sexual activities. I suggest that there must be radio and television programmes which educate these children about sexual reproductive health and awareness programmes on abstaining from sex,” Mpariwa said.
A recent survey by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) indicated a sharp increase in child marriages globally, with 14 million underage girls married off each year.
In Mbire district, nearly 387 kilometres north-west of Zimbabwe’s capital, officials recorded a 25 percent increase in teenage pregnancies over the past 12 months.
Mbire provincial maternal and child officer Rudo Mari-Masanganise recently told journalists in the capital that child pregnancies had become a social problem in the province.