Today I share with you an article by Jackie Mbaiwa Makuvatsine, who writes for the NewsDay in Zimbabwe, the article was published in the NewsDay of 29 July 2015 and is published here with full permission from the newspaper…
Full of hope: Tariro girls!
DRESSED in cream blazers with different ribbon colours at the arms and collars, the Junior Parliament members in Zimbabwe look superb and determined. These youngsters look to the future with curiosity and fortitude; it looks so bright they do not dream of anything deterring them.
News about adolescent girls in Zimbabwe has been reported to a large extent recently, after prosecutor-general Johannes Tomana revealed what is in the Zimbabwean constitution, which women and a large chunk of the populace did not know, that 12-year-olds can consent to sex.
This did not go down well with women and girls’ organisations and they called for the ouster of the prosecutor-general.
This has also exposed how active adolescent girls are in sexual activities; this is in contrast to the country’s culture which expects girls to abstain from sexual activities till they are married.
Experts have cited that when comparing rural and urban girls, those living in the rural areas are twice as much affected by teenage pregnancies as statistics show that 144 per 1 000 girls in rural areas fall pregnant as compared to 70 per 1 000 urban girls.
There were reports late last year of a sharp increase in teenage pregnancy with “92% of all sexually active girls aged 15 to 19 being in some form of a marriage”, due to cultural or religious norms.
Statistics obtained from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Zimbabwe indicate that child pregnancy for the past five years has sharply increased with most pregnancies being recorded in rural areas.
To reduce the increase of child pregnancies, a representative from UNFPA said: “As UNFPA we advocate for delayed sexual debut for young people and continued availing of the right set of information, skills and services to allow young people to make health and informed sexual and reproductive health choices to enable them to realise their potential in life.”
Teenage pregnancy is a serious issue that may seriously impact the future of a young woman. Any teen pregnancy will be a challenge as teens typically lack skills needed to handle a pregnancy and motherhood.
A teen pregnancy may also impact the baby. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading national public health institute of the United States, notes that babies born to teens may have weaker intellectual development and lower skill set scores at kindergarten. They may also have ongoing medical issues and behavioural issues.
Education may be put on hold when a teen becomes pregnant. Some pregnant teens may decide to leave high school. Others who were planning to attend college in the future may put off that experience after becoming pregnant. They may decide to focus on the baby or getting married rather than pursuing further education.
Uncertainty about the future may arise when a teen is pregnant. A teen may feel she does not have enough knowledge to be a mother. She may also have fears about how having a baby will impact her own life and dreams for the future.
Once their baby is born, teenagers may not be willing or able to give it the undivided attention it needs. A teen may not be an adequate mother because she is overwhelmed by the constant needs of the baby. She may grow annoyed at the lack of freedom to interact with her peer group due to the baby.
Financial difficulty may arise during a teen pregnancy or after the baby is born. It is expensive to raise a baby. Teens who do not have full-time employment may struggle to cover the basic expenses of life upon having a baby.