Abstaining from sex a way of keeping off HIV infections and early pregnancy has become a little farfetched. An official of the United Nations Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has asked nations to stop preaching abstinence to teenagers because it is “not practical.”
Speaking at the ongoing capacity building training for media on Early and Unintended Pregnancy in South Africa, the official blatantly pointed out that majority of the teenagers are sexually active, adding that it is high governments stopped wasting time preaching abstinence but focus on promoting safe sex.
Ms Patricia Machawira, UNESCO’s HIV and Health Education Advisor for Eastern and Southern African (ESA) insisted that eastern and southern African countries should put the focus on real practices that can help girls not to conceive early and avoid being infected with HIV through promoting condom use and contraception.
“The percentage of young women aged 15-19 years who had been pregnant was high in all countries, more than 25 per cent in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. There is evidence that teenage pregnancy has not decreased over time,” Ms Machawira said.
Girls will continue to get pregnant at an early age if the community refuses to admit that they are sexually active and abstaining is outdated. Lack of comprehensive sexuality education policies and poverty are among major contributing factors of early and unintended pregnancies in eastern and southern Africa.
According to UNESCO’s Media Consultant David Wood, leaders and policymakers should now focus on realistic ways of keeping girls in school but also have strategies of ensuring that victims of early pregnancies are taken back to school.
“In several countries in the region, particularly in rural areas, child marriage is a cultural norm that leads to and results from adolescent pregnancies. Some parents are said to force their girls into early marriages to relieve themselves of the burden of taking care of the girls and to benefit from receiving bride price,” Mr Wood said.
As for the countries drafting policies intended to end early and unintended pregnancies, the officials have advised that they also cater for boys and men who make girls pregnant but also ensure that parents, teachers and society members are involved.