We say NO to premature access to contraception!
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Protect the Children of Zimbabwe,
Say NO to Premature Access to Contraceptives
We say NO to the proposed amendments to the Public Health Act aimed at creating a law that allows children as young as 12 years old to have access to Reproductive Health Services, without parental consent, in particular contraceptives.
Why say NO?
a) The Word of God
The Bible is clear about the sexual conduct of all believers regardless of age. Sex is to be consummated in marriage only. Outside of that, any sexual activity is sin. Proverbs urges families to train up a child in the way they should go, and Matthew 18:6 says, "...if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in Me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Reproductive health teaching is wisdom to share with children, but facilitating their premature sexual activity is causing them to sin. (everything is permissible but not everything is profitable).
b) The Law
The Constitution of Zimbabwe defines a child to be a boy or girl under the age of 18 years of age. The State has to adopt policies and measures to ensure the best interest of the child, enjoyment of family or parental care among other rights. The Law further makes it an offence to have consensual sex with a young person under the age of 16 years. Case law recognizes that children under 18 years of age are invariably physically, physiologically and psychologically immature to shoulder the responsibilities of marriage and child bearing. As it is, the law should increase the age of sexual consent as opposed to tacitly lowering it by allowing children to access contraceptives. It is crucial that our laws are aligned to ensure that marriageable age and age of sexual consent are the same at 18.
Our National Statistics suggest that the median age at first intercourse for women in Zimbabwe is 18.7 years. 6% percent of women age 25-49 have had sexual intercourse before age 15, and 40% before age 18. 43% of the females and 5% of the males aged 13-17 years who had their sexual debut in the 12 months preceding the survey, had unwanted first sexual intercourse, that is, they were forced, pressured, tricked or threatened to engage in sexual intercourse. Another study by the Ministry of Health shows that 0.2% of children aged 10-14 years old were ever pregnant and 33% of adolescent girls aged 18-19 years.
This information does not justify putting into law children as young as 12 to access contraceptives. If anything, the surveys confirm the need to align marriageable and age of sexual consent to 18 years. The surveys further suggest that a lack of education and poverty are key drivers of premature sexual encounters. Children in rural communities have also been more prone to childhood pregnancy than their urban counterparts. It is these factors among other key ones that need to be addressed to limit the vulnerability of young persons.
d) Our values
Our African culture recognizes and values sexual purity. Young girls and boys are culturally trained by designated aunts and uncles and guided into preserving sexual purity till marriage. The obligations of the parents and family unit should not be taken away and our children left to their own demise sexually.
e) Medical issues
Contraceptives naturally affect many organ systems including the heart blood vessels, clotting of blood, the brain and bones among others. Known complications include bleeding, hypertension, blood clots, heart attacks and migraines. Prolonged use is also associated with risk of breast and cervical cancer. It would be ill-advised to give them such medication without their parents’ involvement, especially since the parent will eventually shoulder the burden of any complications.
We refuse to stand by and watch. Instead we call for:
- Legislative alignment of marriageable age and age of sexual consent to be 18.
- Support for young girls to continue in school.
- Programmes aimed to support households that are economically marginalised.
- Strengthening the capacity of families to support children and young people in establishment of value systems, self-control and mastery and positive behaviour.
- Development and promotion of innovative approaches for information sharing on reproductive health such as websites, social media, mobile phone applications, and interactive learning platforms.
- Provision of clear guidelines on effective counselling, messaging, and supporting of young people by healthcare workers.
- Use of the school curriculum to teach children about relationships, emotional and hormonal management and control.
- Community participation (especially the Church) in protecting children from abuse and premature sexual debuts.
This agenda if allowed will succeed to:
a) Weaken the pillar of the family
b) To remove children from the blessing of honouring and obeying their parents.
c) To remove the fear of God by defiling the marriage bed.
We as children of God, will be counted righteous based on what sin we reject. Our resistance and intercession will save many souls.
1 Corinthians 6:12, "Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything. "Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"--but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”
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