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Teenager pregnancy a grave concern to the SPYL

By Cde. Sioni Aluta Iikela
On the onset, I would like to reflect on the following, last year as you may recall the SPYL National Executive Committee of the SWAPO Party Youth League (SPYL) took a decision in their effort to make the SPYL responsive to the challenges facing the SPYL members in particular and Namibian youth in general.

This is so, because SPYL is the only youth wing in the Namibian political arena that is capable of coming up with suggestions and solutions to remand the challenging situation facing the youth of Namibia. It was through this that some of the youth, myself included were appointed based on the academic and professional background, and the activeness in the society. I was appointed the Assistant in the Department of Health, Population and Environment, and was tasked to come up with a policy paper of the department, just like all other assistants did to their respective departments. It was a challenge to me and I vowed that I will have to deliver a well researched and formulated paper.

As part of my work toward delivering a research based policy paper, I established a Facebook page for the Department where informed discussions took place. At the same time, I also did a research, through interviewing members of the public, including school learners and students at high institutions and some of the community and faith leaders and teachers. The sampled populations maybe small as I did not necessaraly consider sampling size due to time constrain.

However, for the purpose of this policy paper as far as the subject matter is concerned, I deemed it fit that, the number of people I interviewed and the discussion thereof was enough. It was through these two different efforts that the teenager pregnancies came under the spotlight and suggestions were made as possible solutions including sex education to be aggressively carried out and the distributions of condoms in school, reintroduction of Bible in school curriculum to instill religious values in our younger generations, etc. I have given this background so that you grasp the understanding of the whole issue, and see how Medias has taken the issues of condoms out of proportion.

The distribution of condoms in school is not an isolated effort, but it is married with a number of efforts. It is really unfair that Medias has chosen only to pick the resolution of the SPYL's 5th Congress that talk about condoms distribution and left out many resolutions that seek to address the many issues most especially on teenager pregnancies. We acknowledged that poverty is one of the main contributing factors to the high rate of pregnancies among the youth. Hence, our congress deliberated on issues of bread and butter, which speak to our youth in both rural and urban areas from different background.

We came up with more than 152 resolutions that speak volume on the fight against poverty. However, we said, we cannot just sit idle waiting for poverty to be overcome. What if the fight over poverty will take us the next 100 or more years, will we just look at pregnancies rate increasing, and all we say "ayee" we are fighting poverty, so we should not think about other means of preventing pregnancies and the spread of STDs amongst the school kids. One of the arguments which are popularly used is that apparently the distributions of condoms will promote sex; one wonders whether those fell pregnant got them through the Holy Spirit, not through sex.

Dear country men and women, we must realize and appreciate that school kids are sexually active and sex is happening both in school and in our surroundings. We must not be ignorantly arguing about where do kids going to have sex if in school there are only table, chairs, book, and computers and so on. We have seen the statistics, and we do not need to be rocket scientists for this.

Equally, to argue that distributions of condoms will promote sex is a double standard reasoning; why do we then distribute condoms in hospitals where we supposed to only have sick people - do we then mean the sick must go have sex? Why do we distribute condoms at public places like at workplace and even in government cars, do we then mean the public servants must have sex at work? NO.....what it means, take the condoms and when you know you have no options, use the condom to protect yourself. I must remind you that ABSTAINING remains the best option, but you cannot just shout abstain..... abstain while school kids are having unprotected sex. The protection of our brothers and sisters is KEY and paramount. I hope you will agree with me that, the technology is playing a role in the activeness of the school kids.

The issue of teenanger pregnancies is a national problem, and it must never be looked at in isolation. All of us have got a duty to play, from parents at home must speak about sex with their kids, teachers especially Life Skills teachers must talk about sex with kids, church leaders, traditional and political leaders must talk about sex with school kids. It is only through holistic approach we can be able to overcome this problem. I therefore, request all of us to honestly reconsider our position on the distribution of condoms, because the school kids are also having right to safe sex if they cannot abstain.

We must also take cognizant of the fact that school kids who are sexual active have only few places to get condoms which is clinics, this expose these kids to danger of contracting disease.

I would like to challenge those that are saying these sexual active kids can go get condoms from pharmacies and alcohol outlets that school kids do not have money to buy condoms and under our laws, kids under the age of 18 years are not allowed to go in bars and clubs. I therefore wish to state that, we must not be seen as the SPYL that promote sex, we were not, we are not and we will not promote sex. We must be seen as the SPYL that is really concerned about the states of our younger brothers and sisters. We know it is not ethical for kids to have sex and sleep around, but now that sex is happening and kids are falling pregnant in their thousands, we have to do something.

We must appreciate the time we are now, in the 21st century, we must be able to adapt to the evolving world without compromising our cultural and traditional values and norms of course. At the SWAPO Party first ever Policy Conference, His Excellency, Cde. Dr. Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of the Republic of Namibia and o'yes our Dr. Kapitaholo of the SWAPO Party said that we MUST plan for now, not for the past. The message I want to drive home is that, what was happening when my grandfather was a school kid is not what is happening now in school. If we can have a quick contrast at Catholic Church; they have been preaching about abstinence but has since warmed up to the use of condoms, I am very much thankful to them and thank God HIV/AIDS is now going a bit down. We must change with the changing world. There was once a time when operation was performed without anesthetic but today if anybody were to be given this option the answer will be NO. Similarly, toothache was treated with a plier to pull out a tooth but today it is done with improved technology.

Finally, I would like to request my younger brothers and sisters to please abstain from getting involved in sexual intercourse. Your time will come when you will be able to do all these things without anybody stopping you from doing what some of you are busy with. A LUTA CONTINUA!

Cde. Sioni Aluta Iikela
Secretary: Department of Health, Population and Environment of the SPYL.






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