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Tag: sexual assault

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In the full circle by Oghenewoke Atariata

Adolescent health is of immense importance to the general population. The level of health education amongst this age demography ranging from 10 – 18 is crucial to having safe and satisfactory sexual health. So that brings us to the question, what are the sources of health education for adolescents?

As technology and information dissemination improved over the years, the media has become an essential part of our lives. And with just a click of a button, some random person can put up information that can be consumed, without any form of fact check or verification of author credibility. If the news appeals to your better nature and is trendy, it becomes the news. But it is time we rethink how we use these powerful tools at our disposal. There is the need to let the experts do their job in their area of expertise.

Media is a major source of information to young people; studies show that the same is true for adolescents. But there are ramifications to our actions, and this is a call to self-consciousness to examine what we put out there, because like it or not, we are all stakeholders in adolescents’ health education. Regardless of what part we play, we may have positively or negatively, passively or actively played a role in adolescent health. Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp status, Instagram, etc., are some of the popular social media networks through which adolescents get their information, and this increases the danger of misinformation.

Some common myths around sexual and reproductive health include: sex cures dysmenorrhea, sexual activity helps enhance body shape and beauty, pregnancy cannot occur during menstruation, lack of sexual activity affect sperm production, lack of sexual activity results in waist and back pain, no one gets pregnant the first time they have sex, only vaginal sex is sex, etc. These are some of the lies told to coarse gullible adolescents into sexual activities that may result in unintended pregnancy and contracting STIs. In other instances, these myths can affect; personal hygiene, psychological health, and physical health with long-term morbidity effects such as infertility, adopted risky sexual behavior, and in worst cases, death.

Ignorance can indeed prove costly to the ignorant. And we do not have enough conversation around the damages that can occur through incomplete or misconstrued information. The effect is like a cascade that will continue to spiral till we eventually forget how it came about to begin. Whichever way you look at it, knowledge is still power; there will always be some impact. And to this end, it is imperative: to verify the information and the credentials of the author before we spread them, support the works of well-meaning community-based organizations to provide accurate information for adolescents, and scrutinize the contents we like, share, or upload on our social media handles. You are possibly educating someone passively or actively.

You just never know.

ADVOCACY

The Nexus between Cross-generational Sex and Rape

Cross-generational sex is defined as a sexual relationship between an adolescent girl and a partner who is older, usually by 10 or more years.

Reports in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries shows that young women aged 15-19 are involved in cross-generational sexual relationship.

Studies indicate that relationships between young women and older men are common in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa and are significantly related to unsafe sexual behaviour.

Similar studies reveal that such relationships are largely premised upon material gains, Studies from Cameron, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana, Swaziland and Uganda among others find that young women engage in sexual relationship with older partners for economic survival;

funds to cover education-related expenses; enhanced status and connections in social networks;

improved life opportunities the greater the economic asymmetries between partners makes it very convenient for the men to use their financial status to get them gifts, services, or money which are exchanged for sex from younger women and such women are dependent on these older man for financial support.

A girl ultimately has little power to negotiate for anything better for her life and if she does she’s exposed to a lot of dangers which includes rape and where a young woman does assert herself, she may face sexual and physical violence.

 A study conducted in Swaziland among girls 14 years and older reported that 20 per cent of the girls were sexually active because of financial reasons (McLean, 1995).

Another study in rural Tanzania found that 52 per cent of female primary school students and 10 per cent of female secondary school students reported that the reason for having sex was for money or presents (Matasha, et. al., 1998).

In addition, in a study in rural Ghana, the majority of both in-school and drop-out girls admitted that the most important reason for having boyfriends was financial, and a further one-third said the reason was for the purchase of clothing and other goods.  

According to a 17-year-old out of school Ugandan young woman who was 15 years younger than her partner:

‘He would pick me from home secretly and take me for film shows in town. I would always lie to my mother that I had gone to my Auntie’s place and would spend nights with him.

( Moore and Biddlecom 2007). 

At the end of it all, he asked me to show him that I loved him by having sex with him and I complied. I could not refuse because I was ashamed of all the things he had done for me.

Many girls are just like her because of the feeling of being indebted to the acts of “kindness” by their partners for financial assistance provided.

They also feel they should endure any inhumane behaviour that their partners put them through as they believe they don’t have a choice.

So there comes the question: Coercion or Consent?

Sexual coercion is unwanted sexual activity that happens when you are pressured, tricked, threatened, or forced in a nonphysical way. Coercion can make you think you owe sex to someone. It might be from someone who has power over you, like a teacher, landlord, or boss.

No person is ever required to have sex with someone else and many girls are not aware of that fact.  

Many authors when writing about cross-generational sex describe a continuum of behaviours from situations in which the younger partner participates voluntarily in situations of coercion using violence and threats.

However, the complexities associated with “voluntary” behaviours are difficult to decipher.

Even with the apparent agency in their actions, young women and girls may be vulnerable to exploitation in cross-generational relationships given the lack of choices facing those living in poverty or the need to pay school fees and purchase uniforms and school books.

The Constructs of gender that encourage female passivity and male aggression and propensities to violence increase the imbalance of power in sexual partnerships between young females and older males.

There is consensus that perceptions of gender particularly of masculinity and what it means to be a “real man” impact males propensity for violence against women and girls, and too often females’ acceptance of violence from spouses, boyfriends, sexual partners, and others.