By Sandra Muyambo
Zimbabweans are a conservative people. Some of the stories that make the headlines locally might not do so elsewhere. While some might take it as a shortcoming, I believe this is evidence that at least we still have a conscience. We are not forsaken. We still haveÂ God. Thus when news broke out that 22 boys and 22 girls from Nyatsime College were suspended on allegations of having sex at school, it became big news. It became a scandal. People received it with mixed feelings and skepticism, most of which have been negative. Some have blamed it on the school authorities, some have blamed it on lack of self discipline and others have said charity begins at home.
I am not one to play the blame game myself, but perhaps the question we should all be asking, for lack of anything better to say, is â€˜Did the young boys and girls use protection?â€™
Donâ€™t get me wrong â€“ I know how like-minded Zimbabweans feel about this issue. A lot has been said already, but – condoms in schools? Absurd or maybe it is too Western, but honestly where is this world headed to? Once it was the no-sex-before-marriage gospel, but now it has become almost fashionable that when school pupils and college students are in a relationship, sex is the in-thing.
People have said the idea of distributing condoms in schools accepts the inevitability that some young people, regardless of the strength of an abstinence message, will still have sex. Singer, in aÂ 1994 publicationÂ quoted an article which purported â€œsexual responsibility today means using a condom to prevent pregnancy and disease.
Many advocates of the condom distribution idea have used the tired argument, “They are going to do it anyway so at least let’s protect them”. This is so interesting! Next, the argument will be, there is homosexuality in prisons, we better distribute condoms in our prisons. By the way such proposals will not end there.
But does introducing condoms in schools solve the problem of promiscuity? No, it only attempts to lessen the ill-effects. Have we given up on the abstinence gospel to the extent of giving all our hope to exposing our innocent little children to condoms in schools? I feel this idea is just as bad as pouring fuel into an inferno and I also feel there is no pragmatic justification for this proposal. Did that argument originate in Zimbabwe in the first place or we have once again swallowed hook-line- and sinker some of these purported human rights issues from where else but the place where the sun sets?
That same West which has allowed pupils to carry guns to school? That same West where the problem of HIV and AIDS originated? That same West where moral decadence has left the Ancient Babylon looking like the Holy city of God?
Yes, AIDS has taken its toll in Zimbabwe. The high HIV prevalence rate needs some extra-ordinary measures. Yet the sobering fact is this: HIV and AIDS is not a problem in the US. It is not a problem in the UK, nor a problem in the rest of Europe. HIV and AIDS is not even a problem in Arab countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Though the first HIV case was discovered in the US, it is now a Sub-Saharan Africa problem. This leaves more questions than answers.
Has anyone wondered why Sub-Saharan Africa has become the most affected region in terms of HIV? Is it that we love sex more than the rest of the world? I WILL KEEP ON SAYING NO! The problem is simple. Black Africa has lost its identity. Black Africa has accepted solutions from a part of the world which has itself failed. The Arab World which is perceived to be having harsh laws has not fallen into the trap.
So who says introducing condoms in schools will solve the HIV/ AIDS problem in Zimbabwe. Is according school pupils the right to condoms not like telling them to go ahead and do it? Is it not like a road sign that tells the driver â€˜Proceed with caution?â€
Condom distribution in schools is totally against all that is morally and traditionally right in that it gives students a mixed message about sexual activity. What students are taught in the classroom and what the condom distribution program implies are in conflict.
A. Students are taught that sex nowadays is dangerous.
B. Students are also taught that they should practice abstinence in order to prevent STD’s.
C. Yet, some non-governmental organisations feel that they should provide condoms “just in case.”
D. In the war on drugs, children are encouraged to “Just Say No,” yet in the war on STD’s and HIV; students are taught to “Just Say Yes” – as long as you use a condom. This sends mixed signals to the students and also gives them a false sense of security.
If young people believe they will be â€œsafeâ€ when using condoms, they are much less likely to be deterred from engaging in dangerous and immoral behaviour. It seems active encouragement of condom use in schools advances the onset of sexual activity among young people and this would mean the added temptation to engage in sexual activity that is â€˜protectedâ€™. Moreover, just the idea of being exposed to condoms will drive the sex imagination in the young childrenâ€™s minds. This will unnecessarily divert students from their focus, and they would be more ready to indulge in sexual activities. When in relationship, they would think more about sex rather than concentrating on their studies.
Some parents have responded negatively to this proposal of introducing condoms in schools saying this will negatively affect the education system. They argue that schools should not be allowed to become bases for sexual activity.
A quote from a local newspaper says with regards to this issue of making condoms available in schools,Â â€œIf the proposals are accepted, Zimbabwe will be following in the footsteps of South Africa, which in 2007 introduced the Childrenâ€™s Act that gives children 12 years and older the right to access contraceptivesâ€.
Making condoms available to school children has bullied some parents to submit to an agenda that promotes sexual promiscuity in innocent children at their most vulnerable age.
This unrestricted distribution of condoms has also proven detrimental to the role of the parent as some supporters of the condom plan seem to feel that parents are inadequate to render a sound judgment about their children’s welfare which is more like taking authority from the parents.
Of course, there are some inadequate parents out there who feel they cannot discuss sex matters with their children but giving condoms to school children only covers up these problems; it doesn’t attempt to seek any solutions.
Also, besides presenting a potential offense to people from various religions, I feel the effectiveness of condoms has just been grossly exaggerated. Research says if these condoms are not used properly, they can be ineffective. Imagine the picture of your 12 year old son, daughter, sister or brother trying to put on a condom to protect himself or herself.
I believe sexual activity should at least be recognised as an activity best reserved for mature adults so instead of preaching condom use in schools, more effort should be placed on working to introduce more parenting workshops on how they can best help their children in as far as pre-marital sex is concerned.
Yes, some have said abstinence-based sex education has failed but optimists have counteracted such arguments saying we must not get tired of teaching our children the right things to be done in life.
If under-age pupils are sexually active as some people say they are, then they must be â€œadultâ€ enough to look for condoms using their own initiatives rather than to â€œpoisonâ€ the moral environment for all the other innocent children.
One raged parent responded to this whole idea saying, â€œOnly those dubious immoral characters who do not understand parenthood can afford to canvas for condoms for under-aged children.