By Alvin Mwangi
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a lot of adolescents and young people remain and stay in homes. It is saddening that everyday we hear of injustices that adolescents and young people in all our diversities are going through in Kenya.
Access and enjoyment to the highest standard of health care is important to all adolescents and young people including the “left behind”, LGBTQ+, persons with disabilities, persons who inject drugs, young people from marginalized areas
Access to free range and affordable contraceptive information and services like condoms, high rates of adolescents and teenage pregnancy, proper menstruation health management (MHM), sex, sexuality, access to safe abortion to sexual violence survivors, post abortion care (PAC), sexual debut, drug and substance abuse, sexual intercourse, HIV/AIDDs, STIs, ante natal care (ANC), harmful practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage, sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) including child abuse and effects of domestic violence and even deaths from unsafe abortion are some of the social, reproductive health and health issues that the adolescents and young people in Kenya are going through. The surge of these issues does not stop for pandemics! Thus preventative information and services is vital.
According to chapter 4 of the bill of rights; article 35 mentions that every citizen has the right of access to information held by another person and required for the exercise or protection of any right or fundamental freedom. Access to information enables one to make informed decisions about their personal lives at present and even in the future.
As a country we need to acknowledge that young people are engaging in sexual activities and are vulnerable to teenage pregnancies and many other reproductive health challenges. We should protect them and ensure they make well-informed choices about their health and general well being. By providing them with age appropriate comprehensive sexuality education we will be able to give them a chance to make decisions about their own bodies, own these decisions and choose to be safe and healthy.
Stigmatizing or mystifying sex education only raises curiosity and as we are all aware, curiosity killed the cat. It’s time to speak up! Living in denial and burying our heads in the sand will not cut it. Speaking about sex should not be seen a taboo, it should not be seen as it will increase sexual behaviors and activities among young people. Sex and sexuality education is not only about sex, but also social and health issues that young people are facing.
Comprehensive sexuality education has constantly been subjected to opposition,
myths and stereotypes around it which have led to a total misunderstanding of what it entails to. Issues like LGBTQ+ rights, access to safe abortion for rape and defilement survivors is recognized within the constitution of Kenya, 2010 amongst other policies and guidelines. Addressing issues around rights of the sexual minorities; LGBTQ+ is important to ensure no violence or discrimination is witnessed.
The ministries of education, health together with other stakeholders like, parents, communities should ensure access and provision to age appropriate CSE especially during this times when we have a lot of young people at home owing to unemployment and disruption of provision of some services within some sectors. These actors need to avail information as they work through community systems, online platforms, health facilities, churches media to speak on sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) information.
Sexual Reproductive health and rights advocate
Network of Adolescents and Youth of Africa (NAYA Kenya)