In life, we make mistakes, learn the relevant lessons and move on with life as more elite and rather learned beings. However, some mistakes in life tend to be permanent, say a fall that leaves you with a scar, you might be healed, the area might be painless, but the probability of your skin becoming as it was, is close to impossible. In such an instance, let us assume you fell in a dark room while looking for the light switch. Of course, you would fall because you did not know what terrain you were faced with. Well dear reader, this is the situation we face, lack of knowledge among our youths on sexual health matters that eventually turn into life scarring mistakes
We at Linda Initiative endeavour to deal with the sexual related problems such as teen pregnancies, STIs and HIV/AIDS, menstrual embarrassment, sexual abuse and menstrual related infections etc, through tackling the core of these problems, which is lack of knowledge rather than dealing with the consequences that the victims face. we plan on doing this by lighting the bulb in the room so that the youth do not trip and fall through providing sexual health education. Majority of the youth go through such problems because they did not know what to do, and in most cases, even if they knew what to do, they did not know where to go or how to do it. Say an issue like teen pregnancies, this is an issue mired with misconceptions and lack of knowledge. The teen girls are filled with false knowledge such as jumping up and down after sexual intercourse is a method of contraception instead of being exposed to safer and true methods of contraception through public education. This is just but a tiny bit of the challenges and falsehood that has filled the route that this young people have to go through as they explore their sexuality.
At age 14, Linda’s aunt (her mum’s sister) visits and takes her to a sexual health centre because now she is a ‘big girl’. Now, mind you Linda has no understanding of what this place is or why they are there. Later, they see a doctor who silently talks to her aunt and ‘something’ is inserted in her arm. Fast track to 3 years later, at a session with the guidance counselling panel at Linda’s high school, she gets an understanding of what was inserted in her arm; an implant. However, at this point she has been facing side effects that she has no explanation of. Linda is very sceptical of talking to her parents or teachers about this issue because they will fail to believe her. They might refuse to understand that she was very oblivious when this was done and that it was not consensual.
Dear reader, I know your next question is that, if the best solution towards this problem is education, why isn’t it available or already being done? Well, the answer to this is culture. Culture, especially in Africa and also the world as a whole, has always viewed anything sexual as something that should only be whispered and even at that, it should be whispered only rarely. Culture is a strong form of control for human beings as we all subconsciously aim to belong. Hence this culture has been a main barrier towards the tackling of these issues. Victims of sexual abuse, teenagers who are sexually active, young girls who are facing their first menstruations, you name it, are afraid to even take the first step towards seeking help in the form of knowledge, as this is considered a taboo or shame in their communities.
How do we at least try and solve this you ask? By being bold enough to make the community realise that this is an issue that has and will always exist. Sex and sexual issues will always be among us, otherwise, how will we come to be? Preaching abstinence at this point and time is a futile solution ,but equipping our young with the knowledge so that they can take care of themselves sexually and providing a safe space for those facing challenges in this area ,will solve most of the problems that arise from sex and sexuality even before they form. As they say, knowledge is power.