opinionBy Happy Chikwanha
We have come to the time of the year when Zimbabwe joins other countries in commemorating 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence. Now, you may be wondering what all this has to do with you as a teen and your health.
The answer is a lot. Most gender-based violence happens around the home and does not only happen to adults.
Even young children fall prey to this evil
and they suffer a lot of harm physically and emotionally.
There are many cases of domestic violence resulting in serious injuries and permanent disabilities.
Some kids have had their teeth knocked off, their bones broken, not to mention split lips and black eyes.
There are also the psychological effects because after the violence occurs, it is often the victim who faces embarrassment and ridicule from peers.
It is also important for us to note that violence is not just about beating up someone. Sexual assault is also part of this.
Many teens especially girls are subjected to rape which puts them at risk of contracting STIs, including HIV.
They can also get pregnant from these horrible encounters and suffer complications of being teen moms.
There are some parents and guardians who believe in corporal punishment for disciplining naughty kids.
As long as this is done in a proper way then it cannot be considered as abuse.
But the situation becomes different when a child is beaten all the time and is injured or even maimed.
Sometimes when people are angry they just strike whatever part of the body of their victim with anything without caring about the damage they are doing. Some children are kicked in the head with heavy boots.
Some parents and guardians take out their anger on their children even when the young people have not done anything wrong. Such children become emotionally damaged as they live in fear of being beaten all the time.
Youths are also violent towards each other. Social scientists believe that children who suffer physical and emotional violence become bullies and turn on those who are weaker than themselves.
The same is also true for children who watch a parent, usually the mother, being beaten. Some boys think that it is their right to beat up their girlfriends and their sisters.
But some victims eventually get tired of being abused and fight back. Some people hire gangs to avenge them.
Others get hold of weapons or wait until their tormentor is in a weak position. Some bullies have had boiling cooking oil thrown over them. So in the end when there is violence everyone loses.
It is our duty as the future leaders of tomorrow to protect our siblings, friends, peers and parents from violence.
Let us be the generation that believes in human dignity and health. Let us be the intelligent ones who know that it is discussion and negotiation that settles differences and not fists.
Guard your health and that of everyone else by joining the campaign against gender-based violence this year.
If you know a victim of violence, help to get assistance by reporting to the police or going to any one of the organisations that deal in such matters.
Till next week. Gina Tee out!