Namibia: Parents Shy Away From Sex Talk

12 February 2020

Parents are too embarrassed to talk about sex with their children, while low levels of education, limited information and access to contraceptives, as well as traditional norms were some of the contributing factors to high rates of teenage pregnancy in Namibia.

The head of the Namibian office of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Djaffar Moussa-Elkadhum, said parents are reluctant to talk about sex with their children because they lack resources, are uncertain of what to say, or because they feel uncomfortable discussing the subject with them.

Elkadhum made the remarks while addressing journalists attending a capacity building workshop on early and unintended pregnancy between girls aged 12-19. The workshop is being hosted ahead of the national EUP campaign launch under the theme 'Let's Talk' by the ministry of education and partners this Friday.

"Early and unintended pregnancy is also a huge challenge for Namibia, with a pregnancy and childbearing prevalence of 19% among girls aged 15-19. Notably, 40% of the pregnancies in this age group were a result of non-consensual sex," Elkadhum said. He said said EUP impacts the education outcome of adolescents, especially girls.

He stated the Education Management Information System (EMIS) of 2017 reported 1 935 girls dropped out of school due to pregnancy. He elaborated that these adolescents who become pregnant face a host of challenges to remain in school and achieve educational milestones. Elkadhum emphasised the media plays a critical role in communicating correct and accurate facts on EUP. "This capacity building workshop therefore seeks to engage the media on EUP and strengthen the knowledge and understanding of this thematic issue for informed reportage," he stated.

UNESCO consultant Tariro Makanga-Chikumbirike also added the media plays an important role in preventing early pregnancies and ensuring those who fall pregnant are given a chance and continue with their education. "It is important we bring this to light; a lot of young people are not aware that once you fall pregnant, it is not end of the world - you can still continue with your education.

We see the media having a role to play in terms of ensuring all target audiences - from policy makers, parents, religious and traditional leaders and learners - demand that right they have. The media plays a critical role and as a result, we are building their capacity to understand this issue and help us disseminate the information of this campaign," said Makanga-Chikumbirike, adding the campaign is talking about pregnancy that happens at the right time.

UNESCO Namibia National Program Officer: HIV and Health Education Aina Heita-Kantewa said EUP in Namibia is high in rural areas with 20.3%, unlike in urban areas where it is at 16.7%. EUP is also high among those with low levels of education. Heita-Kantewa said adolescent girls from poor, rural communities and with low levels of education are mostly affected.

She said poverty is a driver of child marriage and transactional and intergenerational sex, which leads to unprotected sex and no contraception use. She added there is a high level of sexual activity for adolescent girls, yet a very low level of modern contraception use and strong abstinence messaging.

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