Day of the African Child
Students and Youth Working on reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT) joins the rest of Africa in celebrating the day of the African child – June 16. The Day of the African Child has been celebrated on since 1991. It honours the children who were massacred in Soweto, South Africa for protesting against the injustices of the apartheid era in 1976. This year the day is commemorated under the theme Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development. The theme addresses issues of inclusivity of the African child, making sure that no child is left behind for development and growth.
According to the Oxford dictionary online, it defines a child as a young human being below the age of puberty or below the legal age of majority. This might translate to mean that a child is someone who is below the age of 18years in the Zimbabwean context. However, in that age group, the law of Zimbabwe allows adolescence above the age of 16 years to enjoy their sexual freedom. It is sad to note that the rate of HIV prevalence is high among young people than any other group. Sexual and reproductive health education for young people in Africa and across the world is an area of concern because of increased cases of child sexual abuse, early child marriages, and harmful cultural practices among other things. Does the African child fully enjoy her Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights? When are we to collectively fully implement the Comprehensive Sexuality Eductaion (CSE|))
Africa is one among other continents which has practices that are not friendly to the SRHR of young people and girls are usually the most affected. Cases of forced marriages to young girls is a very common practice which is a form of Gender Based violence. The African child especially the girl child had been a victim of different forms of Gender Based Violence for a long time. A lot of girls from marginalised societies are forced into marriages by various factors. . The victims of early child marriages are at risk when it comes to their sexual and reproductive health rights.
This year’s theme Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development is thought provoking. Every African child is equally important and this speaks to issues of gender equality and equity. This has everything to do with giving the African children equal opportunities in education, social responsibilities, among other things. The children should equally be treated on issues concerning their sexuality and reproductive health.