Sexual abstinence — Is it practical in today's society?

HARARE - “True love waits”, “don’t do a thing without a ring” and “abstinence is priceless,” are catchy slogans that youths are told to follow to prevent unwanted pregnancies and HIV.

But is the issue of abstinence practical or delusional?

Parents would love to think that their children will not encounter a situation where they would choose sex over abstinence, but the truth is, it is happening.

Debates on whether to teach comprehensive sex education and abstinence to today’s youth are ongoing.

Youth organisations believe that teaching youths abstinence will leave them informed but ill-prepared for the real world.

Yet the Health and Child Care ministry advocates for abstinence.

Evernice Munado, Female Students Network’s programmes officer, said abstinence was not practical.

“Things are moving too fast and a lot of these youths are having sex at a very tender age,” Munado said.

“We have been witnessing female students getting sexually transmitted diseases and some being infected with HIV.

“Women and girls need to know what to do in the event that their main plan has failed, there needs to be a plan B,” she said.

“Abstinence is not practical and measures need to be put in place to teach comprehensive sex education in schools in order to prevent the youth from being infected and unplanned pregnancies.”

David Chidende, a programmes officer with Youth Information and Education for Behaviour Change, said  there was need for authorities to teach their children how to be responsible.

“Teaching comprehensive sex education and abstinence is a more practical and realistic way of tackling problems faced by the youth of today,” he said.

“Authorities need to demystify sex and teach children to be more responsible when faced with such issues.”

Chidende said youths need to be able to freely access information of sexual and reproductive health rights, whereas many supporters of abstinence-based approach to sex education also believe that it is morally wrong for people to have sex before they are married.

According to research, the main difference between abstinence and comprehensive sex education approaches is that the latter does not teach young people that they should abstain from sex until they are married.

Comprehensive sexual education does explain to the young people the potential benefits of delaying sexual activity until they are emotionally and physically ready.

It is an approach that ensures that they are taught how to protect themselves from infections and pregnancy, according to research.

Youth organisations believe that sex education plays an important role in HIV prevention.

Young people face unprecedented challenges among them STIs and HIV, high levels of teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortions and limited access to sexual and reproductive health rights.

The 2010/11 Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey reported a high rate of teenage pregnancies (21 percent), for the 15 to 19 years age group.

The adolescents fertility rate is higher in rural areas (120 per 1000 girls) than in urban (70 per 1000 girls) areas.

HIV prevalence is almost three times higher among women aged 15 to 24 (11 percent) than among men of the same age (4,2 percent) and is fuelled by inter-generational sex, according to UN agency, UNFPA.

Comments (9)

that lady who is saying abstinance is not practical is very wrong and misleading people. are u telling me that there are no virgins today who are 20yrs or older?parents should take the responsibility to educate their children about moral issues.

cosmas - 4 October 2013

Sexual abstinence is very possible. Sex is glamorised by our media and we adults do not help by the behaviour we display for the young. We grew up without sex even in Mbare. As late as 1974 it was disgraceful to impregnate. However I am in support of sex education. Parents should observe what is happening to the little girls and boys in late primary and in secondary schools, it is shocking. Talking about this issue is really important.

Mavara Azarevhu - 4 October 2013

She did not say it is impossible but that it is impractical to insist on abstinence.Yes, there are virgins around but it is matter of numbers. Of a pool of randomly selected 100 girls, how many of them would be virgins? I dont want to even guess

Shodza - 4 October 2013

The truth of the matter is you hardly see a virgin at the age of 20years now. Let us face the reality so that the right approch to the problem is crafted. Youths are engaging in sexual activities ate very tender ages and there is is need of collective effort from all angles to assist so that we start to have virgins at the age of around 20years.

chanies - 4 October 2013

whether there are zero virgins in Zimbabwe or not abstinence is still VERY PRACTICAL, it is only a matter of morality and a condom can never substitute that. Some of these people we give space to talk are actualy at work so the more condoms we use the more they are paid and the more we start talking about girl rights and soon they will be lobbing for incentives for all single mothers. Next in line, legalize mbanje.

kitsi - 4 October 2013

most of the time our children are even being spoiled by most sextual programmes on TV. I thing these programmes shouldn't be aired during the afternoon especially music

robinsen - 4 October 2013

I know virgins into their thirties, forties and later. 'you just do not know them and that being so does not make it impracticable to be a virgin at as late an age as you please.

Mau - 4 October 2013

I know virgins into their thirties, forties and later. 'you just do not know them and that being so does not make it impracticable to be a virgin at as late an age as you please.

Mau - 4 October 2013

The problem is people have disregarded God's laws and prefer to do their own things. people create problems for themselves and then try to find the solutions. they have created the problem in the first place by various things that have been allowed, like improper and immodest clothes for women like mini-skirts, see throughs, tight clothes, etc and then the TV programs, films and adverts that are full of sexually suggestive pictures and messages. all these keep the issue of sex high in the minds of men and the next thing everyone is looking for sex at the earliest opportunity. we should try to teach children God's moral principles and to be God-fearing to improve the chances of abstinence. teaching them alternatives to abstinence like pregnancy prevention pills and condoms and telling them that they can have sex when they are ready for it mentally and physically just defeats the message of abstinence. these should only be remedies for those who don't have regard for God's principles which requires that sex be for married people.

Norbert - 5 October 2013

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