Sexual health put on the agenda

2017-07-19 06:00

Through unprotected sex, young people, especially girls, expose themselves to the risk of complications like cervical cancer.

They are also exposed to illnesses like sexually transmitted diseases, which can complicate their lives at a later stage.

This message was emphasised by different speakers who addressed a hall full of children at the Greenpoint High School on Tuesday, 11 July.

Led by Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas, the Department of Social Development and other stakeholders visited the area to observe World Population Day. They spoke out strongly on sexual and reproductive health.

Greenpoint is one of the poorest and least developed settlements in the Sol Plaatje Municipality.

The area is known for social problems like many homeless children, unemployed youth, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse and child neg­lect.

The provincial government and other stakeholders used the day to render a number of services and provide relevant information to young people about good decision-making.

Xolelwa Lute of the Department of Health elaborated on the role of a female condom.

She explained to the children that it is advisable to wear a female condom.

Lute urged the children to get tested whenever they felt like doing so and to not allow their anger or fear to deter them from making the right decision.

“Never be afraid to seek medical attention at your nearest institution, as no medical staff member has the right to judge you when you seek health care.

“They should not judge you, because they do not know your background. If you encounter any problems, come to us, we will help you.”

According to her, the right decision is to start taking their treatment at an early stage if they ever test positive for HIV.

Lucas urged the children to make education their priority and never use excuses for not going to school.

She further told the children to take pride in education, including their environment.

She lashed out at parents for not leading by example in an effort for their children to see the wrong things that they do.

“Your background should not determine your future. You cannot dirty your own environment and expect the municipality or government to clean up behind you,” said Lucas.

“Everyone has the responsibility to make a difference.”

Speaking on substance and alcohol abuse, Lucas said that there is no need to get intoxicated in order to have a good time, as you will be making the lives of others a misery.

She urged them to stay free of alcohol in order to abstain from sex, as alcohol is often the reason behind young people’s poor discipline.

“Wait until you are old enough and responsible to have children, as sometimes you might not even have bread to eat at home. Or worse, you will still be depending on your single parent, who might also be struggling to take care of you, then you bring another child into the world.

“Then you expect that same parent to take care of both of you, as if it is her responsibility.”

Lucas called on boys to stop the tendency of bragging about the number of girls they sleep with.

“Rather focus on building and growing yourself and the life of that girl you think you like in order to grow.

“That way you will make more responsible choices when you are mature.

“Do not even think about making excuses of your backgrounds, because there are people who come from alcoholic backgrounds and still make responsible choices.

“Let us build a strong South Africa that we can be proud of. You must start to build your own integrity so that we can be proud of who we pass the baton to.

“My message to young girls is: ‘Embrace the soft power of your femininity. There is strength in being a girl. Young girls have a power of their own. There is much potential in each one of you. As they say, you save a girl and you save a generation. You are the hope for our nation’s transformation. Make us proud.’ ”

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