Story by Justin Mahlahla
Some local organisations that promote positive musculinity and the emancipation of the boychild have petitioned Parliament to consider a review of the country’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) framework.
The organisations include the Iron Sharpens Iron (ISI), Men of Valour Purpose and Vision (MVPV) and the Sexual Morality Internship for Life Empowerment (SMILE) Foundation.
The petition, gleaned by the ZBC News, highlights specific areas pertaining the Age of Consent, which they argue will continue to erode Zimbabwean family building rich traditional and moral beliefs and practices by propagating unnecessary curiosity within minors.
“The age of consent to sexual relations is essentially an age of consent to sex outside of marriage – It aids culturalisation of sex outside of marriage as of the same weight as sex within marriage; It sets a tone of anticipation to have sexual relations by the gazetted age, which anticipation to have sex, children will not wait to reach, thus increasing children engaging in sex from an early age so increasing the related challenges like teenage and even below teenage parenting.”
“With sex outside of marriage recognised as permissible, the anticipation to sex given by the age of consent, coupled with a culture with vast pornography, prostitution being recognised as a legal profession, virginity ridiculed, wide availability of contraception, children willing engage in sexual relations with peers, many willingly choose to get into child prostitution (sexual exploitation) and children are much more vulnerable to sexual abuse,” the petitioners said.
“This anticipation to fornicate by the age of 18, is destroying the next generation of families as just graduated from childhood young adults in tertiary institutions blindly follow the crowd into causal sexual relations outside of marriage,” they added.
The grouping also said, “This SRHR framework has progressively brought disastrous chaotic social
developments, greatly fuelling the breakdown of the family unit as the framework normalised sex outside of marriage: In its fight against the nature of human sexuality, SRHR failed to separate sex and babies, so increasing unwanted pregnancies & teenage pregnancies – thus the push to legalise abortion. Other social vices emanating from the breakdown of the family unit, such as the drug abuse pandemic, gender-based violence, crime, child abuse and sexual immorality itself continue to spiral out of control bringing a cyclone of social destruction.
“It disregards the best interest of the child, even disregarding the right to life of the unborn child; ignoring the fact that over 80% of abortions are had by people in the unmarried state and of the remaining married people who abort, many abort because the pregnancy would be from an adulterous affair.”
While acknowledging the role of the Criminal Code in differentiating marriage and sex by the provision of an Age of Consent to sex, the petitioners opine that the law inadvertently approves sexual relations outside of marriage from the age of 18.
They contend that while it is a scientific fact that a sexual relation within the marriage culture builds families and brings societal peace and order, irrespective of age, a sexual relation outside of marriage breaks the family unit and abounds with heartbreaks, increased co-habitation, divorce etc, which leave children vulnerable to abuse, increasing substance abuse and crime.
The organisations are therefore pleading with the Parliament of Zimbabwe to exercise its constitutional role and address the issues they raised in order to ensure the strengthening of the family unit.
They are advocating for a review of relevant legislation on the rights of children in order to enhance their protection and promote the moral values of the nation.