African youth have called for the decriminalising and de-stigmatisation of consensual sex between adolescents to enable them to access reproductive health easier.
Namibia Planned Parenthood Association (Nappa) board treasurer Lucia Iipumbu said this during a media address on the 5th Sexual Health Rights in Africa held earlier this year.
“We need to pay particular attention to the need to decriminilise and de-stigmatise the act of consensual sex between adolescents, removing moralistic perspectives in order to ensure that they are able to access information and services,” she said.
According to Nappa Country Director Sam Ntelamo, countries prescribe to different definitions for adolescence while most african country adhere to the African Youth Charter which reads that people between 10-21 are considered adolescence.
“The funny part of this is that there are different definitions of adolescents for others it is between 10-21. In Namibia there is that debate on who is and who is not. But these recommendations does not speak to adolescence below 16 years of age,” he urged.
In addition, child marriage has emerged as a significant link between child rights and HIV infections in young girls.
“We need to be clearer about our response to this issue and recognise the necessity to amplify the responses within the context of the existing sexual rights and health rights responses and draw on existing legislation on child protection.” Iipumbu said.
She also noted that the conference has identified the need for a comprehensive sexual education.
“Given that there is a strong movement advocating for evidence-based youth sexuality education and youth friendly services and that the tools to fill these needs exist and are available as well as increased political committment to delivery, it was agreed that there is a need to create space for all stakeholders to take part in this process and strengthen the partnerships particularly between health, education and youth sectors for a more coordinated response based on national and public health priorities,” she said.
Ipumbu also said the conference held over a week has highlighted the need for re-orientation of existing health services making it accessible to underserved youth to address their health and reproductive health needs.