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Youth Day and Courage.

Youth day and courage on 16 June

Youth Day and Courage

June 16 marks a public holiday in South Africa celebrating Youth Day.

For those of us who are old enough to remember it marks the Youth uprising in 1976 in Soweto. We had such high hopes for a future democratic South Africa.

I used to be extremely political, known by certain sections of the community as a ‘klip gooier’. As I’ve aged my radical nature has changed to advocating for sexual and reproductive rights.

We have failed in our duty to educate our Youth.

We continue to be uncomfortable with sex and talking about it with our children an impossibility.

I recently saw a reel on one of the social media platforms where a young girl, probably not more than 6 was explaining the body parts of the female genitalia. She was holding a puppet and pointing at the parts and calling them by their real name.

I was fascinated and then horrified by the comments. If she had been explaining the parts of the eye, no one would have batted an eyelid!

By continuously denying education about sex and sexuality we are exacerbating the problems we have in the country, and we have many. Our statistics on teenage pregnancy and sexual abuse are horrifying and yet we continue to argue that the old ways are the best.

We are happy to talk about drugs and their dangers and nobody says talking about drugs will encourage our youth to go out and try drugs. But just talk about sex, then you see the outrage and the argument that children are curious and will now run out and try sex.

I’ve got news for you – they are trying it without us talking about it. They are trying sex without any knowledge or education, hence our statistics.

I work closely with several NPO’s who operate in this space. Dignity Dreams who manufacture and provide washable sanitary pads. As part of their work does education around menstrual and reproductive health.

Courage is heavily involved in child protection. It has the most fantastic way of dealing with bullying. The website has free resources to deal with self esteem and dealing with bullying.

In celebration of Youth Day, they have prepared and published a whole new module. You can download the workshop, presentation, lesson plan and workbook.

“The School Workshop Presentation and Lesson Plan introduces the importance of creating a personal vision for our future, whilst understanding our sexual and reproductive health rights.

It explains the process of puberty, consent, sex, birth control, conception and pregnancy, and encourages learners to define the actions they should take to achieve their personal vision.

It then encourages learners to identify the causes of unplanned or crisis pregnancy in their community and what can help prevent this.

It explains the options available to someone experiencing an unplanned or crisis pregnancy and then asks learner to identify the partners they will need to help them achieve their personal vision.

If you are a leader, teacher, parent or concerned citizen I urge you to take a look and download the kit.

I do know that sex is a difficult topic for many, but we have to start somewhere.

I’m not asking you to give your children a blow-by-blow account of your sexual experience. Start will the real words like, vulva, labia, clitoris, vagina, cervix, anus, penis, frenulum, glans, foreskin, shaft, prostate, masturbation, ejaculation, menstruation.

Why should everything in our bikini area be shameful? We don’t call our nose a smelly welly, so why should our genitals be called our machine gun, or vajayjay?

I firmly believe that the minute we use alternative words for our genitals we are adding a layer of shame and g-d knows we have enough shame to last us all a lifetime.

Your child should be educated, empowered and have the words and confidence to say no. To report abuse without fear, but also to know that sex is a wonderful thing to be enjoyed when the time is right, that there is no rush.

I always talk about the holy trinity –

Your head, heart and vagina must all say yes at the same time. That’s when you know that you are mature and emotionally ready to have sex.

Until then there’s no rush.


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