THE prevailing lockdown has seen more young girls engaging in s_xual activities with either older males and or boys of their ages, while a significant number of report s_xual abuse against girls were also reported since Zimbabwe commenced its lockdown measures in March this year.
Speaking during a virtual meeting which was hosted by Plan International Zimbabwe, Maxwell Mhlanga, Plan Int Zimbabwe’s (PIZ) S_xual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Manager said a survey they conducted in April indicated that more girls were indulging in s_x during the first phase of Zimbabwe’s lockdown period and it could lead to a spike in Early Unintended Pregnancies (EUPs), S_xually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and school dropouts post lockdown.
The online survey which was conducted by PIZ targeted adolescents aged 7 to 17 years and aimed to show results of s_xual activities amongst adolescent boys and girls aged 13 to 17 years. The sample was taken across the country’s 10 provinces and the sample size was 11, 674 boys and girls.
According to the Survey, 5109 girls against 3217 boys engaged in s_x during the period under review bringing the total to 8326. Of the 8326, 2186 girls engaged in safe s_x while 986 boys also engaged in safe s_x bringing the total to 3172 of an adolescent who had protected s_x during the period. However, 2361 girls said they had unprotected s_x during the period under review whereas 1933 boys also confessed to having unsafe s_x.
50% of the boys and girls who were interviewed of those 11, 674 had s_x by April this year. Of that 50%, 62% were girls. Only 38% of the adolescent girls engaged in safe s_x and of those who engaged in safe s_x, only 42% of the girls had safe s_x at least according to their reports. 6% of the girls who responded to that survey gave an anonymous answer on the question of s_xual activity.
Katswe Sisterhood Programs Officer, Otilia Chinyani however said their engagements in communities have revealed that more girls were indulging in s_xual activities during the lockdown due to poverty and also as a way of escaping from the fatigue and boredom associated with the lockdown.
“The issue of poverty also comes into play, poverty has always been a major driver to teenage pregnancies where you find that girls are engaging in intergenerational relationships just to get that extra money,” said Chinyani.