Sex, Consent and Teenagers
Sex education is not a strong point for African Parents, Many of us, young adults still find it difficult to discuss relationship problems with our parents, even very serious problems, can’t be discussed with our parents.
I once heard of a young girl, a teenager who was raped and when she told her mother about it, her mother used this as a form of chastisement, calling her a prostitute whenever she was in the company of men, she even went as far as telling neighbours what happened who in turn laughed at this young girl, in the neighbourhood.
In her mother’s mind, this would make her daughter stay clear of men, to avoid her being raped again.
Now, everything is wrong with this story, we could talk about victim blaming, stigmatization and the trauma the girl who was raped would need years of therapy to overcome but, what I want us to talk about here, is the fact that African parents don’t listen and they don’t talk. They mostly yell and bark orders which must be followed, this is they way they were brought up and this is the way the only way they know to impact discipline.
Before I go further, let me tell you tell you another short story. There is this young boy, not more than six years old, he usually runs errands for his mum, you know those little errands children are always eager to do. One day, I saw him crying just in front of his house, his mother was shouting at him, there was also a middle aged man,yelling at the boy. Turned out, he was supposed to go and buy something for his mother, but he was afraid to go, now instead finding out why he was afraid, they were both shouting at him, telling him to go, it was not his first time going, so why was he crying, the boy said he saw a snake on the path, he normally passes.
Instead of calmly explaining to the little boy that there was no snake on the path or even walking over there with him, to show him there was nothing to fear, he was chased there with a cane.
So, they used the fear of him get beat up, to chase away the fear he had for the snake, at the end of the day fear remains. The kind of fear that was left in him, is the worst kind of fear, the fear of your own parents. A lot African parents love this kind of fear because to them it was puts their children in check.
God forbid what happened leaves an eternal impact on the child because if it does, he would have a lot of fears that he will not be able to talk to his parents about or even anybody, he would keep things bottled up, he would put up a farce image of bravery and he would slowly develop that toxic masculinity that the society loves.
You are probably wondering what this has got to do with the topic, Sex, Consent and Teenagers. The first people who are supposed to teach us about consent are our parents, our first knowledge of sex should come from our parents. But, just like the boy who was afraid, if you mistakenly as a teenager, especially as a girl mention the word boyfriend to your parents, then you know you have entered a big pot of sour soup. They will use the fear of being pregnant and being ridiculed by the society to stop you from becoming close to the other sex. It is an order from them to you not to let boys touch you.
They won’t sit you down and explain safe sex to you, or contraceptives or even consent, just don’t go near boys and if as a teenager you know about these things already, then to them you have become wayward.
Now, just like the girl in the first story, she was told not to let boys touch her, but she wasn’t told that some boys would try to touch even when she says no. She wasn’t even taught what “touch you means.” she would just have to pick that up by herself.
The intention of our parents are good but mostly the process and the outcomes are terrible. A lot teenagers who have been sexually abused did not even know they could say no, some knew in their minds that what was happening to them was wrong but lacked the courage say no.
These girls learned the hard way that they could say no, when it could have been ingrained to them from childhood that their bodies belong to them and them only and they have every right to say no, and to talk about things their
What are we teaching young ones? That as a young girl aspire to be desired by a man, learn how to cook for him, learn how to sacrifice for him, learn how to obey him, understand that what is your is his, give your children to him, respect him and basically live for him. A lot of young girls who have been raped felt it was the man’s right to do so, because they have been trained from birth to give everything to men, including their bodies.
Schools and Parents have a long way to go in re-shaping the society, we need to have more conversations and less punishments. We need to teach boys to respect women’s bodies, we need to ingrain the concept of consent into both boys and girls let them know once they hear NO it means NO, no matter how it is being said.
We need to let them know that it is wrong to touch people inappropriately and they shouldn’t let people touch them inappropriately. And if it happens that they are molested or touched, listen them, believe them first before any other person, discuss sex with them so they don’t learn it in a traumatic way and most importantly, TEACH GIRLS THE SAME THING YOU TEACH BOYS.