First Lady Monica Geingos is worried about teenage girls who seem more concerned about falling pregnant and less so about contracting HIV-AIDS, a disease for which there is no known cure.
At an event organised by the Be Free Campaign at Ongwediva in Oshana Region on Sunday, Geingos said Namibia has reduced its HIV infection rate by more than 50 percent in the past ten years, but the HIV infection rate is on the increase again, specifically among people between the age of 16 to 24 years.
Geingos said there is a need for young girls to stand up for their rights, and to uphold their personal dignity, self-respect and identity to protect themselves from HIV-AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
“Young boys between the ages of 16 to 24 have lower HIV infection rates than young girls of 16 to 24. What does this mean? It says of the HIV infection rate of the girls that they are getting HIV from older men.”
The second problem is that some people are born with HIV and were not informed of their status, so in their first sexual intercourse they do not use protection, she noted.
A lack of confidence among girls may also lead them to engaging in unprotected sex with older men who limit their freedom of expression during sexual intercourse. This often results in unwanted teenage pregnancy, coupled with concomitant financial difficulties as well physical and emotional strain.
Geingos advised them to be on the lookout for men who are only interested in taking them to bed. She says the high rate of teenage pregnancy in the country – which some blame on poverty – is more worrisome today than 20 years ago.
Geingos was also concerned about young girls and boys who are becoming mothers and fathers at a tender age with little experience or knowledge of parental skills.
“A broken child becomes a broken adult and a broken adult raises a broken child,” she said, adding that when she sees a 17-year-old with a baby – the mother herself in need of guidance and support – she worries that the very young mother is not in a position to raise a child and provide the child with the necessities of life.
Parents and young people at the event also contributed to the debate, where both parents and children were urged to talk openly about sexuality, to build trusting relationships and maintain confidentiality.