Windhoek-For the first time in the history of the National Assembly of Seychelles, a 13-year-old Seychellois child addressed lawmakers on World Children’s Day on a historic Monday in the tropical paradise.
In an impassioned address, the child, Shayane Hoareau, spoke about the challenges, including those related to sexual reproductive health rights that children face growing up in the picturesque island country.
Hoareau said children in Seychelles are involved in sexual intercourse from a very young age and with one or more partners. “The youngest to fall pregnant was aged 10. However, the law does not allow a child to consent to sex before the age of 15. The law prevents access to contraceptives for such children. They have to wait until the age of 18. How many young mothers should be there before the law is revised?,” she said.
She expressed concern over children easily accessing alcohol, cigarettes, as well as other drugs. “Before we even reach the age of maturity, at least 14 percent of children between the ages 11 to 16 have tried some kind of substance,” said Hoareau. Some children have been exposed to drugs even while in their mothers’ wombs, she said.
“Even in the family, children grow up on their own. Parents are busy. Parents work. Parents have separated.
Children suffer. The number of suicide attempts amongst children continues to increase,” said Hoareau, who also urged parliamentarians to consider ideas of children, as they may solve some problems, even those created by adults.
“Continue to treat us with respect and dignity, so that we can also grow up with those same values. Yes, we know that having rights also comes with responsibility. We have our part to play. Parents also have theirs. All leaders of this country have a role to play,” she said.