Students and Youth Working on Reproductive Health Action Team (SAYWHAT) calls for prioritisation of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in schools to equip young people with skills to make informed decisions in life. The untimely death of a young man from Glendale provides sufficient evidence that there is need to upscale sexuality education to young people and intentionally target the boy child in our programing.
According to media reports, Crispen Magwaza died under mysterious circumstances after engaging in sexual intercourse with a sex worker and failed to pay for the services rendered. As reported by the media, a family member said Crispen developed urinary problems leading to his unfortunate death.
If the social media reports are true, SAYWHAT expresses its deep concern over this unfortunate incident as it clearly portrays a yawning gap in addressing young people’s sexual and reproductive health issues. The incident saves to remind us that there are deep rooted socio-cultural aspects of young people’s sexuality that must be addressed by not only engaging the young people but also community involvement.
SAYWHAT further acknowledges the need for all stakeholders to step up efforts in its programing by equally putting deliberate focus on the boy child. The notion that boys are less vulnerable must be challenged and programs must take heed of circumstances like this to refine approaches and offer comprehensive support to both girls and boys.
As an organisation, we will continue strengthening our male engagement processes which are being championed through the Mugota Young Men’s forum. This chapter was created solely to create a space where young men can articulate their sexual and reproductive health issues, challenge negative social beliefs and position young men as resourceful advocates in the gender discourse and addressing reproductive health issues in the country.
Of particular importance is the need to strengthen comprehensive sexuality education in schools. As we advocate for this, we emphasise on community based sexuality education as well, including parent to child communication to improve young people’s social wellbeing. There is documented evidence that comprehensive sexuality education can equip children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will empower them to realize their health, well-being and dignity, develop respectful social and sexual relationships and ensure the protection of their rights throughout their lives.
With the right skills and information, Crispen would have avoided engaging in risky sexual activity and saved his life. Young people can only acquire such skills if given the right information and provided with sufficient parental guidance. Such must be emphasised to avoid a similar tragedy befalling another young person.
In our programing experience, we have noted with concern that young people continue to engage in risky sexual behaviour. This is a challenge to young people to exercise responsible sexual behaviours. It is also a call for the government and civil society organisation to prioritise comprehensive sexuality education, particularly in schools including integrating sexuality education in the school curriculum.
Young people’s sexual and reproductive health matter. We must commit to protect the lives of young people.
To Crispen, an upcoming footballer, we say may your soul rest in peace. Your death has left a permanent scar that will forever be hard to erase. Our sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the Magwaza family.