Hivos Southern Africa

Southern Africa

Sexual Rights and Diversity

Child marriage disproportionately affects young girls, who are much more likely to be married as children than young boys. The latest international estimates indicate that worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children. Seventeen percent of them, or 125 million, live in Africa. Approximately 39 per cent of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are married before the age of 18 (Girls Not Brides 2015).

At age 15, Tanaka (not her real name) was forced into sex work in order to fend for herself. Now aged 17, Tanaka has been through what can be simply described as hell, something a child like her ought never to experience. She fell pregnant hardly a year after she started engaging in sex work, and her tales of violence at the hands of men are harrowing and heart rending.

Tanaka lost her baby a few months after giving birth, a memory which evoked tears in her eyes as she recounted the story recently.

Cervical cancer is a cancer that arise from the cervix. It is due to an abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body (the cervix is the lower, narrow part of the uterus or the womb). Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) which can be passed on through any type of sexual contact.

Hivos joins the rest of the world in commemorating International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, commemorated annually on 23 May 2017. Obstetric fistula is a hole between the vagina and rectum or bladder that is caused by prolonged obstructed labor in the absence of timely and adequate medical care, leaving a woman incontinent (lacking voluntary control) of urine or faeces or both.

The World Health Day commemorated annually on April 7 was this year themed:  Depression: Let’s Talk. For Africa, the theme was highly appropriate highlighting a pervasive problem that is largely shrouded in silence, especially among adolescents, and needs to be urgently brought out into the open to save lives.