Religion and Culture will not stop you from Unwanted Pregnancy and HIV

Jackson Chekweko

Sexuality education continues to be among the most controversial topics in Uganda’s legal and policy environment. This is because of the competing approaches in the policy debates that range from religion and cultural perspectives that inform our different backgrounds, to legal approaches

However, a combination of factors such as: limited access to sexuality education programmes leading to an increasing number of unwanted pregnancies among teenagers for instance, which stands at 25%, and HIV

Uganda’s restrictive policies on sexuality education pause a major hindrance and Uganda’s stressed sexuality education record is partly evident in her highest rates of unsafe abortion, high rates of teenage pregnancies, High rates of HIV among young people

“As a country, can we have sexual and reproductive health as part of the curriculum, its the only way we are going to avert harmful sexual behaviour and some of our religious are letting down the youths by denying them the right to Sexuality education” – Jackson Chekweko, Executive Director, Reproductive Health Uganda said during the Inter-University Dialogue

If we talk about sexuality education without considering how this concept is embedded in the perception of culture, religion and the legitimatized censoring of sexual and reproductive health information, and how much culture and religion are really offering to the young people?

A key question, therefore, what are some of the implications of these dynamics for sexuality, HIV, Vulnerability and talk about young people living with HIV and the ways in which their choices are constrained, their sexuality is forcibly shaped by censoring much needed sexual and reproductive health information or by prescribing sexuality should mean for them

At the just-concluded Inter-University dialogue on religion and culture, so many speakers expounded on what it means to make choices on behalf of young people

Hon. Jacob Opolot who was the guest of honour said; Women empowerment can never be reached if perpetrators of sexual violence are not punished and sexuality education is very important. Communities must be empowered with information that will enable them to make informed decisions

Jacob Opolot added that many young girls are dropping out of school because of the reasons like menstrual periods, sexual harassment and these factors deprive students their rights to education

Have so many reality questions lain at the heart of everyone, who is having sex? Who do we think is having sex? who isn’t having sex? who should have sex? anyways, who cares about these questions? there are also so many issues that remain unanswered

To some extent, culture and religion in particular shape attitudes towards sex and they have a wider rage sense of rich, diverse but it focuses on the way of life of a particular group. The question that I ask myself every day; how have interactions with religion and culture influenced on sexual practices in the country?

To be honest, the culture and religion in Uganda are still problematic in terms of human rights violations, and sometimes we have to change and be modernized, we have to listen to young people’s opinions and needs.

“As a young woman, I’m fighting so hard to protect myself from unwanted pregnancies and STIs that result from unsafe sexual intercourse and sex for a long time has been looked at as a secret but we need to confront sex and openly speak about it. We need to alter the narrative and give young people the right information.”- Innocent Nabaasa Programs Officer, SRHR Alliance Uganda said during a panel discussion on religion and culture

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Frank Byaruhanga is a human rights activist with years of experience in community dialogues, digital communication, advocacy and digital campaigns. He specializes in Media Relation Work, Management and Training with sufficient knowledge in Governance, Accountability, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Youth-led research, Content developer, Creative Activism, Social Media Management and documentary photography.

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