COMMENT: Time to evaluate safety nets

30 Sep, 2022 - 00:09 0 Views
COMMENT: Time to evaluate safety nets


In our previous edition we carried an article on the world’s oldest profession whose tentacles have spread and in the process caught in their web under-age girls in Gokwe. We believe Gokwe just provided us a window through which we could look at the rising problem that cannot be peculiar to the centre.

This is a major problem and as the economic challenges bite across the country, many find themselves condemned to a life of trading their bodies to put food on the table.

What is particularly worrying to us is that under-15 girls are not only indulging in sex but doing it commercially and even, due to desperation and ignorance, doing it without any condoms if they feel the fee charged can cover the risk.

We risk losing a whole generation to sexually transmitted infections, chief among them HIV, and immorality that is slowly eating away our moral fabric. The story sounds familiar and it is almost the same for most families.

Parents and guardians fail to pay school fees for girl children and they are then enticed into the oldest profession to earn a living.  There are also orphaned children who have no one to turn to and find themselves exploited by relatives or even strangers.

Our major concern is that Government’s safety nets appear to have huge holes through which these teenagers slipped and found themselves at the mercy of their abusers.

It is about time the much touted Basic Education Assistance Module is evaluated and possibly reviewed since many of the children in the streets seem to have failed to get any assistance in the payment of fees, resulting in them turning to sex work.

Also, what assistance exists for orphans beyond the school years so that they can establish themselves in life without being exposed to sexual predators that would take advantage of their vulnerability?

It is quite easy at a glance to blame the victims of a dysfunctional system but we must not forget that these young people have many other needs that cannot be covered by BEAM, hence their failure to make it through school.

Also, the Government should make BEAM attractive by ensuring that fees for the children on the programme are paid, and on time.

Many deserving children are left out of the BEAM programme because school authorities will be trying to avoid problems related to collecting money to run their schools.

Also, it should be noted that nowadays schools prioritise foreign currency and those that pay in local currency, and late, seldom get much attention as their contribution cannot stand the test of inflation.

We feel that the boy child and girl child are affected similarly with the boy child ending up as herdboys, gold panners while some of the girls turn to domestic work, vending and prostitution.

We believe we need strong interventions from Government and other organisations to address the failures of current structures and save our children, and ultimately save our nation from the ravaging impact of HIV and Aids, especially now when the country was recording steady progress in pushing back infections. Policy makers, this one falls squarely upon your shoulders.

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