Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Poorest Households Women Encounter Sex Earlier,

As Prostitution, Pornography and Early Marriage Taken Root

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA (MB)- The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) that is designed to provide statistically sound and internationally comparable data for monitoring the situation of women and children in The Gambia, in its key findings The Gambia 2005-2006 which is the latest used for publication, has spelled out that women from the poorest households encounter sex earlier than those from the richest household indicating that Kauntaur, Central River Region North top the list. According to the MICS the first sexual encounter of women sex is earlier among women in Kauntaur and later in Banjul.

The key findings survey stated that education appears to play a pivotal role in educating women about sex noting that “Education appears to delay women’s exposure to sex and women from the poorest households seen to encounter sex at an early age than those from the richest households.
The MICS pointed out that 4 percent of women aged 15-19 had sex before aged 15-24, while 51 percent admitted that they had sex with men ten or more years older than them in the (12)twelve months preceding the survey. Condon use during sex with men other than husbands or live-in partners (non-marital, non-cohabiting) was assessed among women aged 15-24 testified that they had sex with such a partner in the previous year.
The MICS explained that about 16 percent of women aged 15-24 reported using a condom when they had sex with the high risk partner. Forty-four percent of women aged 15-24 with primary education said they used a condom during higher risk sex in the year before the MICS while 58 percent (aged 15-24) with secondary or more education acknowledged that they used a condom with such a partner. Knowledge of HIV transmission and Condom use, virtually all women interview, 99 percent have said that they heard of HIV/AIDS.
However, only 65 percent of women know of having one faithful uninfected sex partner, 82 percent know of using a condom every time and 77 percent know of abstaining from sex as a way of preventing HIV transmission. While 97 percent of women know at least one way, a low proportion of women that 3 percent do not know any of the three ways.
According to the MICS the percentage of women who knew all three ways was higher in the poorest category than in the richest category. The percentage of women knowing all the three ways of preventing HIV/AIDS transmission was lowest in the Kanifing and Mansakonko with 53 percent, followed by Banjul 56 percent.
According to the report, as quoted in the Draft Sexual Harassment Policy 2004, a study also conducted in Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in 2003 by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reveals that prostitution, pornography, early marriage and cross-generational sex that are sex between adolescent and adults have taken root in The Gambia “smiling coast of Africa”.
The Adolescent/Youth Study Report 2002 also indicated that sexual activity was prevalent among adolescent/youth in that 41.5 percent had experienced sexual relationship at least once. According to findings of a study also conducted on Early Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy by Gambia College and UNICEF in 2000, revealed that sexual relations between teachers and students on one hand, constitutes a problem for schools administrations, parents and the Ministry of Education.
Findings from the UNICEF 2003 report stated that, 64.2 percent of the sampled prostitutes below the age of 18 were either enrolled in the upper basic schools or had reached that level.
Further evidence from reports highlighted that impregnation of female students by teachers, fellow students or other outside of school is becoming rampant. Sometimes harassment involves peers, but teachers and other staff are also perpetrators. Male and female are both affected, but there is a significant gender gap, with girls and young women experiencing much higher levels of violence, reflecting broader gender inequalities in society.
The Adolescent/Youth Study Report 2002 went on to explain that about 15 percent of the sexually-active females have been pregnant at least once. Half of the pregnancies reported were unwanted and most occurred to young schoolgirls who had to leave school as a result. Many girls between 13-17 years of age, are sexually active, this leads to the prevalence of unwanted teenage pregnancies and to baby dumping. The incidence of illegal abortion and dropouts among schoolgirls can be attributed to unwanted and teenage pregnancies.
Adolescent fertility, the report revealed has been a growing problem with far-reaching social and economic consequences adding that these has been an upsurge in teenage pregnancies, compounding health risk and social-economic situation of girls and young women. It is a hard fact that some of our young girls engage in the sex trade and can be found in places like Westfield, the City Pub Serrekunda, and Suma Motel in Serrekunda etc, all because of urban population increased and to make money. Sexual harassment has been defined as unwanted, non-consensual sexual behavior, where one party is imposing sexual attention on another unwilling party. It also includes physical, verbal and non-verbal harassment.

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