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Youths Want Structures For Muslim Girls 

By Leocadia Bongben

CameroonPostline.com — African and Cameroonian youths are advocating for structures to cater for the sexuality of Muslim girls and generally to eliminate barriers to sexuality development.

Matsida Annie Marcelle, representative of the Cameroon Association for Family Welfare, CAMNAFAW, (Youth Action Movement) in a presentation on social representation of sexuality and HIV/AIDS among Muslim girls, following a study carried out last year at the Briquetteri and Messa neighbourhoods in Yaounde, says sexuality and HIV/AIDS are taboo among Muslim girls.

Making the presentation on the sidelines of the 6th African Conference on Sexual Health Rights at the Yaounde Conference Centre on February 4 organised by CAMNAFAW, Matsida said, “Sexuality is a taboo among Muslim girls in the community as only the married talk about sexuality and HIV/AIDS and those who are not married have no right to talk”. She regretted that the Muslim community is oblivious of the fact that a girl is supposed to know her genital organs and her body for better use in future in marriage and also know the male genital organ.

Matsida maintained that this perception is transferred to HIV/AIDS perceived as a curse form Allah (God) for persons with deviant behaviour, an indication that HIV/AIDS is also taboo.
Consequently, young girls are infected and marginalised with HIV/AIDS talked of as a slow poison and a family is cursed if a person dies and no one wants to marry into such a family.
It is against this backdrop that Matsida and the youths are advocating for structures such as health centres for the reproductive health of Muslim girls who culturally differ from others.

Lisette Emmanuel Ouaffo, another representative of Youth Action Movement of CAMNAFAW stressed that sexual education in Africa is still portraying lapses like who is responsible for providing sexual education to children; the school, parents or both. She identified barriers to sexual liberty of the African girl which people are not aware of; sexual characteristics that are not developed, leading to torture.

Girls who fill their breast wears or triple shorts in their trousers cannot freely mix with others and men, she said. On the other hand, some develop sexual characteristics early, such as painful breasts and cannot mix with their age mates in games. Ouaffo expressed the need to know and talk about the consequences and solutions to such cases. Though these cases are minimal, they should not be ignored as they also have sexual rights, Ouaffo stated.

She argued that youths should not marginalise or tag them because they feel marginalised and urged NGOs to set up programmes for them. Dr. Ademola Olajide, United Nations Population Fund representative in Namibia, underscored the importance of investing in youths for them to be used in a positive way by providing them with the capacities to be able to contribute to the economy.

He lamented that there are girls who do not even know they could get pregnant and boys who are unaware of the future effects. To Olojide, when young people are empowered with information and services, they are able to take positive decisions and contribute to the economy. “In their twenties, in the universities, girls who are sexually active and do not want pregnancy or exposed to infections have the right to services and information,” he emphasized.

First published in The Post print edition no 01503

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