Ndalimpinga Iita WINDHOEK (Xinhua) --
On a Sunday afternoon, in a
far flung village in northern Namibia’s Omusati Region, Hileni
Kampangu sees off her two children to Sunday school. There and
then, she multi-tasks between breast-feeding a small baby and
tinkling a three-year-old girl.
are a handful. Being a young mother of four is no child’s
play,” Kampungu said as she juggles between giving attention
to the children.
greatest wish is not to have any more children. But this might
just be a wish, as exclusion from negotiating safer sex and
discussing family planning with her partner may shatter that,
is my fourth child, and by the look of things, it will not be
the last,” she told Xinhua on Sunday afternoon.
is one of the rural women finding it hard to negotiate safer
sexual practices with their partners, let alone family planning.
to 28-year-old Kampangu, she finds it hard to negotiate and
discuss family planning with her partner.
am not very comfortable openly speaking about sexual matters
with him. In addition, he rejects my suggestions to have no
longer bear children, reasoning that he needs to prove his
manhood, which he argues is determined by the number of
children he fathers,” she said.
shared that the community and society do not make things easy
is the mindset here. Many people in our community were raised
to believe that a woman should be submissive to a man at all
times and in all ways, which is seen as a sign of
obedience,” she said.
is not alone. Her younger neighbor, aged 25, courted by a
37-year-old man, finds herself in a similar situation. Ndemutya
Tutaleni, a mother of four at 25 too has a tale to tell.
we have attended the family planning session together, he
convinced me that the nurse is jealous of me because she is
not able to have more children,” said Tutaleni.
wish I could decide, but who will support me? My family also
believe that the more children the merrier. However, taking
care of four children all under the age of 10 is not easy,
given that I have an inconsistent income. My partner is not
very supportive with the children on a regular basis, yet he
boasts of having a soccer team. He has six other children
already,” she said on Sunday.
the Ministry of Health and Social Services and nonprofit
organisations’ efforts to decentralize health and sexual
health services such as condom distribution and contraceptives
to rural Namibia, Tutaleni said it’s hard to break away from
ministry distributes close to 25 million condoms annually at
identified outlets such as local shops, shebeens, clinics and
health centers in villages. The ministry spends over 20 million
Namibian dollars on purchasing condoms annually.
from the Ministry of Health and Social Services also shows that
a certain percentage in rural areas do utilize condoms as a
means of prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted
infections and unwanted pregnancies as well as family planning.
the face of rapid sensitization, education on radio and
campaigns by health officials, still, Tutaleni negotiating
rights for protected sex with her partner remains a taboo in
their domiciliary. “When I get back home, the decision lies
with my male partner because of traditional setting we grew up
in, where men are the decision makers. Unfortunately this trend
still holds in my area,” she said.
Tukwatha is an elderly woman in the area. She believes that
there is a need to break this cycle, starting by educating young
then again, young girls of nowadays do not listen. We tell
them to get an education and commit to it, yet they go astray.
When things go wrong, they want to reverse their situation. By
then the damage is already done,” Tukwatha added.
also need to change the traditional practices and the mindset
currently prevailing in our community. It needs to change, “
Sheila Tlou, the Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team
for Eastern and Southern Africa, said during a visit to Namibia
in April that to address challenges on sexual health amongst
young people, Eastern and Southern African countries can do more
to reach out to young people, through implementing comprehensive
sexuality education, inclusive of both boys and girls to enhance
the provision of services.
and Southern African countries have good facilities such as
health care centers in place, but we need to ensure that these
centers to translate into good indicators,” she added.
added that sexual health education amongst young people should
also actively involve leaders at grassroots level.
cultural leaders need to be part and parcel of the equation
and actively engaged in sexual education efforts targeted
towards young people,” she said.