Condom or No Condom: Is Abstinence Still Relevant?

A Condoms booth in the famous Migina spot opposite Amahoro Stadium in Gasabo district.

Pressure is mounting on Rwandan parents to surrender and join the club of some Western cultures which liberalize the use of condoms for anyone, including teenagers, at home or school.

The school of thought which, some government officials, members of civil society and educators have joined suggests that, the notion of abstinence from sex has become useless.

Their argument advises that parents should choose between saving their Children or sticking to traditional habits where talking about sex is considered a taboo.

A number of parents have already joined the club amidst an increasing debate where modernity, traditional and religion have failed to get a common ground on sexual education and conduct.

I buy condoms for my children

Speaking to KT Press, some parents said that they are no longer able to control the move of their children and the education they get in regard to sexual life, “because they learn from not only peers but also social media”.

Thus, they can any time get involved into sexual intercourse and parents may know it when they have already conceived or suffered sexual transmitted diseases (STDs).

Solange Ayanone, a mother of four including two girls, has discovered that policing her children is not an effective approach.

“Due to biological transformation forces especially at puberty period, children may find it difficult to abstain from sex. It is very important for parents to advise them to use a condom which will save them early and unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs),” Ayanone said.

“You better advise them to use a condom instead of isolating them after they have conceived.”

Ayanone not only advises her children but also takes action.

“I buy condoms and place them in my room where they can access them but I don’t tell them anything. The following morning, I realize that they come and pick them,” she said.

However, when she realizes that they use them, Ayanone convenes her children and tell them that; “God hates sins.”

“You cannot be held hostage of Rwandan culture when life of your children is at stake,” Ayanone asserts.

Packing School Books and Condoms

Some advocates support that, condoms should even be placed in high schools at an accessible place where students can pick them when they have a desire to have sex.

“We have tried to control teenagers from early sex by abstinence lessons in vain. I think the government should provide condoms to schools if we are to ensure better future for our generation,” said Fulgence Kwizera, Head Master of Groupe Scolaire Nyabisindu in Muhanga district.

According to Father Innocent Akimana, the Headmaster of St. Joseph secondary school – Kabgayi in Muhanga district, the matter of students accessing condoms is a disgrace.

“As a priest, I consider that exposing condoms to children is evil and contrary to our culture and values,” he said.

Emma Claudine Ntirenganya, a Rwandan journalist and feminist told KT Press that Social media is driving everything including sex, so you cannot easily convince your child to not have sex.

Best way to keep them safe, is, at least, to encourage them to use condom, she says.

“They secretly watch porn movies in a way their parents can’t know. Educating them on using condoms would be the solution because abstinence would be difficult for them,” Ntirenganya said.

As for the Ministry of Health, it is very important to introduce the youth to condom use as an important method to protect them from STDs and early/undesired pregnancies.

“Children don’t ask permission to be involved into sexual intercourse. With this challenge, they should be taught how to use condoms, walk with them, live with them and use them in case they fail to abstain,” Diane Gashumba, Minister of Health told KT Radio – a sister Radio station of KT Press.

“People are created different, some can abstain while others can’t, and condoms should be there for emergency,” Kelly Ntirushwa, a student in Kicukiro Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) – IPRC Kigali told KT Press.




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