The term Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) was not familiar to me until when I joined Stretchers Youth Organization and I got to learn about SRHR.
SRHR is actually about people having the right to have safe sex, enjoyable sex in life and to decide for themselves when and if to have children. It is actually like a roof which shelters a lot of issues that affect both men and women in their daily life like lack of access to health care services, early child and teenage pregnancy, unsafe abortion, unplanned and early pregnancies, child mortality, maternal deaths, domestic violence, HIV and STDs and rape among others.
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights mainly touches on four areas which consists of: Reproductive Health that actually ensures healthy reproductive system to men and women by accessing healthcare services, Reproductive Rights which consist of freedom and rights to control your sexual life like when to have a baby or not, Sexual Health which main concern is the mental, physical and social well-being of a person in terms of their sexuality in absence of sexual illness, Sexual Rights which consist of the ability to make decisions on your sexuality about your sexual privacy, sexual partner and sexual pleasure.
To me SRHR is very essential for the country because it will help and contribute a lot in reducing maternal and child mortality rates prevent unplanned pregnancies and abortions among teenagers and prevent the spread of HIV virus. By doing this you find that it will benefit the people a lot.
When people are healthy their productivity increases and this will boost their economic progress and the country’s too.
That’s why we owe it to ourselves to champion for SRHR and most importantly also mental health education in Kenya
To add flesh on this point and reasons of championing SRHR issues in our community as a young person through the empowerment gotten from Stretchers Youth Organization below is a heart wrenching story of a 12 year old girl.
My name is Fatma, I am 12 years old. And this is my story
I am a standard five pupil in a certain school in Mombasa County.
Did I tell you I live with my grandmother?
See, I am an orphan. I lost my parents last year. Life has been so unfair to me.
“You see Evans, I have a problem. Am in pain, real pain”
My grandmother usually leaves me at home to go and look for food at the market. I am a big girl now and nothing ever happened around here, really. Until it happened.
It was just like any other day. Grandma had left for the market when two bully men came in. I hadn’t seen them before. I just hoped they had come to ask for drinking water and would be on their way.
But they hadn’t come for water. And they didn’t leave either.
They started touching me here (her breasts). They were smiling. Smiling at me. Smiling as if what they were doing was natural. Smiling like they hadn’t had better chests to touch.
I thought they were playing. Like this was just a new game, I hadn’t known yet.
Bored of touching my chest, one of them pulled my pants down and took me inside.
He pulled his pants down too and hurriedly and without any warning started doing something bad to me.
The pain was terrible. It was nothing like I had ever felt before. It was aching. Unending. Unbearable. I felt like I was going to die. I let out a sharp scream. He grabbed my mouth and told me he would kill me. I believe he would. There was nothing this beast of a man was incapable of.
After what seemed like a life time. He was finally done.
It wasn’t over yet. His partner in crime had to have his time too.
Only then did they disappear into the woods.
I just wanted to die. I couldn’t even walk properly. I was bleeding profusely and in excruciating pain.
My grandmother would walk in and rush me to the hospital. The bleeding and the physical pain may have stopped, but the scar hasn’t healed yet. I can’t sleep at night without seeing them come in and squeeze their things between my tiny legs. Sometimes I just sit there and ask why me? What did I ever do to them? What did I ever do to be parent-less and unprotected at eleven years?
People in my village do not want to associate with me. They think I bring bad luck.
Life no longer has meaning to me. Yet, I have to stay on and fake smiles. I have to assure my grandmother that I am okay. Even when am not. I don’t want to make her sad. She’s been through a lot herself.
I am not telling you this story to feel bad for me. I am telling you to tell those cowards that they stole something very important to me. And even though there’s nothing I can do now, I don’t want other little girls to have to go through what I went through.
This is just a story from one young girl after going through SRHR empowerment decided to open up after a youth forum. And this indicates the need and calls up for continuous SRHR empowerment and mental health education for young people so as they get equipped with necessary psychological support which many of us don’t find and see as a problem facing young people.
By Evans Ouma.