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Physical intimacy remains a tricky issue to discuss when you have a teenage daughter. Most times, parents and guardians wait until something prompts them to discuss intimacy. This should not be the case, we often wonder, what is the appropriate age to start discussing this topic with our daughter? Specialists say it is never too early to start the discussion, I say do not wait until it is too late.

While doing my daily rounds, I came across this question on Troubleshooter, an advice column that appears in the Japan News, and I felt it would be right to share this with parents, who may have been in this situation or find themselves edging towards the same.

The question reads: ‘I saw my teenage daughter in bed with her boyfriend, what should I do?’

I’m a company employee in my 40s with a daughter who’s a first-year student at a college-oriented high school. I saw her in her room in bed with her boyfriend.

Her boyfriend is in the same class as her, and they’ve been dating for half a year. He comes to our house several times a month.

When I happened to be passing by her bedroom, the door wasn’t completely closed so I saw the two of them through the gap. It was all so sudden that I didn’t know what to do, so I pretended like I hadn’t seen anything. I haven’t told my wife about it.

He is an honor student with top marks in his year, and he hopes to become a doctor. He always greets us properly and lives with his mother since his father died. Seeing him work so hard in such a situation reminds me of myself in my younger days, and I really want to support such a good kid. That is precisely why I am so confused about what to do.

Should I tell my daughter and wife what I witnessed? -R

And here is the response, from Masami Ohinata, a professor of developmental psychology at Keisen University’s graduate school in Tokyo.

Dear Mr. R:

I’m sure what you saw would’ve been a shock for any father of a daughter.

Physical intimacy is not something to find embarrassing, and it is a fundamental part of living, but it’s hard for parents to speak frankly to their children about something like this.

However, I think in this case you need to talk to the two teenagers as soon as possible. I know that your daughter and this boy are wonderful kids, but their ability to make sound decisions is still immature, and they are in adolescence where their interest in physical intimacy is still budding.

Why not start off by telling them you hope they will carefully cultivate their relationship? Tell them calmly but firmly that even though a teenage girl and boy might have intimacy if they’re in the same room with the door closed, it’s only natural for a father to worry about his daughter and the future of her and her boyfriend.

If you condemn them and keep an overly watchful eye on them, they will probably just hide what they’re doing even more and see each other outside your home. Instead, I think you should tell them that you welcome them into your home and hope to have some nice conversations over tea.

I think if you talk to them like this, this boy without a father may see you as a possible replacement father figure in his life. -Masami Ohinata, professor

We should all learn from this, if you have a teenage daughter or ward, whom you have trusted enough to allow visits from her boyfriends, then you should trust them enough to engage them in a discussion about intimacy issues and its effects.

Growing up with several aunts, I had my fair share of questions. My mum was super busy, so I was lucky to be surrounded by these great ladies who helped me through many awkward moments. Every teenage girl has a few questions brewing in her mind. It could be about body changes during puberty, intimacy, peer pressure, pimples, fashion, homework or boys.

There is no clear-cut answers to some of the questions that may arise; however, we encourage parents and guardians to have enough information to help their ward through these moments. This will also help you raise a well balanced teenager.

Kaz Cooke is an Australian author, cartoonist, and broadcaster, who has written several bestselling advice books for girls and women. In this edition, we are poised to learn from her wealth of experience as she reveals essential information you should give your daughter to help you both survive.

  • The truth about spots

Tell your daughter that spots or blackheads are not caused by these things: greasy food; not exfoliating; not washing enough or properly; not drinking enough water; germs on the skin; chocolate; bad karma.

Spots and blackheads are caused by blockages caused by sebum, which you often have much more of when you’re a teenager, because of certain hormone misbehavior. Sebum blocks the pores from underneath, and then bacteria or inflammation causes the spot.

Good spot creams take a few weeks to work because they stop new ones from forming, so she has to be patient. She should ask her doctor or pharmacist about which ones might work for her.

  • Body changes are natural

Don’t say to your daughter: “you’re getting fat”, “that’s a worry, you’ve gone up a size”, or “you can’t fit into that uniform anymore”. She is supposed to be growing and going up sizes in her teenage years – her skeleton doubles in size during these years, for a start.

Always say clothes are too small – don’t make it seem that she is too big. Frame any comment about bodies in terms of health and what she can do with her body (run, play sport, dance, and walk up stairs without puffing.) Tell her sizes are all mixed up depending on the brand. If you’re a woman, explain that in your wardrobe you have different label sizes on your clothes but they all fit you.

Talk with your girl about things she can say when somebody comments on her body shape and size or is mean and insulting to her. Responses could include: “Go away, you’re boring me”; “I’m the right shape for me”; “Mind your own body image”; “Oh, get a grip”; “Who made you the Body Police?”; “Don’t worry about me changing my size – can you change your attitude?”

Bullies, and even siblings and other relatives, will often use mean words like “fat” or draw attention to new breasts and other changes. Girls who filled in the survey for my book, Girl Stuff, told me they could remember, even years later, the comment that set them on the road to an eating disorder.

  • Alcohol should be taken seriously

New research shows that girls who are given alcohol before the age of 18 by their parents are more likely to develop a drinking problem. Explain to her that alcohol has a stronger effect on the teenage brain because her brain is still forming properly. This doesn’t make her more “stupid” than adults (after all, many grown-ups with “finished” brains make bad decisions); it just means she needs to be smarter than the people who don’t realize that their binge drinking could lead to embarrassment and, in severe cases, brain damage.

So many girls told me (even though I didn’t even ask this question) that they regretted their first sexual experience because it happened when they were drunk and out of control, and instead of being a moving experience they chose to have, it was a horrible experience that they can’t even remember properly. If you possibly can, make sure you pick up your daughter from parties and other events so you can assess her state. Lots of girls sleep at their friends’ place where the supervision may not be the same as at home.

  • Talk openly about family problems

If you’re in a family that is separating, it can be a turbulent time in which a teenager’s questions and feelings are accidentally overlooked. I consulted a few experts about the ways families can keep up communication, and there are also some useful websites. Teens can try sites such as divorceaid.co.uk (click on teens) and itsnotyourfault.org.

  • It is OK to say no to intimacy

Have a talk with your daughter that allows the possibility that she has gone further than she wanted to in terms of intimacy. Reassure her that she can always “go backward”. There are lots of things she can do and say to make herself feel better about this. Make her understand that she still gets to say no to everything she wants to even though she may have said yes in the past, or have been pressured into something.

Be aware that if your teenager is going out with an older partner, the older he is, the more likely he will want intimacy, expect it, and even have picked up a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Obviously, you don’t want to paint him as a sex-crazed predator, as this may make her more protective of him. Some parents will immediately forbid contact, while others will urge the use of condoms.

  • There’s nothing wrong with body hair

Though your daughter will hear a lot about needing to take off all her body hair, from magazines, websites and friends, you can help counter this. Explain that it’s partly because companies that sell hair removal products spend millions on advertisements and influence magazine and website editors to say it’s a good idea. One product in the USA is aimed at 10- to 13-year-olds.

You can let her know that even though people talk about it, only a minority of girls and women remove all their pubic hair. Some of the possible problems she can expect to get if she does remove her pubic hair include: pain from waxing; cuts from shaving; sore rashes and other skin conditions; uncomfortable itching as it grows back; ingrown hairs; spending too much money as she can’t really do it herself in such an awkward place; the embarrassment of a stranger looking at her private parts up close; and a weird bald look that makes her seem like a little girl.

  • Helping others will help you

One of the great things about girls is they’re often keen to do charity or other community work. See if there’s an organization that you can join together or one that she can be involved in with her friends. This could be environmental or political, or something to work towards as a gap year later on. It’s a cliché but it’s true: busy people are less likely to get into trouble. It also means there’s something you can praise her for, which she will really appreciate.

  • Life doesn’t always go to plan

Make sure your daughter knows that you understand the occasional necessity for a Plan B, C, or even further down the alphabet. If she doesn’t pass the exam or doesn’t make the team, help her with backup ideas that make life seem like a series of choices rather than just a matter of “making it” or “failing”. Tell her life is all about choices and changes.

  • How to manage money

Talk to her about the tricks that advertisers and shops use to pretend she’s getting a bargain or must have an “essential item”. When she’s old enough, show her the household budget so she knows how much it can cost for food, rent and so on. She’ll understand why you keep banging on about budgeting.

  • There are smart ways to stay safe

When you talk to her about safety – on the computer, on the street, on public transport or out and about at parties or clubs – frame it in a way that praises her for being smart enough to outwit potential dangers and problems. Don’t just give her a set of rules. Role play will help her know what to say or do in real situations.

Sometimes girls will put themselves in danger rather than risk embarrassment – offer to be the “bad guy”, and have a code. For example, if she rings you while with a group of friends and says don’t be mad, she’ll feed the cat when she gets home, it secretly means she needs you to come and get her straight away. You can be the “mean parent” who insists it was your idea, and she gets to save face.

Are you going through that phase when you are just so curious about your teenage daughter, and you really need to know what she’s been up to?

Don’t beat yourself up; we all go through that phase. Many parents find it quite uncomfortable trying to find out more when she is just not letting up; should I spy on her, bug her phone, or ground her? It’s a real dilemma, trust me, you are not alone. It’s a normal phase you pass through when your baby is growing up.

We all handle this phase in different ways, I stumbled upon Circle of Moms, while trying to figure out how other Moms handle this, and here’s what some Moms think when the question was posed; should you snoop on your teen?

Jennifer Shallow W – I put the desktop shark on my 17 yr old cell, after reading some alarming things on FB, it has a GPS also and you can see messages. I don’t care if it seems like an invasion of privacy but teens today think they are adults and are not equipped emotionally for the things they are doing!

Mary Rellinger – I do not snoop or spy. However, as a parent, I always want to be “in the know” as to what my children are doing or where they are. If I suspect something is not right or that they are lying to me… then I may have to do some detective work.

Casey Ratledge – Oh yes I will, Proverbs 31 says a wise woman knows what goes on in her household! (A verse from the bible)

Francene Alba – As a parent, I am out for the best interest of my 15 yr old. I don’t view snooping as a sign of lack of trust. I don’t use snooping as a tool to confront issues that I may disagree with, but rather use it to gather info to use for my peace of mind that my child is ok, and dealing with common teen issues.

Nedra Webster – Every parent should go through their child’s possessions. You can sit around and wait for a teenager to tell you there’s a problem if you want, but God will be here before that happens. I went through backpacks, pockets, phones, closets, drawers and the car (once he started driving). Till this day, my son will tell his friends, he never underestimates my ability to find out things.

And Julie Rasac says – If my daughter ever gave me a reason to snoop on her I would. But she has never given her dad or I a reason to distrust her judgment.

Now you can see a lot of parents feel safer knowing what their teen has been up to.

Let’s take a look at what some specialists say; Dr. Michele Borba, Educational Psychologist and best-selling author says; When it comes to teens, trust is a two-way street that has changed over the last decade or so with the arrival of apps and devices that help parents track their teen’s social media accounts, text messages and even driving habits. But while it may feel like spying to read another person’s email or track their whereabouts, it’s not spying when your teen knows she’s being monitored. “Safety is always the top priority when it comes to parenting,”

Dr. Borba shares some tips on how to monitor your teen and not feel like its snooping.

  1. Hands – on parenting lessens risky behavior. If there’s one thing kids need from us, it’s for us to be present. Hands-on parenting means monitoring behavior, knowing your kids’ friends, setting clear rules and not being afraid to say no. “Study after study proves that the best protective action you can take as a parent is to keep the lines of communication open with your teens”.

  2. Involve them from the start. “Tell them you will monitor, but don’t tell them when or how often you’re monitoring. Many parents every once in a while will say, ‘Turn in your cell phone, and let’s make sure you’re abiding by the rules of the house,’ The child has to build your trust, and when they can demonstrate responsibility, then you gradually let them have more and more responsibilities and freedom.

  3. Learn their language. Parents need to know teen shorthand and acronyms so they can understand what they’re reading. For example, MOS means mom over shoulder, KPC means keeping parents clueless, LMIRL means let’s meet in real life and GAP means got a picture. Google “texting abbreviations” or “online language” and you’ll find cheat sheets to help you.

  4. Set rules for sharing. Teach kids that there are no “take-backs” when it comes to the internet, and they should think about what they post as being live for everyone to see forever — including Grandma. Teens should not share personal information, such as full name, birthday, address, social security number etc. as this makes them easier to locate. If you find they break these basic safety rules when you’re monitoring, make sure there’s a consequence.

  5. Take advantage of tools and apps. Parental controls, internet service providers, computer software and various apps can monitor texts and emails, block visits to inappropriate sites (hate sites, pornographic sites) and email you reports of their online activity, though tech-savvy teens can figure out how to get around such things, that’s why they should be in the know. Be honest and let them know you’ve installed software. “Just don’t divulge what kind”.

  6. Set curfews, and definitely wait up. “Peer pressure is huge. Teens need safety nets. There is no better excuse than for a kid to be able to use than, ‘Mom will ground me for life if I don’t get home.’ Do tell your teen that he or she has your full permission to always use you as an excuse”.

  7. Be their safety net. You may have seen a recent viral story about a dad who gave his teen son a way to safely get out of social situations when he’s uncomfortable. Sometimes teens feel they can’t call or text for help because other kids will hear or see. So this duo set up an escape system where if the teen texted the father an “X,” the father would drop everything to come pick him up, wherever he was, no questions asked. Dr. Borba says it’s an excellent system, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s an X or an ABC, the catch is; you have to honor the “no questions asked” part. She has heard from kids who’ve tried this emergency escape plan only to get the third-degree from a parent later on, and they never used it again.

Be their safety net and you may just find that they won’t need the monitoring.

By Boma Benjy Iwuoha

By: Mwila Mwila
Parents may not sometimes approve of the dressing styles that the teenage girls are following but in most cases, it’s just a lack of a good memory in most of us Parents, especially Mothers, on what a confusing stage Teenage hood can be, especially when it comes to individual style and fashion taste.  Teenagers usually experiment with different elements with regards to clothing and try to find their unique sense of style.  If you have a teen girl at home, you’ve probably already seen her fretting over what to wear and how to style her look, please allow them, a little experiment would do no harm. And besides, it’s just another phase in growing up, which eventually fades.

Instead of trying to have them fit in with your preferred and imagined kind of peer dress code, as most parents to Teenagers do,  you have to remember that, it’s not just about ‘’dress code,’’ at this stage, it’s rather more about self-discovery.  It would be helpful if you help them discover and become an individual they are seeking to become by creating their own sense of style and that way you won’t have to fight over ‘’dress code’’ all the time.

You also have to understand that age doesn’t matter when it comes to fashion and style sense, it is inherent, we are born with it, complementing our temperaments and in many cases, this can be a Gift that gets out to dress the Globe as many Fashion Designers and Fashion Icons out there. Despite being only teenagers, most Teenage girl’s sense of style is fashion-forward and tasteful, creating global trends, in our social media age, mostly, age-appropriate but edgy, and it’s interesting that they manage to keep their style feminine with a little flair and by adding their own spin on, they go on to create something really unique and out of the box for themselves. Amazing!

It’s important that as Parents we don’t use their age to stop them from exploring their fashion sense. As a mom, let your teen girl explore and enjoy the world of fashion, even as you guide her through some interesting ideas that will help her create her own individual fashion identity and win in life.

So Mom here’s your chance to update your girl with some interesting and very ‘it’ fashion styles that are all the rage right now and find another angle to get along from with your Teenage girl. Here is a list of fashion ideas for teens that will let your teen girl find her own style and be comfortable with it. Firstly, never forget to teach them from a very tender age, to always remember, one doesn’t have to wear anything heavy, labels or expensive to show off a dressing sense. Style is all about being comfortable with your discovered individual fashion sense. After all teenage years is personal worth and sense of style discovery period, and it is allowed to flaunt yourself in various styles until you find what you are actually comfortable in. And at this age, most trends speak about the colours. Vibrant and pastel colours are the main colours at this age. Then floral prints, funky and quirky designs are a great way to look stylish also.

Growing up as a teenager many of my friends had issues with the subject I am about to write on. This topic is of utmost importance considering the fact that it addresses a very crucial aspect of teenage-hood; a point where every teenager ought to be guided. This, however, does not seem to be the case as both parents and teens shy away from discussing relationship startups as I would like to call them.

Once a child gets to a certain age, thinks become different. He/she experiences changes in physical appearance, raging hormones, emotional affinities and so on. All of these things come all at once and may be very confusing. As if that is not enough worry, they discover that they become attracted to the opposite sex. For a teenage girl, this is very important because it can either make or mar her self-esteem.

Almost all teenagers have no idea of what to do when caught in this web. They can’t tell how their parents will react to such news, and in most cases, they feel they have no one to talk to. It is important for parents to realize that having a male friend early in life is not a taboo. The main thing is to teach your daughter how to nurture such a friendship in the most acceptable way possible, and not forgetting other aspects of her life that are equally important.

Intimacy brings along with it, bond, likeness, faithfulness, and sometimes true love. When a young girl gets a new female friend and they spend almost their time together they grow to love themselves like sisters, this also happens when they become close to the opposite sex. In this case, however, there is the possibility of misguided judgment which may lead to heartbreak and other adverse ripple effects.

With proper guardiance, every teenage girl will know how best to manage emotions, how best to guide her heart and her thoughts, and how best to nurture a prospective relationship to an expected end.

How can this be done? “Awareness”, help the girl-child to know the nitty-gritty of this norm and this can be effectively done when their parents especially their mothers become involved in the social-life of the young child.

The role of a mother is all too important in the life of a girl-child, especially at the teenage stage.

 

Your role as a mother

 

You are to guide her and not scare her: many mothers often miss this point, instead of showing the child the right path they instill fear in them by telling them things that are unrealistic. This is very wrong because when they find out the truth, they will never believe anything you say and will begin to hide their social lives from you.

Educate her don’t cheat her: many mothers cheat their daughters by keeping them away from many truths which they end up learning outside the home. Also, you have to be careful about the things you introduce to them, dp proper research to be abreast with current occurrences so that you can relate appropriately.

Encourage her don’t judge her: the teenage stage is filled with too many ups and downs, so you don’t have to be their antagonist because they are already faced with mostly emotional troubles. Many teenagers end up developing mood swings and low self-esteem because no one ever noticed their emotional challenges. Some even come out of their comfort zones to share their burden but many parents shut them out by negative reactions.

What they need to know:

  1. Girls need to know that it is normal to develop feelings for a close male friend: Feelings point to the fact that you care about a person. As a parent helping the child manage this situation is important. If you have a healthy relationship with your child, she should be able to tell what she feels for any guy. Even if she is not able to tell you, your relationship with her helps to detect such situations. In many cases some girls many not know when they like a guy until they start getting jealous. But you can notice it and point it out to them, and also guide them through the process.

As a mother don’t stop at discussion be keen on helping the child do it right. Do not be careless about the decisions they make, care about their decisions and work with them to achieve it.

  1. Girls must know that feelings do not change who they are: for some teenagers, having discovered that they are beginning to develop feelings for their male friends, they decide to end the relationship because they are scared or not ready for a romantic relationship. As a parent, you must help her know that that is not the best of reactions. Getting to know the company your daughter keeps will also enable you to render proper advice where necessary.
  2. Girls must realize that they can be hurt: many girls grow up in an environment where they were immensely loved and as a result, they never think that the outside world holds both negative and positive scenes. When a teenage girl experiences heartbreak for the first time it changes her perception of life.

Parents can help to prevent such result with proper education. Having said that, be careful not to put fear in them but rather let them know that mistakes and failures are a part of life which makes people strong and better.

Mothers must learn to talk with their girls, they must become team mates with their female children. Mother must go the extra miles to save their children from mistakes, this is one way to make the world a better place because the results are passed on from generations to generations.

 

Image: expertbeacon.com

 

By: Mwila Mwila

I was a very happy, charismatic, intelligent, ambitious, beautiful young girl with a bright future, taking life by its horns and educationally competing on a National level, and beating boys in higher Grades. I was growing up in an extended religious home that suddenly fell apart after the death of an uncle that kept the family knitted together and provided for it.

Although I was only about three years of age, I can vividly recount in details, the violent events leading to my parent’s divorce, and the quick remarrying of my father, when I was almost four years of age. Though both parents were still alive, I never really had a stable home or a permanent family to live with after that, going from one home to the other, with my grandmother’s home to always fall back on, and she was a vicious, fierce task master that didn’t take nonsense and beat me badly almost every day.

Despite all this, I was a very happy, loud and hard-working skinny girl, in every family home I ended up with, playing a leading role in house chores, so as to feel accepted and loved, and it worked out perfectly.

When I was twelve years old, I went to live with my Mom for almost 6 months in another beautiful serene city, where she got a beautiful apartment, after finding a job and meeting a man who was to marry her, although he was already married. Now, those were the happier months of my teenage years, but they were unfortunately short lived. When my Mother lost her job and had relationship problems with her married man, she had what only now in my grown up years, could diagnose as an emotional breakdown, which made her take off, leaving me alone in the house without informing anyone, until my Granny got the reports and came for me. I again had to move cities back to my Grandmother and another new school.

When I arrived in the new school, I had the attention of every famous boy in the school and vicinity I lived. I was the favourite of teachers of the entire School, most, of whom would take me to classes and grades higher than I was in, to give me questions to answer on the board in front of an entire classroom and I would get them right. This action would be used to shame every pupil in those classes. As a result, girls envied me and boys’ egos wanted to be associated with me.

I was the best debater, dancer, and everything you could think of, except Sports.

 

The envy from girls and admiration from boys, became even worse when I participated in a School Beauty Contest, which Ieft me crowned the reigning Queen of the School, I was only 12 years old.

Weeks after that Contest, which had made me very famous, not only in school, but in the city, my Married Male Class Teacher, whom I loved and respected, because I thought he loved and favoured me, asked me to take books he needed to remain with for marking after school, to his tiny dark school office. Well, I did not see anything wrong with that since I was usually the favourite with every teacher in every School I went to. When I opened the office door, putting the books on the table, my teacher whom I assumed to have remained in class, was unexpectedly behind me. He quickly closed the door behind him violently grabbed me and kissed me disgustingly deeply. After he finished, he looked at me and said he had been trying hard to stop himself from what just happened, to no avail. He said he fell for me from the moment I arrived at the school and that he finally had to tell me that he was in love with me.

I remember how shattered I felt, the fear that gripped me and the confusion and disappointment I felt, with that being my first kiss, and it was not from the person I had ever dreamed of being with, or even the way I had imagined my first kiss would be.

Now, you have to bear in mind that, the school was my refuge and escape from all the physical abuse I was suffering at home, so after the kissing incident, I was left defenseless and I just hated school from that day onwards. I remember I would leave the house in the morning and pretended to be going to school, but never arriving there. I would sometimes go and read in the nearby bushes, as we had no libraries in my vicinity or closer and I would wait for school time to pass, so I could go back home, which made my grades, social life and confidence drop drastically.

I didn’t trust my teacher after that, I hated him and I was suddenly afraid of him. I couldn’t bear being around him.

When National exam time came, qualifying pupils to leave Primary School to High School, I went through and wrote the National Exams and I passed with flying colors, into a Girls High School that only took up very intelligent girls, something my Granny and family expected.

 

 

Arriving at the New school about 4 months late, due to lack of funds and school provisions, a Geography teacher tried taking advantage of me. I escaped, insulted and hated and in disappointment, I further grew disinterested in men and school, growing more and more interest in the Library and self-education.

The biggest pain of my teenage years, was not having anyone to trust who could take me seriously and fight for me should I had reported such incidences, as I was once beaten for trying to report an attempted rape in a naïve manner to my Granny, by a close relative, being only a kid then, who told me I should never ever be heard to repeat such things ever again.

Anyway, shortly, after arriving in high School, and the Geography teacher incident, I stumbled upon a group of Girls who were radical christians, and there, I recommitted my life to God and from thereafter, I grew a sudden boldness and a courage that had me fearlessly confronting anybody else who ever tried such advances on me, and I was nowhere close to being taken advantage of ever again.

I had learned to fight against Old Senseless men, and my life regained control again.

By: Mwila Mwila

A Fantastic Job Well was done to everyone who has been in the forefront in the fight for Girl-Child educational Campaigns all across Africa and everyone from the Western Countries who spear headed and or funded any of such Campaigns.  It is such a joy, we have almost crossed the hurdles and impediments of Girl Child Educational hindrances in Africa, although free elementary education still remains a parliamentary debate on the lips of so many obviously unconcerned politicians, who usually bring up such debates only to come across as relevant, for votes or to maintain their political positions. But hey, with further pushing and a little more added pressure, we will be able to speak of an African with at least free Elementary education. And we sure can.

It is good to note that, today, most Africans can testify to the fact that, that old Custom traditional mentality, that hindered and stopped girl child education with beliefs that investing in a girl’s Education is a sheer waste of time, limiting  her role to that of house chores, getting married, having as many babies, raising a family and, or maybe work somewhere as a house helper , or in a restaurant, is almost a complete wiped off  myth, even in the remotest parts of  the Sub-Saharan Africa, as the educational awareness Campaigns for a girl Child’s education continues to spread, raising the confidence and self-esteem of many girls, who thankfully now dream of becoming something bigger and better than just a homemaker.

This sure once was an uphill battle, but it is almost completely won as more and more girls are in schools  and in the past two decades, it has become normal to see girls graduate and going on further  to assume National, Continental and even up to Global Leadership roles formerly mostly dominated by Male figures only.

Having founded a Foundation for Children and Youth Educational, Social and Economic Empowerment, at a very tender age, which obviously demands me to travel extensively, especially to the remotest parts of African countries, on speaking engagements, taking donations and spotting  vulnerable but  determined children and youth to connect with well-wishers, willing to quietly, and on personal basis, out of their own good will, invest in individual scholarships, it has been sad for me to note that, while the battle for girl-child education is clearly being won, the foundation on which to breed happier, fulfilled educated girls and women leaders still lays fallow, as, after all, the problem hasn’t been a lack of Education all along, but rather a conducive and Loving environment where a girl child can grow up in, feeling protected, fought for and supported by especially her family members, Customary, Society, and Government Laws.

Now while the campaign for girl-child education in Africa mostly started off with the Western Countries breaking the customary  paradigms in most of our founding Leaders, discouraging the traditions that hindered and stopped girls from pursuing an education, after they themselves noted by experience that educating girls is a sure-fire way to raise economic productivity, lower infant and maternal mortality, improve nutritional status, health, and radically reduce poverty, which most men wouldn’t handle correctly with some things being inherent, I believe the fight to create an atmosphere conducive to raise African girls on, will have to come from African Leaders themselves, who will have to create very strict  and tight Laws that will make anyone think twice before they can violate a girl-child. When others see perpetrators brought to justice harshly, it certainly will bring about a pause and some ripple effects.

And this change will need to extend beyond the government, to engage families, the opinion leaders, traditional Leaders, religious leaders, the elders and their chiefs, in an effort to change attitudes and paradigms, as they are often the gatekeepers. African families and parents especially must be taught to build much closer, intimate and trusting relationships with their own children in order to create an atmosphere conducive enough for emotional vulnerability and help influence their life choices at teenage age.  I strongly agree that the education brought to us by the Western leadership has greatly helped liberate the minds of many teenage girls in Africa, who are now growing up with ambitions other than the former school of thought that limited girls to the kitchen and child bearing and has done a lot of good on the Continent, but greater Continental developmental responsibility remains unattended on the part of the African family elders and Leaders.

Through my interactions with so many teenage girls around Africa, I have sadly noted that despite the educational liberation, many teenage girls still remain unprotected sexually and feel not just let down by the Law, by also greatly violated.

As cheap news as it may sound, a blind eye and deaf ear can’t continue to be given to the fact that, two out of four girls in Africa have been sexually violated from a very tender age by Men and Women with untamed sexual urges in the name of tradition, culprits who know the Law and society is too weak to protect your Girls and Children at large,  hence what should be shocking rape incidences don’t even qualify to make Headline News in our African Continent, unless it is a political vendetta where obviously someone gains something out of it.

 

It is contrary to the very tenets of humanity that our defenseless young girls are being preyed upon by mostly adult men and some women without strict sanctions.

Some of the bigger causes of these issues are the power relations between older men and young vulnerable teenage girls‚ which is often compounded by poverty‚ customs and tradition that turn a blind eye to such violence. How I look for the Africa soon to form, that will instead of celebrating‚ encouraging, ignoring or just merely laugh about the practice of traditions that violate  a teenage girl while stealing her childhood and innocence, would instead strongly condemn such inhumane, outdated and out of hand practices or else the girl-child educational empowerment positive strides which have been made will keep producing bitter angry women who are themselves incapable of making happy homes and raising fulfilled confident Children.

 

And most of our unfought for teenage girls who have been victims of rape forced marriages and teenage pregnancies, tend to reveal numerous health complications for the young girls of their age. These range from HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) to pregnancy related complications such as infant mortality and maternal mortality, lowering their life expectancy, yet still, no strict Laws seem to be put into place to protect our girl-child. And many girls that have fought to beat the odds, usually become educated angry and bitter women with a short life expectancy due to infectious diseases passed onto them during rape.

Well, I assume by now the whole world has heard about the Nigerian Chibok Girls, I won’t be getting into it in this article at least. For now, maybe the world also has to hear enough to provoke action, about the Hyena man in Malawi, the HIV Positive man, who raped and infected over 80 teenage girls as young as 12 years old in the name of tradition. How it could even get to more than 80 girls and even just how this man could easily talk about it to press with a smile shows what an uphill battle it is for the liberation of a Girl -Child from her Sexual predators.

And then we have what is called,  Ukuthwala, a tradition which is still being practiced, particularly in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, which involves the kidnapping, rape and forced marriage of minor girls as young as 12 years of age, by grown men old enough to be their grandfathers. This tradition which steals innocence causes an abrupt end to a girl’s Childhood and the care free existence that all children are entitled to, is strongly upheld in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa in this day and age.

Can you imagine? Suddenly the little girl is a wife with a husband and almost instantly, her own Children and in-laws to serve or look after.

It is things like these that most teenage girls are still suffering from in Africa.  Actually, my own Research on this tradition has proven that the majority of the girls and young women who are victims of Ukuthwala are from poor families and later in life, their lack of education and underdevelopment due to this tradition deepens their poverty and perpetuate the cycle of poverty.

My Mom often says, in several instances, the children born into poverty also tend to be poorer as grownups, which  contributes to the cycle of poverty in the communities around Africa, even though the issue of rape is not only in the poorer areas but also very apparent in the average and wealthy areas, even though in such places it is often disguised  and subtly labelled as  ” Romantic” relationships.

 

I once visited a teenage girl in jail serving a sentence, for strangling to death and throwing a baby she had given birth to, in a pit latrine toilet in one of the South African locations, and when she opened up to me on how she fell pregnant, without coming across as condoning what was done to the baby, who also had a right to life, I somehow understood her bitterness that led to her action. She was bitter against the man that had abused her and impregnated her without anyone doing anything about it, and she couldn’t conceive the thought of seeing the man in that child for the rest of her life and even if the child was to be given up for adoption, she basically didn’t want her abuser alive and since she couldn’t masculine him, she, unfortunately, had to take out her pressure in that child.

When I was a teenager growing up in Lusaka, Zambia, a family I knew   closely and often visited, went through a trauma, in which their only 12-year-old Daughter was discovered to have had sex with all the male workers at their residence, and this family had more than 5 male workers including an older man, who was over 74 years old, working as a gardener at the same Residence. When the lady maid in the helper caught one of the five workers having sex with the 12 years old girl, the daughter of the house, the guy then decided to reveal that he was not the only one having sex with this girl and if he had to go to jail all of the male workers had to go with him as they all had slept with her including  this over 74-year-old man. What was even sadder was that, after being tested for HIV, they were all tested positive for HIV including this teenage girl. Now what shocked me even though, I was only a 15 year old teenager myself at that time, was the fact that, after the hype of that week, none of these men were jailed for more than three months, and the oldest man even got released within a few days of bail hearing, because apparently, while he could manage to have sex with this young girl,  he was too old and frail to go to jail or serve a prison sentence for this. I was only a teenager, but I remember how my spirit sunk as my Mom broke that news to me. Unfortunately, everyone including my Mom seemed to blame this 12-year-old girl for sleeping with over 5 men, and I remember fighting that, it was totally unjust to blame this girl as she was young and although already a Christian at that time,  vengeance seemed to be burning in my heart against these men, I longed for some sort of harsh spiritual punishment against them, just somehow, since the Zambian Law had failed my wish and I felt so disappointed in the Government and Police, it was actually at that point, I lost confidence in our Zambian Police Services. For the very first time, I faced the harsh reality that justice does not exist for a girl Child in my Country.

Three years ago, I visited a dear wonderful family in Zimbabwe and my friend told me of a story that had brought such shame in their family, where my friend’s Grandfather, impregnated a 14-year-old girl in the extended family who was given to him to help with his house chores as he mourned the passing of his wife he had been married to since his youth, my friend’s Grandmother.

Upon confrontation, after people noticed the pregnancy of this 14-year-old teenage girl, his excuse was of course tradition. Asked to marry this girl and sad enough, he was allowed to take this teenage girl for a wife. I’m talking about a man in his late 80’s.

My question is, how could sex with a minor still be labeled tradition, turn into marriage and think we are a liberated Continent celebrating various years of independence? Who really got liberated in Africa?

In 2016, it was discovered that more than 2‚000 girls under the age of 18 in the rural Ratlou Local Municipality‚ about 70km outside Mahikeng in North West, had been impregnated‚ mostly by older men and the youngest mother was reported to be a teenager of only 12 years. Now, I visited this place and what shocked me was that there were no reports of rape from any of the girls I spoke with or their families, a pain that has eaten my soul as I serve my Continent in South Africa.

One time, I remember, having sexual pictures in evidence of a married Church Leader, with a Congregation of over five thousand members who was having sex with a 15-year-old teenage girl, to an extent of exchanging nude pictures and videos with her.

When this girl discovered that this Minister was also having sex with her friend in the same Church, she got heart broken and decided to approach me and talk to me. Well, not because she wanted to finally spill the beans, but because she was heartbroken, with this guy being her very first Love, and he had sworn he was in love with her and she had of course believed him as any child would, and had been having an affair with her for 4 years by the time she was 15 years old, when she approached me, while still attending the same Church. When I heard this and saw the evidence, which she had in fact sworn to delete, but kept some for fun, I decided to approach her family, as I needed consent to take this Pastor to Jail and Bouy was that the mistake of my life?

This family which seemed upset at the news and welcoming my idea of handing this man to the authorities, went behind my back the next day, approached the Pastor, who offered them a few Dollars and then went ahead and turned the girl against me.

The next time I bumped into this girl, a few months later after that incident, she was in the vehicle with this pastor and a few other men and one lady, accompanying their Pastor on a trip to preach outside of town. Of course, you don’t think I bought her being part of the team was innocent, do you? But what else could I have done when the family of the girl could easily make money out of the 15-year-old teenage girl? I was disempowered.

 

As I mentioned earlier, the change to bring about the protection of teenage girls will need to extend beyond the government, to engaging families, traditional leaders, religious leaders, elders and chiefs in an effort to change paradigms, traditions, and attitudes as they are often the gatekeepers, even in the girl-child’s life. Any community and any National development hugely depend on its people and this includes the level of health, knowledge and educational skills and the resources controlled by those people.

 

I have had so  many sad experiences that not only leave me and many other people involved with different organizations dealing with teenage girls and women shocked, but handcuffed and disempowered to do anything at all to protect such girls where families prefer getting funds out of their abuse, with  the police advising me that no case can be opened unless the family gave full consent, probably not realising the defining depth of Male’s involvement in a Girl’s life especially at early development stage which influences her future life, shapes her Perception and Opinion of MEN, Self-Esteem, Self-image, and Confidence, either in a Positive or a Negative way. Sad.

Surely, unprecedented and decisive action has to be put into place to end such and maybe even send some parents and relatives to jail for contributing to this ill through financial gain. Honestly, when 2 000 underage girls show up pregnant in one small community and mostly by older Men, indicates a pandemic that lays in the fabric of that society.

 

A certain 45 years old lady I met in Swaziland, was raped when she was only 15 years old in School, by her class Teacher, she got pregnant and gave birth to a boy, who is now in his 20’s,  and all these years later, she is still trying to learn to  accept  and Love,  something that is not easily spoken about in our African Societies, as most people don’t understand the future repercussions of sexual abuse on the emotional and mental life of a girl  growing up into a woman. What is even more insane is that this rapist is still a School teacher.

Think about it, how many teenage girls are his victims today since the one family refused to speak out for fear of shame in the community, or getting little funds out of it, or simply letting it go?

 

And by the way, if it is a Woman found to be sexually abusing a teenage girl, it is not even considered a taboo in Africa and yet we now deal with such many cases where teenage girls confide in us of how an Aunty or Helper uncomfortably touches their private parts in the name of girl’s playful time.

 

I know the issue of sexual abuse has been spoken of, over and over in Africa, until as I mentioned earlier, does not even make Headline News, unless it is a political feud, where something is in it for someone somewhere, hence it becomes more and more shocking for me when I hear Bills that states that children between the ages of 12 and 15 can consent to sexual acts with each other, being adopted by the South African National Assembly and get signed into Law. It is shocking that, these elders have failed and literally done nothing to fight the highest Sexual abuse Predators in the Nation and now, despite the World Health Organization warning and confirming that South Africa has the highest number of HIV infected cases in the World, they can still pass such a law for a child whose brain is scientifically proven to not have been developed enough to make reliable emotional decisions of their own, normalizing what should be regarded as sexual offenses and wiping off the guilty of all adults that once or repeatedly touches these young girls. I always say, I wish our African Politicians in Parliaments and various positions  could go beyond Political Positions, titles, fame, and glamour, once in a while, leave their offices, take off their expensive Suits, be disguised as youth Workers or Missionaries, come with us to our Project centres, personally interact with many of the teenagers and Youth out in the Communities, I believe they would rule better and we would see Africa develop rapidly, because then, they will know exactly what they need to do from first-hand experience and personal interactions with the people they are leading, instead of this near election time, generous attitudes which even the dullest person knows to be manipulation and a lack of Leadership.

 

I can, therefore, summarize the challenges African Teenage Girls suffer into two major parts: Traditions that steal their innocence and Loose Constitutional Laws that fail to protect the rights of innocent defenseless teenage girls and Children.

 

I remember recently holding the shoulder of a heart broken sobbing man in South Africa, whose teenage daughter was raped by his long time older neighbor friend, married with older Children. When this man took the case to the police, nothing much could be done as this man was influential in the community and the police could use a little bribe after all, so it was another weak end for another Teenage girl.

My thinking always is, couldn’t Courts and systems be put in place, specifically for such matters, where it will be impossible for culprits to escape standing trial? Because there has been no harsh punishment rendered, this continues to be an epidemic, that keeps destroying  what Girl-child educational empowerment campaigns are building and have built through the years, making the future of Africa so blur as Women decide to play masculine roles out of Bitterness for lack of Protection.

See, we often have Celebrated Visible DIFFERENT TYPES OF Cancer Survivors, But we forget and have through the years ignored one of the worst and deadliest forms of Cancer, that has killed and Continues to claim the lives of More Women, baby Girls and Teenage Girls, more than Breast or Cervix Cancer has ever claimed, and this particular Cancer is called: Girl-Child ABUSE CANCER.

As a matter of fact, there are more YOUNG GIRLS AND women who are suffering from and Die of Emotional Wounds THAN PHYSICAL SICKNESS IN SOME LONELY CONER SOMEWHERE all over the Continent of Africa, disappointed that no one could protect their innocence. Actually different forms of physical Cancers in Women is proven to mostly be caused by emotional wounds which usually turn into stress and severe Chronic Depression, causing Physical Cancers.

Most sexually abused Girls who have grown into Women, barely Exist, because the Will to LIVE gets stolen from them by Cruel Men and are often proven not to have a normal Life, without proper help Love and counseling, and are also proven to have a short Lifespan. Hence the reason I say, A WOMAN WHO IS A SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIM, WHO DESPITE ALL THE TRAUMA, is DETERMINED TO LIVE AND NOT JUST MERELY EXIST AND CONTINUE RISING AGAINST ALL ODDS, even unto the betterment of human life is WORTH CELEBRATING, and especially by Sane Men out there, who are willing to put up a fight to protect Women against Sexual abuse!

Saving a Girl’s life even if it’s from a single cause of death means saving Many Lives likely to live quite a while longer. May their rise an urgency in the Law to strictly Protect a Girl-Child in Africa!

 

Mwila Mwila

Ground Takers Foundation(GTF)

Email: itsmwilamwila@gmail.com

Cell: +27 84 539 7102