By DERRICK SINJELA, SAEED SIMON BANDA and HENRY CHUNZA
The Zambia National Men’s Network for Gender and Development National Coordinator Nelson Banda views reports in the media attributed to Paramount Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people that girls who fall pregnant must be punished and not offered support are not encouraging the fight against teenage pregnancies.
Mr. Banda says the call by Paramount Chief Mpezeni for stiffer punishments of girls as opposed to giving adolescents financial help if the cases are to be reduced in various communities is likely to lead to more vulnerability on the part of the girls and increase poverty among the affected.
Banda is of the view that efforts should also be directed to the men and boys who sexually abuse small girls by enticing them with gifts in exchange for sexual favours instead of calling for punishment of girls only.
Banda feels that expressing punitive threats against pregnant girls is not going to solve the solve the problem but inflict double punishment for girls as they will have to endure the challenge of carrying the pregnancy, dropping out of school, including the risk of maternal deaths while the man responsible for the pregnancy goes scot-free.