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Following an observation by Women Against Rape (WAR) that culture remains a barrier between parent and child to communicate with each other about issues of sexual reproduction and substance abuse, the Non-Governmental Organisation has since partnered with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for a two months communication course in the Okavango areas.
The programme strives to improve parent to child communication on sexual, reproductive health, rights and gender based violence at the family and community level.
The programme which is themed ‘a re bueng’ translating ‘let’s talk’ involves children aged between 10 to 19 years and a total of 2523 parents within the Okavango region. Out of the number, 758 of the parents have since graduated from the five module programme.
In an interview, WAR Shakawe Branch Manager, Samson Magano explained that the course is intended to break cultural barriers between child and parent communication which has been the norm in the cultural setup. He indicated that in areas such as Mohembo East where cultural believes are still strong, communication barrier between parents and children is common.
“Okavango is among areas with high gender based violence issues, we have realized that lack of proper communication between a child and parents is among the contributing factors. In a traditional set up parents do not talk such issues to children unless they are being reprimanding,”Magano said.
Magano noted that as the programme will teach parents on how to engage with children on issues of sexual reproductions, they will do away with being ashamed to have such talks with children. He indicated that it will help children hiding away from reporting their abusers to be able to freely talk to their parents.
“We have high numbers of GBV cases that are unreported by children because of the communication barrier, some are afraid to talk as their culture has made them believe that they are not supposed to discuss sexual issues with parents however we have hope that they will be able to report such issues now that they will be comfortable talking to their parents,” Magano explained.
He indicated that though they had challenges with convincing parents to engage with their children in discussing sexual issues, those who have graduated from the programme have gave them testimonies on how it has worked for them.
In order to address GBV issues, Magano has indicated that there is need for mindset change for both parents and children when it comes to issues of communication. He stressed that if communication is conducive then parents will be able to detect when something is mentally disturbing their child.
“With effective communication a parent will be able to deter their child from being involved in various illicit acts such as substance abuse, early sexual relationships and other issues that may end destroy a child’s future,” Magano said.