• Blandina Malinzi

Adolescent’s initiation rituals in shaping adolescents sexuality

When is it the right time to have sex talk? In the past, there used to be initiation ceremonies where families and communities came together traditionally to provide young people with information and guidance on sex and life in general. These rituals happened mostly in rural areas from children aged thirteen years old.

Talking about sex with elders and communities rarely happens as it is thought as shameful, embarrassing and a taboo in this case. Here in Tanzania, most young adults do not talk about it with neither their siblings nor elders. As for me, it just feels weird and wrong to talk about such issues with my mum or sisters. (Image courtesy of google image).

Then, the provision of sexual education was formalized as part of the initiation ceremony where elders prepared young people for their adulthood, including education on the responsibilities of marriage, and child rearing during which girls and boys were separated too.

Times have now changed and they are such means as books, podcasts, the internet to obtain sexual education and advice. Moreover, the present version of initiation ceremony is now known as ‘kitchen party’ where only women attend including mothers, aunties and other female in-laws give advice to the bride to be on how she is expected to act as a wife, lover and mother to her family.(Image courtesy of google images).

It is crucial to understand how sex education takes place within the family and community, and how they affect the sexual beliefs and behavior of young people. With increased urbanization, however these rituals have lost their significance and the transition from childhood to adulthood is more complicated by such developments.

Young people have a great number of partners now more than ever thus increasing risks in contracting STD’s and HIV/AID, and yet there is also lack of access to effective contraception. (Image courtesy of pixabay).

According to Wilson (1994) prior to his interviews with 80 young people from the age between 14-18 years addressed that nowadays getting information on sex tends to be obtained not from family members, but from the media, school and friends this can lead to dangers and repercussions where they may receive bad advice.

Moreover, it is being thought that obtaining information from extended family members as sometimes one-sided as everyone has their own opinion and perceptions thus it becomes difficult for young people to make right choices with mixed advice.

That being said, initiation rituals are still in existence and unlike before, it is now being carried by adults who are less sure of their roles than in the past. They are now in a westernized world where not all are traditionalists. In Tanzania we don’t have sex education in formal education system since sex talk is considered a taboo in schools and most teachers may feel embarrassed to talk about it.

It is therefore important that teachers, communities and parents be given guidance and trained to work with young people and be open and willing to talk to them because by not doing so they let their children go a bad path where they only have trial and errors to get them through the experience. (Image courtesy of pixbay).

Despite challenges, Tai Tanzania soldiers on in the use of 3D Animation to raise awareness, promote, and educate adolescents on sexual and reproductive health so that they can reach their full potential.

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