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25.10.2019 Feature Article

Sexuality, Sex, Or Sexualization For Ghana?

Sexuality, Sex, Or Sexualization For Ghana?
OCT 25, 2019 FEATURE ARTICLE

The recent debate on Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) seems to have died down now; however, for the true picture, some few aspects are worth looking at. Knowledge is power, and obviously knowledge about whatever is important in life is also important, and Ghana should not be an exception in accepting this.

Ghana’s culture is at what I describe as a “Culture junction” with those of the Western world and others which is normal in any dynamic non-stagnant situations. Even stagnant/conservative situations cannot be immune to change from their environment! Like what happens at road junctions if there are no traffic lights, where one has to be careful and considerate of others in order to go through it smoothly without an accident same care is needed at the culture junction too.

Ghana’s traditions have unfortunately been affected by this cultural mix in a way that has almost divided the country into the traditional and orthodox Ghanaians. And among the many traditional practices and teachings, those on sex, sexuality or sexualization have suffered relegation the most because little is permitted to be discussed about it even among adults.

The reproductive organs (particularly the female’s) is perceived as the unofficial center of life in the sense that conception of the baby is through the sexual intercourse by these organs. These reproductive organs help show the attainment of a youngster into the puberty age and subsequently adulthood. The same organs serve as the bonding force in a marriage, but unfortunately, this is the most important department in life being neglected.

The fear of Ghanaians that their children would be exposed to adult issues in the proposed CSE should not be entertained, for educationists know how to filter any subject to the levels of any pupil/student, if they are serious and desirous to work. If all that KG children should know about sexuality are their appropriate names, and that the sexual organ is part of our bodies so they should not be ashamed to talk about it, for example, would this be scary?

Consider the generally feared snake that no parent/adult would allow near their children for example. Its picture is featured in all KG books and walls as the best symbol for the letter ‘S’ of the alphabet. Does featuring and learning about the snake in the alphabet teach the KG pupil to go searching for the snake or not to be cautious of it! interestingly, here too there is some miseducation/misinformation about the dangers snakes pose; since the lot of them are not poisonous, and those that are do not attack until disturbed/threatened. When would it be appropriate to let the child know about the snake in a snake infested area for example? Should it be before or after a child is bitten by one?

Well, let’s not forget about the internet that is freely offering information to all and sundry, wherever whenever and the possibility of the child picking some to confuse themselves. So if out of embarrassment, parents shy away from teaching children sexuality they are expected to know at the appropriate time and would not allow teachers to teach them either, then sorry but don’t blame their early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) on another, conservative traditionalist.

It may appear too early to some to have this education at the early teens, At the teen age of children, note that they are ripe enough to have sex as that their menstruation and all signs of puberty show. These are natural warning signs that they are capable of bearing children anytime from then. Nature cannot be opposed successfully for long so it would be better to impart the needed education on sexuality than leave knowledge of it to chance.

This is why traditionally the female youth is taken into their “training camps” and prepared for marriage on seeing their first menstruation. This inauguration process is what they call DIPO, BRAGORO, etc. in the Krobo and Akan cultures respectively and virtually advertised for marriage as they are celebrated, hence their near nakedness to show their natural endowments. So, considering the objectives of the traditional puberty rites at teen age what are the grounds for the fears entertained because of early CSE?

Could it be the rumored possibility of smuggling LGBTQI into the course? Well, if so why not? Like the snake example, knowledge about anything bad does not necessarily recommend their use to the learner. Ignorance of them rather could make the people use them with the least persuasion noting that sex is an important thing in life as said earlier. About early sex, we could make our children understand that even as it is a good thing but meant for married adults, and any youth who wants to engage in it should also be ready to contribute towards housekeeping budget wherever they are!

It is worth mentioning though that those thinking that sex/sexuality education will prevent rape should reconsider, because the driving force behind rape is more a misuse of power by the rapist/offender. One could therefore be a degree holder in sex, but when they are cornered at the right place what will save them is not their sexual knowledge but common sense. And what will make them not report the offence will not be their ignorance of sex/sexuality but fear of the threat issued by the offender.

It is incontrovertible that education is the backbone of any economy including Ghana, however it is about time that we directed the education to ourselves more in order to understand and grow our own environment. If our environment is to make us comfortable in life how reasonable will it be to learn about others and their environments at the expense of our own and expect to be comfortable using our undeveloped environment. So let us support the CSE and monitor that the wrong things are not taught our children!

Kwabena Ofori-Panin
Kwabena Ofori-Panin, © 2019

This author has authored 133 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KwabenaOforiPanin

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