DEAR TEEN…YOU DESERVE THE GOOD KIND OF LOVE
Everybody needs love yet, young love can be painful too. A recent study showed that both boys and girls are victims of verbal, physical and emotional abuse from their partners. A bigger percentage say that they know a teenage girl who has been forced into sex by their partner while others speak to experiences of friends and relatives who have resorted to self-harm after their partners failed to meet their expectations.
It is wrong for your boyfriend or girlfriend to hit you for any reason. Your partner should also not force you to engage in actions that are detrimental to your health or future. Sex remains a touchy subject for many of us. We rarely talk about it yet it is the one area where many young people have or continue to experience abuse whether knowingly or unknowingly. A study by a local organization shows that sexual abuse is the third most reported violation of children after physical abuse and neglect.
To start at the basics, as a child below 18 years old, the constitution deems you unable to consent to sexual activity. Thus it is against the law for you and your partner to engage in sexual intercourse as you can both get booked for defilement. In a case before the high court, a 16 year old boy had been sentenced to 15 years in jail after he was found engaging in sex with a fellow minor (17 year old girl).
He however appealed the sentence and the judge stated that both the boy and girl had committed an offence against each other. The judge also stated that the boy was discriminated upon on the basis of his gender as both the boy and the girl were minors who could not legally give consent for sex. The judge proceeded to put the boy in probation for six months (though he had already served five month in jail by the time he was being released)
The laws are even tougher if you are dating an adult (a man or woman above 18 years old). As such it often does not matter if you and the adult love each other because the adult is likely to be jailed for defilement. The same goes for parents, siblings and relatives who engage in sexual activity with minors in their families. They not only commit the crime of defilement but also engage in incest which must land them in jail.
Pornography is yet another touchy subject. The Children Act at section 15 provides that you, ‘shall be protected from sexual exploitation and use in prostitution, encouragement or pressure to engage in any sexual activity, and exposure to indecent materials.’ Sending nude photographs of each other is the latest craze yet it carries with it dire consequences if you were to be found engaging in the activity. The same goes for showing to each other or encouraging or forcing another minor to watch pornography. All these activities often look acceptable when you are amongst friends or between you and that person you crush on but they are illegal. As a minor any person (whether a fellow teenager or adult) who engages you in the preparation, production, accessing, selling and distribution of pornography material will be engaging in a criminal offence.
Indeed, the kind of relationships you have today will influence a lot of who you are and who you become in the future. They are likely to influence your attitudes about love and even about yourself. Make it a point of engaging in the healthy ones that bring out the best in you, the kind that nurture that special kind of love that you deserve.