Health Protection Agency plan youth services to bridge gap in sexual health education

A sexual health education pilot aimed at young people will be launched in Hulhumalé before the end of this year, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has told Minivan News.

“There is no comprehensive sexual education in the schools,” said the source. “We have to keep talking about these issues, about how to keep young people safe.”

The pilot will provide a comprehensive sexual health and general health service to all young people aged 10-24 years old.

According to the agency’s Reproductive Health Unit (RHU), the the project will attempt to bridge gaps in sexual and reproductive health services for young people.

A member of an established health service provider, who wished to remain anonymous, highlighted age-appropriate guidelines as key barriers to sexual health education.

The comments come after the body of a new-born baby was discovered in a house in Maafanu earlier this week. Local media reported that the 18-year-old mother, currently in police custody, committed infanticide after having hidden her pregnancy.

National Guidelines

The national guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Gender prohibit some elements of sexual health education – including condoms and safe sex – until students are 18-years-old.

“There is a standard which is maintained by the health sector. There are a lot of cultural and religious barriers in providing this information,” the source told Minivan News.

“Unless those issues are not tackled, the stigma in accessing [health education] will not happen.”

Reticence in the health sector is mirrored in the family sphere, argued the source, who stated that family members are reluctant to speak candidly with their children about sexual health.

“There are some views of parents that if you talk about sexual health, they might go and do it.”

With no accurate information from schools or parents, the student will often turn to peers or the internet for support on sexual health, noted the source, which results in the rapid spread of mis-information.

Religious barriers

Under the 2008 constitution the Maldives is a 100 percent Muslim country, with national guidelines surrounding sexual and reproductive health being strongly influenced by religion.

A report conducted by the Department of National Planning in 2013 concluded that religious beliefs had been the reason behind an increase in trends such as a preference for home schooling, refusal of vaccination and other medical services for women.

Expressing a similar view, the health sector source noted that religion had contributed to some of the barriers in delivering sexual and reproductive health education.

“That’s a huge barrier actually on sexual health education, because there’s certain beliefs on providing information, or on family planning, on safe abortion,” stated the source.

“They [religious scholars] have a lot of myths related to sexual reproductive health.”

The source suggestion that there is support for the assimilation of religion into sexual health education delivery, but that disagreements between religious scholars had meant that progress was slow.

Next steps

The RHU project is underpinned by the imminent release of their new guidelines, National Standards for Adolescent and Youth Friendly Health Services for Young People.

These guidelines outlines the key standards for health education for all young people aged 10 – 24 years, ensuring that they will “enter the productive age in the fullest possible wellbeing.”

Noting the closure of previous similar projects, such as the Youth Health Café, the RHU noted that there are a number of difficulties in launching a new healthcare service.

The RHU source also wished to remain anonymous, reflecting the strong emotions provoked by discussion of sex education.

“Convincing people to initiate something in health facility is not easy,” they stated.

“It will be difficult. At present it is very difficult, unless the person is coming seeking the services it is difficult.”

When asked if they felt that young people are getting the right information at the right age, RHU representatives responded with a firm “no”.

“Not all. They are not getting that information. As far as access, there is no access.”

Issues regarding a lack of support services for sexual and reproductive health in the Maldives have been well-documented in the past.

A report entitled ‘Maldives Operational Review for the ICPD Beyond 2014‘, carried out by the Department of National Planning (DNP), claimed that incidents of infanticide and unsafe abortions are symptoms of a lack of sexual education in young Maldivians.

The report identified, “clear indicators of the imperative need to provide access to information on sexual reproductive health and reproductive health services to the sexually active adolescents

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“Make them accountable”: young Maldivians talk democracy at documentary launch

Six local students – part of a nine person delegation that earlier this year visited key political institutions in the UK – were today invited to share their experiences and views of challenges facing the Maldives’ parliamentary system when compared to its counterparts around the world.

“In many other countries, if there is a hint of a scandal about an MP they will resign or find themselves pressured out,” said one of the female delegates. “Here, many take the attitude of ‘I don’t care’. We need to make [politicians] accountable.”

It was a response met with genial laughter during a discussion event held in the conference room of the Trader’s Hotel in Male’ this afternoon – a good natured meeting that at times seemed to belie the frank concerns raised by the young delegates.

Accountability was just one of the issues concerning democratic development noted by the six-person panel, who all spoke at the launch of a new documentary of their experiences at the ‘UK Youth Exchange’.

The project – run in conjunction with Democracy House and the British High Commission in Colombo – saw delegates travel to major UK cities to meet senior political figures and NGOs in order to better understand issues of democratic development across the Commonwealth.

The participants included Mohamed Axam Maumoon, Aishath Loona Moosa, Shahaadha Ahmed, Sharoona Adil, Shinah Saeed and Abdulla Shahid. The trip was also attended by Ibrahim Nawaf, Hassan Qassan and Muhaisina Hassan, who were not present at today’s launch.

The corresponding documentary titled ‘A study tour to London’, which is aimed to be aired and local television as well as across social media platforms at a later date, detailed a ten day visit to the UK cities of Bristol and London to experience UK and Commonwealth democratic institutions.

Participants also took part in workshops with the British Youth council, Young Muslims Advisory Group and the Commonwealth parliamentary association, as well as joining in “parliamentary-style” debates with UK school children.

Having since returned to the Maldives, the delegates raised concerns over the lack of a sense of ownership of the country, the limited educational opportunities outside of Male’, and gender inequality.

Another issue raised concerned civic education in areas such as privatisation, taxation, and public healthcare with the launch of Aasandha scheme earlier this year.

One of the participants highlighted problems with infrastructure development, bemoaning a seeming lack of public ownership among Maldivian people. He believed this had resulted from a lack of discussions and opportunities for the public to have their say in advocating how state developments were being decided.

“The youth here also have no dialogue with authorities,” he said. “No one feels the country belongs to us, be it land or infrastructure. There needs to be greater sense of ownership and responsibility.”

Other delegates raised fears over discrimination, particularly towards women working at the country’s resorts.

“There is a lot of discrimination here. It is seen as unacceptable for women to work at resorts. Why? Why should this be the case? There are lots of opportunities here,” she added.

Another delegate noted the need for reform of the country’s curriculum during the event, especially in order to take into account the changes the country had undergone since its first democratic elections were held back in 2008.

“All Maldivians should know about democracy. We need civic education,” he said.

The delegate queried how the entire country was being educated, criticising a lack of focus on critical thinking in areas such as privatisation, taxation and healthcare.

“Many people still don’t know what taxes are. What benefits there are from tax. What universal healthcare is. I could go on,” he added, to the amusement of the audience made up partly of dignitaries representing both the government and key civil society organisations including the UN and local media.

As part of the UK visit, two other participants talked of their experiences “shadowing” UK parliamentarians, claiming the country appeared to have a much stronger level of youth involvement within local governance.

“Here in the Maldives there is no youth involvement. The youth is seen as representing 18 to 35 year olds,” said one of the delegates.

“In other countries, youth are seen as representing the ages between 12 and 21, but here our parents require us to concentrate only on our studies, they do not see us as being mature enough [for politics],” they added.

The participants also spoke of the custom UK MPs had of visiting their constituencies to meet with the people they represent.

“I highly doubt MPs are visiting their constituencies here,” one of the delegates added.

“Different cultures and religions”

Among the dignitaries at the launch was Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen, a resort owner and philanthropist, who thanked the British High Commission project for allowing the Maldivian delegates to “explore different cultures and religions in the cosmopolitan city of London.”

“You would be great teachers to our politicians,” he claimed in a speech addressing the concerns raised by the six delegates.

“These messages should go to our real politicians. I’m not a real politician. But I wish today that more MPs were here. I’m informed they were invited. It’s important to listen to people. The government are the servants of the people.”

Deen claimed that politicians in the country were failing to listen to the voting public, while he also bemoaned the attitudes in the country that blamed young people and gangs for crime and murder without considering factors leading them to commit such acts.

“The problem with leaders is we try too hard to stay in power, but we often forget about our successors,” he said. “We don’t create leaders for tomorrow.”

The vice president said he aimed to do his utmost to take each of the delegates’ concerns and address them in the cabinet, pointing especially to the need for political sciences, civic education programmes and an understanding of the country’s constitution.

“Otherwise, what are we teaching?” Deen asked, this time without laughter from the gathered audience.

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“Very bad” time for Maldivian youth: Parties talk crime, activism and opportunity

Ahead of an election contesting the first presidency for the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) youth arm later this month, standing candidates and opposition politicians claim the country is at a critical juncture to ensure its largest demographic is not denied a voice and role a within national development.

The MDP is trying to attract a sizable youth vote in the next election, and has mimicked the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) by establishing a Youth Wing to outline policies and opinion from the perspective of younger voters. Serving opposition party youth representatives claim that the country’s twenty-somethings are keen supporters of hard line measures to offset fears of gang culture and its perceived prominence among their peers.

Alongside the upcoming elections for MDP President scheduled for April 30, members will also be given a vote for selecting a candidate to represent young people in the party.

The candidates include Hussain Waheed, serving councilor for Medhu Henveiru Lufshan Shakeeb in Male’, and former Minivan News journalist now working in the President’s Office,  Aminath Shauna.

According to Shauna, statistics show that the largest age group in the Maldives is represented by 20 to 24 years of age, followed closely by citizens aged between 25 to 29 years. Despite this apparent numerical prominence, she believes that for over 30 years there have been a scarce number of programmes to prepare young people of working age to responsibly lead initiatives or to take part in higher education beyond a minority of people, setting back the role of young people in the Maldives democratic transition.

For MP Ahmed Malouf, who is responsible for the Youth Wing for the opposition DRP, the appointment comes at a “very bad” period of time for young Maldivians, particularly in relation to gang violence and crime.

The DRP MP told Minivan News that after having previously spent nine years in the Ministry of Youth, he believed that long-standing gang violence between young people in the country had further intensified of late, creating an environment that have made the streets of Male’ unsafe for both local people and foreigners at night.

Mahloof said that having spoken and met with a wide sway of young people from across Maldivian society, the issue of gang violence had arisen as a foremost challenge to his work as Youth Wing head for the DRP.

“We need to find a way to save young people and give them a way out of this [gang] lifestyle,” he said. “Often they become trapped and are unable to get out even if they want to.”

As part of his attempts to appeal to young voters, Mahlouf said he has pressed ahead with promoting tighter legislation. This legislation includes an amendment sent to parliament last month to alter the age by which young people were recognised by the law as an adult to 16, as opposed to the current age of 18.

The MP has claimed the amendments, which have attracted criticism from some human rights bodies, were designed to try and reduce youth crime by ensuring young people suspected of engaging in serious crimes would be treated as adults and face full responsibility for their actions.

”The purpose of changing the age is due to the significant increase in the involvement of minors in crimes sinister in nature, and they cannot be sentenced to the full extent as they are considered minors,” said Mahlouf after announcing his proposed amendments. ”Although they are considered as minors, they are sometimes very dangerous.”

In addition, Mahlouf said he has also forwarded amendments to the Act on the Prohibition of Gang Violence to the Majlis in an attempt to remove the right for suspects linked to police investigations into gang violence to remain silent and for release from custody, providing judges with the power to enforce such restrictions.

To try and finalise these aims, the DRP Youth Wing head claimed that he did not wish to politicise the need to address gang issues and was calling on Maldivians to pressurise all parliamentarians – regardless of party – to pass pending legislation relating to crime needed to curb what he believed was a worsening gang situation.

Mahlouf claimed that having consulted with young artists, including local musicians, he was aware there were also issues of a lack of alternative amenities and youth centres available for young people to engage in nationally.

“From what I have seen things are going backward here. Young people I have spoken to, including musicians in rock bands, say they are fed up,” he said. “Services aren’t being delivered and gang violence is at a very high level, we need to talk with them and find solutions.”

Although critical of the role that the Ministry of Human Resources, Youth and Sports was playing in trying to overcome these alleged concerns, Mahlouf conceded that government and parliament alone could not shoulder the responsibility to overcome gang problems, claiming parents and families also needed to take responsibility and a role.

From an MDP perspective, Shauna claimed that she believed the party, through activism and campaigning, had been a vital part of bringing young people into national politics through democratic reform over the last few years. However, she conceded that the sufficient challenges facing young people in the Maldives had meant it was now vital to address the difficulties beyond partisan political thinking.

“The time is now to act. We have to put pressure on the government. We have to put pressure on political parties, on the MDP, the National Council and everyone to help us develop a youth programme to make us better people and a part of the whole [national] development process,” she said. “We have to provide opportunities and make sure there are things besides going to work and drinking cups of coffee everyday. What I mean specifically is that we have to have entertainment opportunities as well as jobs.”

“Desperately needed”

Shauna claimed that rather than being seen as a token position within the party, the MDP Youth president was “desperately needed” to play a vital role in outlining policies for young voters that directly affect their future – something she believed was currently missing from the party.

“Over 50 percent of the MDP’s membership is under the age of 35, so we cannot move forward without their opinions, without their input and without really developing people of our age,” she said.

“The few people who make decisions are older and they are not the majority of the country. This is alright, but then again you have the middle management sector who are not very prepared to do what is needed right now,” Shauna added. “There is so much work to do in terms of nation building and state building to do. Yet the majority of the civil service are saying that they have just barely finished high school. This is the kind of environment that we are having to develop from. It is a hard thing to do and a lot of the time, younger people are only doing simple things, administrative things, like drafting letters, that is it.”

At present, Shauna claimed that even in politics, the involvement of young people was generally consigned to putting up posters and going out on the streets, while there remained an apparent lack of activism and representatives responsibly speaking out about the needs of their peers in relation to developing democracy and human rights.

“Very few young people have been trained or have been given the tools to achieve these things,” she said.”I think it’s imperative that we have a voice and a group that advocates for training, scholarships and entertainment opportunities. Unfortunately the only thing that is discussed about youth is the violence and the drugs and crime.”

Shauna’s fellow MDP Youth Wing candidates, Hussain Waheed and Lufshan Shakeeb, were contacted to outline their positions but had not responded to Minivan News at time of press.

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Rehabilitation and housing vital to combat Male’s youth crime, say police

The Maldives Police Service has backed claims by the country’s Housing Minister that congested living conditions in Male’ are proving to be a major contributor to ongoing youth crime, though the organisation adds that addressing the issue of rehabilitation for young offenders is just as big a concern.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Ahmed Shiyam accepted that high levels of congestion resulting from large numbers of people travelling and settling in the capital has led to little living space for many youngsters, who are being left to aimlessly roam the capital’s streets.

The comments follow claims last week by Home Minister Mohamed Shihab suggesting that escalating crime rates in the capital were a result of insufficient housing conditions that have made young people more susceptible to criminal activity out whilst in Male’.

“When we were young, we could play indoors. We did not have to go out. Now we are forced to go out and meet up with a gang and are caught up in a hassle,” Shihab was reported as saying in Haveeru. “Crime-free places do not exist now. But our living conditions are forcing us to walk into gangs.”

In response to these comments, Shiyam said that the capital is becoming increasingly cramped as more and more people travel to Male’ from outlying islands for work, often leaving young people little alternative than to head out aimlessly onto the streets. It is this aimlessness that the police spokesperson claims young people are increasingly telling officers was the main reason for them running into trouble with the law.

While not every person out on the streets is prone to taking part in criminal acts, in cases where an individual is convicted of involvement in civil disturbances, Shiyam noted that accruing a criminal record for drugs or other civil offences can make it extremely difficult to secure jobs or rehabilitation in the future.

He added that the country’s police force alone is not able to combat these issues, it has launched some programmes in an attempt to rehabilitate young men of between 12 to 14 years of age that have been involved in criminal or possible gang activity.

Some of the schemes being adopted by the police included literally taking young offenders off the streets of Male’ to more secluded island environments in attempts to try and engage different types of learning and cultural experiences.

“Sometimes when we take [young people] to separated and secluded islands, we find these boys do not even know how to pray,” he added.

The police spokesperson explained that additional skills such as computing, photography and art are also being taught to try and encourage a more productive or practical interest in society.

Shiyam claimed the police were having “great success” in running these rehabilitation and activity programmes with young people, although similar programmes with older offenders were not yet being undertaken.

He added that government institutions such as the Ministry of Human Resources Youth and Sports also have similar mandates for providing rehabilitation and activity programmes to try and ensure that young people have options available to them. For those that do get in trouble with the law, the police spokesperson says he remains hopeful that more projects to try to train and rehabilitate young people will be put into practice in the next few years.

It is not just local authorities that are concerned about the impact of Male’s congested housing on young people.

Executive Producer for the Maldives Nation Broadcast Corporation (MNBC)’s Youth TV service, Ibrahim Muaz, said he agreed that congested housing conditions in the capital were certainly exacerbating unrest and discontent among young people.

However, Muaz added that “it was unfair to marginalise young people as the sole perpetrators of crime in the Maldives.”

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Comment: Maldives no paradise for victimised young people

The Maldives is often described as ‘paradise’ or ‘heaven’, or is often described as the most peaceful and most beautiful nation in the world.

We have white sandy beaches, coconut palm trees hanging their leaves to the sea, as seen in the pictures, and the charming view of the sunset.

And this nation is also largely considered by the international community to be one of the best countries for freedom and rights.

Now let’s take a glance inside the so-called ‘paradise’ and see what we find. I am a Maldivian and I love this nation with all my heart. However, the truth will remain as the truth, although most of them try to hide it… forgive me and my words as I continue.

The constitution of the Maldives is just a bunch of words put together in a book with a green cover. In other words, its just an image portrayed to the international community, to show them how much the government pays attention for the rights of the citizens and for the freedom of the citizens. And also to show how democratic the society is.

Believe it or not, we do not have even one third of the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the constitution.

Seeing the chapter on freedom and rights – the second chapter of the constitution – brought comfort to a lot of citizens. Well, it did comfort the citizens before we realised it is guaranteed not for the poor ordinary citizens, but only for the wealthy and high-profile people of the nation.

More than half of the youth are into drugs, one way or another. Either dealing it or using it. You all know this is to be true.

The police have no idea how to deal with this issue. The only solution they apply is intimidation, harsh words, handcuffs and batons.

As a matter-of-fact, police have developed a nasty habit of arresting kids roaming the streets.

Police keep these arrested kids in detention for 23 hours and releases them presenting them face justice. Where is the article 45 of the constitution? Article 45: “Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained, arrested or imprisoned.”

I would like to tell Commissioner of Police Mohamed Faseeh that this is not helping. In fact, it makes the situation of Male’ worse day by day. They cannot be stopped using that method. Think twice Mr Faseeh. If it could prevent the crimes, there would be no more gangs in Male’ because every time police conduct operations, hundreds are arrested and released. The ultimate price of it is ‘nothing’.

Most of the arrested kids are presented with wide opportunities to engage in crimes and gangs during their 23 hours stay behind the bars. The people they meet behind the bars become very friendly.

I have witnessed, on more than one night, kids sitting in public areas being arrested on no charges and being released after 23 hours without being presented to court. Their whole life shatters after being victimised by such a police ‘special operation’.

His family disowns him for bringing disgrace to the family. What other choice does he have? Other than joining the friends police forced him to meet behind the bars?

These kids are helpless. They live in tiny little congested houses with their entire family. They have no place to lie down inside their homes. That forces them to roam around, to sit on public benches. But if they get arrested while sitting there, where is the article 32 of the constitution? Article 32: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly without prior permission of the State.”

I have seen some of them refusing arrest as they have not committed any offense. However, the police warns them they have the power to arrest, and that for demanding for their freedom and rights, one can be arrested for 23 hours.

Our little green book includes the phrases “unlawful arrest” and “unlawful order”. Article 64: “No employee of the State shall impose any orders on a person except under authority of a law. Everyone has the right not to obey an unlawful order.”

In the meantime, the real gangsters have been at large. They have been progressing their work and have built nests not only in the capital city Male’ but also in other islands. It is public knowledge. As a result, there has been a significant and notable increase in the crime rate across the islands very recently.

Crimes are increasing at a steady rate. Gangs spreading their work nationwide.

It’s about time the police took appropriate measures on this issue for sake of the future of our next generation. The political parties and MPs can’t deal with these issues as they are too busy with their own wars.

The law enforcing agency’s pathetic manner of dealing with the issue will never solve it either. The police may think their aggressiveness and hostile actions towards these boys will assist them. If you think so, you’ve got it so wrong.

It only encourages them to challenge the police. If the police confront them thisway, I am sure they would never give up, they would rather suffer a broken rib. Hostile action and aggressiveness is not the answer to our problems. The other day you release them, they will be out there again.

Police officers also need to improve their own ethics before they are sent out to correct others’ mistakes. I have met females who complain that it is common practice for police officers patrolling the streets to stop by and whistle at young woman on the streets. To me that’s inexplicably disgraceful.

Police officers speak rudely, to show people they are powerful. Yes, you are and we know that. We wonder how many lives of innocent kids you will ruin before you catch one single criminal.

The wisest of us Maldivians would leave the country. Do not even think of the word ‘enjoy’ while you are living here. One could be arrested for having a chat with a friend in a public place. When the police say jump, you just ask “how high?”.

The articles stated in our constitution are very sophisticated, but we do not get to taste the sweetness of it. Article 63 of the constitution states: “Any law or part of any law contrary to the fundamental rights or freedoms guaranteed by this Chapter shall be void or void to the extent of such inconsistency.”

So I doubt if the police law is valid. I do not know what will be your perspective. I just exercise my right to express my opinion when I feel it’s time.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]

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Comment: Lack of educational opportunity cripples aspirations of young people

With my initiative to make a better day for youth and women of the Maldives, I have travelled across the nation to bring them whatever opportunities I can to open the door for youth to ease the entry into the working world.

I have developed a very large network of communities made up of parents, NGOs, leaders, women groups and youth themselves, engaged aid agencies and institutions that provided funding support, and liaised with resorts to link youth with on-the-job training and employment.

In this article I am giving my experience, my impression and my opinion of youth in the Maldives today. There is no blame or judgment and I hope that readers will be willing to share their experiences and constructive suggestions on how to provide youth a better environment in the Maldives.

Youth across the islands of Maldives are not sheltered from the realities of the adult world because young people leave school early, leaving behind the relative shelter of the school community.

Most of them do not progress to the last couple of years of school, and many leave the final year with hardly any acceptable standard of qualification.

Most early school leavers and secondary graduates (with low grades) are associated with disadvantaged circumstances.

These disadvantages can be defined as lack of choices or opportunities caused by poverty, geographic isolation, community support structures and social alienation and the result of centralised governance that has not catered to the needs of island people.

The lack of ability of teachers (whom also lack resources to support students) and skills to teach young people is a direct cause of student failure and offsets serious personality problems in young people. Whatever few opportunities there are in the islands are further obstructed by the lack of English language skills required for learning.

These disadvantages lead to low school achievement, aggressive and anti-social behavior, poor self-esteem and low expectations, unemployment, feeling powerless or isolated, withdrawal and loss of ability to communicate.

These young people are vulnerable to health problems and prey for illegal activities. Their lifestyle is that of any young person who wants to show a cool personality: smoking, late nights hanging around, cool speech, ‘don’t care’ attitude, cool clothing (if they can afford it). Underneath: extremely sensitive, wanting respect, dignity and direction.

The longer these young people hang around after leaving school without further studies and disciplined activities, the more vulnerable they become.

The gap between 15 and 18 years needs to be filled with schooling towards further or higher education. Presently the life of a young Maldivian in the islands is often aimless and lacks the stimulating environment that young people need to thrive.

The Labor Law of the Maldives does not make it any easier for the young Maldivian, although I am not advocating or criticising the Law.

Young people who leave school in the islands at the age of 15 years do not have much choice to continue their education. In principle they cannot be employed either.

While our programs provide an opportunity for young people to acquire skills for entry level jobs, potential employers are hesitant (and understandably so) to take under-age trainees as apprentices.

The conditions affect young women just as much as young men, however the outcomes are slightly different in my opinion.

While a young man is aggressively judged for his low performance, low achievement of a young woman is less of an issue. Young women joining our vocational training classes indicate their will to learn and interestingly are better achievers compared to their male colleagues, but are often stopped by parents and brothers.

Beliefs and attitude play a big role in this, and in the confusion of what is possible and what is right, the prevailing norms and insecurities take over resulting in young women’s opportunities being compromised.

Many young men join our classes because it is the only opportunity to walk through an open door. Young men and women’s motivation to get married early is evidently the results of nothing else to do in the community.

Boys are expected to have future employment and young women have limited aspirations for their future lives and work. With such limited personal aspirations and goals, marriage may appear to be an attractive option for these young women. Being a wife gives a young woman a role and often a deceptive one. Unfortunately being a husband does not change much for a young man who has not understood the responsibilities and commitments that go along with marriage.

The fact is that young people cross the threshold to adult life without having experienced youth.

Aminath Arif is the founder of SALAAM School.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]mail.com

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