A lot has been said lately about the need for conversations with our children with regards to sex education. The main focus being that because of our cultural boundaries, there seems to be a lack of or rather an almost avoidance of conversation or discussion about what sex is; the consequences; the responsibility and the repercussions. A recent viral video of young people engaging in sexual activity had the entire country and also Fijian expats living abroad in a frenzy and as usual it turned for the worse when the minor in the video was subjected to slut-shaming and victim blaming, not only by her peers but also adults. So the question is, is a frank and open discussion about sex and the physical aspect of it enough to deal with the ongoing problem that young people or rather women, both young and old face nowadays in our society which then leads to the increase in sexual offences such as assault and defilement, rape, domestic violence, cyber-bullying, invasion of privacy.. the list goes on.
I can understand why the cultural setting of a traditional Fijian family would make it difficult for parents to have these open discussions. Coming from one myself, we never had conversations about sex and what it entailed and all information that we got as children more or less in my experience made sex an almost dirty word and one not to be spoken out loud. It's no surprise that my earlier experiences of being in a relationship was one that was entered into naively and filled with ignorance as to what the sexual aspect of a relationship required and the burden of trying to understand and weigh out the consequences of my decisions as a young adult, clearly made what should have been a mutually respectful and loving relationship anything but. I don't hold any grudges against my parents for this lack of discussion, as like most Fijian parents of their era, they did the best that they could based on the knowledge they had from their own upbringing. One thing I've learnt as a parent is that there's no right way, it's a learning experience that never ends. I guess in a way our extended family way of life does backfire on us as we feel almost bound to be judge and jury on publicised videos or pictures of people engaging in sexual act, because we see it as a threat to our family morals and our religious beliefs, so we lash out at the parties involved and personalise our attacks. What I found worrying though was how candidly people shared the recent viral video without pausing to think that the video was of a minor and by doing so, they were engaging in distribution of what is essentially child pornographic material.
What then is to become of our children and the current status quo on how we seem to want to ignore that young people are sexually active at a young age? Do we carry on burying our head in the sand only to reappear whenever someone else's child is being used as scapegoat to allow us to stand on our moral high-ground and berate them for their choices? We pride ourselves on being a country so deeply entrenched in our faith and yet whenever there is a case which involves girls and women of all ages, the burden of fault is thrown entirely on them and excuses are made to justify the actions of the perpetrator, which in most cases are boys or men. I sincerely hope that parents take the time to have these much needed conversations with their children and in doing so allow the conversation to be led from a place of non-judgement, love and understanding so that young people are not led by curiosity when making choices but rather by informed choices that allows them to feel secure and safe that whatever it may be, they will have the support of their loved ones.
Peace & love always,