by Peace Kiguwa and Thobeka Nkomo
We come together in our shared interest and work in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) to review a body of work that promises to cast a critical eye on an old terrain of work and knowledge. Mzikazi Nduna’s A Magnifying Glass and A Fine-Tooth Comb: Understanding Girls’ and Young Women’s Sexual Vulnerability is a welcome review of this terrain in SRHR as it pertains to young girls. In this review, we explore her recent monograph on adolescent sexuality intervention models within a Southern African context.
Ten countries make up the southernmost region of sub-Saharan Africa:Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Across Southern Africa, a person under 18 years is regarded as a minor and generally assumed to be in school. Nonetheless, there are differences within and between these countries in terms of what a “child” is permitted or not permitted to do. For example, in Namibia, childhood protection laws include protection of under-14-year-olds against child labour (Welge, 2020). Investigation also notes that matters of adolescent sexual and reproductive health remain neglected in the country and are difficult to consistently attend to, given the differing views on developmental stages of the child and adolescent (Namibian Ministry of Health
and Social Services, 2021). Similarly, it has been noted that many of the policies aimed at adolescent SRHR in Botswana are outdated and rely on assumptions of adolescence that do not address the realities and needs of its young population (UNFPA, 2017–2021). In Zimbabwe, reports indicate that conceptual clarity is required if some adolescents are to not be excluded from the framing of SRHR policies and protection (Remez et al., 2014)
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