Just as I entered my house after a long day at work, my niece of 14 years cut short our pleasantries with a question that consumed my sluggishness: “Auntie, does that mean it is okay to have a boyfriend when in school?” With a frown face, I interjected with a strong willed reply: “Of course no, my dear! The best time is when you have finished your studies.” It’s then that my niece brought my attention to a disturbing family planning advert!
It is with sadness that a national TV can accept to broadcast an advert whose content is not only appalling, but also misleading! There is an advert running on most of the local TV stations showing a couple of young people that looked under 18 years of age consulting a health worker about family planning methods. According to the Uganda laws, a person under 18 years of age is a minor.
The same advert depicts that these young people are still schooling, and to my dismay, when the mother of one of them finds out about their relationship, she expresses some level of dissatisfaction, but when she later finds out that they are on family planning, she ignores and lets them to be!
This advert literally permits defilement, fornication and unprofessional-ism depicted by the fact that even the health worker administers a family planning method to young people and later the mother acts more irresponsibly by not condemning these children’s mischief even when they are still in school. Much as teenage pregnancy rates are worrying, HIV prevalence rates are equally appalling, hence none should be ignored when promoting the other. Much as sensitising the people about family planning methods is okay, the way the message is packaged matters.
The advert also doesn’t consider other challenges that come with having unprotected sex such as contracting HIV and school dropout due to under age marriages, which are equally dangerous to young people. Perhaps the advert could have been okay if they used a married couple in the same advert. There are better ways of doing things. To the media, aren’t such adverts or messages supposed to be scrutinised and sieved before they are aired?
Carol Nyangoma Mukisa,