Condom dispensers will soon be installed at local university campuses countrywide in an effort to promote safe sex.
The dispensers are the initiative of the Ohhh! Foundation, a German-based youth organisation which aims to empower young individuals to explore, embrace and experience their sexual identities safely and respectfully in an ever-changing time.
Ohhh! is short for organisation of human health and happiness.
Executive director of the Ohhh! Foundation, Daniel Nagel, recently said it is important to ensure that the youth have access to information and resources on safe sex and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
« We need to destigmatise the use of condoms, and ensure that youth have access to information and resources on safe sex and STIs. The installing of these dispensers does not mean that we are encouraging sex. We are, however, aware that young people are having sex, and would like to ensure that they do it safely, » he stated.
Nagel was speaking at a youth engagement hosted at the Unam main campus by the #BeFree movement in partnership with Youth Against AIDS with students from the Unam Khomasdal Campus, the International University of Management and the Namibia University of Science and Technology.
Also present at the event was First Lady Monica Geingos, who pointed to the unnecessary stigma attached to access to condoms.
« We tend to associate risky sexual behaviour to people who are loud and more outspoken, but the reality has proven that that is not always the case. Young girls aged between 16 and 24 have a three times higher chance of contracting HIV than their peers. This can be due to intergenerational relationships and transactional sexual relations, » Geingos added.
The youthful panel, which consisted of students and activists, shared that people are sexual beings, and should not be uncomfortable talking about sex. Universities should thus help create platforms to provide young people with information to ensure safe sex.
#BeFree, an initiative of Geingos, is a non-judgemental, youth-focused dialogue platform which has served as a leading facilitator of difficult conversations, information-sharing and linking young people to services.
The Ohhh! Foundation has also established another organisation called Youth against AIDS, a podcast, and an artificial intelligence-based chatbot on a platform that provides young people with reliable group-tailored information.
According to the United Nations Population Fund’s statistics of 2020, Namibia has a young population with two-thirds below the age of 35 years. The national teenage pregnancy rate stands at 19%, which means that about every fifth woman aged 15 to 19 has begun childbearing.