2.10 Answers to activities

Activity 2.6: A child’s privacy versus parental rights

  1. A 16-year-old would generally have the capacity to understand the implications of the help she is seeking. You might want to discuss with her why she needs contraception. Is she in a regular sexual relationship? Is she aware of the possible health risks?

    You might want to be sure that any sexual relationship is consensual and that she is not being forced into unwanted sex. While you do not want to encourage a young girl to engage in early sexual activity, you also need to be mindful that if she is already sexually active, it is better that she is properly protected.

  2. You will need to find out exactly what the law says on the right of a 16-year-old to give consent to treatment. At what age does this right transfer from the parent to the child? Is there any legal obligation to report to parents? If not, then you need to consider the right of the girl to make her own choices and to be provided with information and help.
  3. You should take the girl’s request seriously and respectfully. Whether you are able to provide the information and services to her while respecting her confidentiality and privacy will depend on the law. However, consultations with children and young people in East Africa indicate that many young girls feel that, when they seek help of this nature, they are treated rudely and this discourages them from seeking help.

    You should recognise that in asking for contraceptive advice the girl is behaving responsibly. If the law allows, you should provide her with the help she needs without passing judgement on her behaviour. If you feel she is at risk of sexual abuse or violation, then you should discuss this with her, and explore referring the situation to the appropriate authorities.

2.9 Self-assessment questions

3 The right to health