Statistics. Or, estatystix as 76.3% of Sudnese like to call it. I have always had a cautious and calculated relationship with Statistics, due largely in part to the rampant abuse of statistical figures. However, I have come across a statistic today that not only shook me to my core, but seriously altered my view of the situation in Sudan. Are you ready for the statistics?
The 2006 United Nations Children’s Fund Short-Duration Country Programme document–which was presented to the UN Executive and Economic council—reports the following:
“A recent study in the North found that 90 per cent of young people aged 19-24 years are sexually active but less than 10 per cent of them know how to prevent HIV or how and why to use condoms. In Southern Sudan, infection rates of over 20 per cent are being recorded at some voluntary and confidential counseling and testing (VCCT) sites.”
Ninety percent. Ninety. Dez3een berzent ya zol. I really wish this was something that I can dismiss as a bunch of hooey, but I tend to believe the UN. 90%. How could that be? In recent years, I have heard a lot about the fact that many young people in Sudan are now sexually active, which was incredibly shocking to me. As a Sudanese girl living abroad, I was ignorant about the young social scene in Sudan. Not only was I completely disconnected from the young culture, and new social norms, but I was also extremely misinformed about how Sudanese youngsters/teenagers are. If you casually scan the streets of Sudan, you will find most girls dressed modestly, either because she wears the hijab willingly, or she is pretending that the piece of fabric around her neck is hijab (further criticism of that situation coming soon.) The men seem sweet, decent, and even though a lot of them do not adhere to the “ladies first rule,” they do seem pretty decent.
That is what I love about Sudan. That is what I know about Sudan. So how is it, that this same population of people has a 90% sexual activity rate? I would like to venture a guess in defense of the staggering statistic and say that since the age group is 19-24, then it must be primarily made up of married people. While there might be some truth to that, I do not actually know many Sudanese people who are married before 24, females or males. Married people might account for some of that statistic, but 90% is clearly inclusive of most people. I really had no idea. The Hajirs, Azzas, Najlas, and Saras of Sudan seem to be getting busy with the Mujtabas, Mohameds, Alis, and Ammars. Now, when I get over my shock about the 90% Statistic, I will discuss the sickening and truly frightening statistic: only 10% know how or why to use condoms. *shudder*