Edn on sex, relationship rule the 3rd day of Family planning confce
Bali, Indonesia: Say it Asia, Latin America or Africa, the young people face deprivation of information and services related to sexual or reproductive health.
Social, cultural or religious norms, especially in the developing and middle-income countries, provide an environment where these issues are taboo.
And, that leads to a situation where demands for family planning methods from the youths are seen unethical or illegal – a state that seriously violates the rights of the youths, the leaders of tomorrow.
The issues featured prominently on the third day of the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) being held at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre in Indonesia.
Take the cue from Ayesha Memon, a young leader of Pakistan, who researched on impacts of cultural barriers in rural Pakistan.
‘In rural Pakistan, the society is very much patriarchal. Every single decision is taken by the men. This leads to men’s preference for baby boys,’ she said at a press conference.
It was found that for one baby boy, a couple is taking seven to eight children, and then they are left uneducated and unhealthy in Pakistan, she said, explaining how lack of sexual and reproductive knowledge leads to social and economic problems.
‘Parents don’t allow girls to talk about sex, but they allow the ten-year girls to marry men,’ she said, adding that sometimes teen girls are forced to prostitution.
Rokonol Rabbi, a young leader from Bangladesh, told this correspondent talking about sex, condoms, menstrual hygiene among the adolescents in Bangladesh is almost a taboo.
‘Including them in family planning education is extremely important. Otherwise, it leads to deprivation and isolation, which causes psychological, physical and even economic losses,’ he told this correspondent.
Experts said sex beyond marital status among the youths, even in the developing nations, is a reality, while unsafe sex caused by information gap on reproductive health leads to early marriage, unintended pregnancy and diseases like HIV/AIDS.
‘The issue of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights is not just one about information; it is fundamentally interlaced with intersectional issues of social justice, finance and poverty alleviation,’ said Nomtika Mjwana, a young leader from South Africa.
It is essential to look at strategies that can inform and educate young girls and empower them not to see themselves as objects waiting for men, but as women with pride and the agency to decide what they need to do with their own bodies, she said.
More than 40 leading global health organizations at the conference committed to a new global consensus statement to expand contraceptive choices for young people.
‘This consensus statement is our way of calling on the global community – national governments, civil society, and local communities alike – to ensure that LARCs [long-acting reversible contraceptives] are available and accessible to sexually active adolescents and youth, without barriers or bias,’ said Dr Purnima Mane, CEO of Pathfinder International.
According to the Pathfinder, a significant number of the world’s 1.8 billion adolescents and youth are sexually active and want to prevent or delay a pregnancy for multiple years.
Katja Iversen, CEO of New York-based charity Women Deliver, said the youths need to be brought to the tables of policymaking.
‘Otherwise, they would be on the menu.’