Youth: Open Space #13 : SHRH, Population, and Youth
In this Open Space and in the observation of World Population Day (July 11), AYF is providing a platform for youth to discuss the experience accessing a Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services and how it affects the population dynamics in Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia is the region where pre-marital sex behaviour is often frowned upon due to conservative social cultural practices, religious values and laws. This negative perception towards pre-marital sex not only poses a threat to young people’s access to CSE and SRH services but it can also impact the population dynamics that can jeopardize the sustainable development efforts for Southeast Asian societies.
On the 7th of July (Sunday), around 30 youth in Southeast Asia attended the session. The participating youth are coming from 5 countries, which are Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, The Philippines, and Timor Leste.
It was an entirely youth-led discussion, co-hosted by Anu (Singapore), Ricardo (Timor Leste), Sekar (Indonesia) and Wilma (Indonesia).
Youths in the region are facing greater risk of:
- Engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors (i.e., without contraception, multiple partners, under the influence of drugs and alcohol)
- Early and unintended pregnancies
- Unsafe abortion
- STI, including HIV; and
- Forced marriages
Since the adoption of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action in 1994, SRHR has been recognized as one of the cornerstones of population and development programmes where governments are called upon to address the needs of young people’s SRHR to manage its countries’ population dynamics. Population growth, population ageing and decline all affect consumption, production, employment, and also access to health, education, housing, sanitation, water, food and energy.
The world population day “seeks to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues” in relation to “environment and development” issues.” the UN site cited “Rights and choices are the answer: Whether baby boom or bust, the solution to shifting fertility rates lies in prioritizing the reproductive health and rights of all people”
Regardless of the common barriers faced by youths in the region, International human rights treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women which provides protection for life, health, non-discrimination, education, and information are the bases that confirms access to CSE and SRHR services for young people as a fundamental human right.
For a more detailed reading visit :
- CSE in ASIA https://arrow.org.my/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ARROW-RP-CSE-AP-WEB.pdf
- Sex & Rights: the status of young people’s SRHR in Southeast Asia https://arrow.org.my/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Sex-Rights_Status-of-Young-Peoples-SRHR_Monitoring-Report_2012.pdf
- SRH of Unmarried Young People in Asia and the Pacific https://asiapacific.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/SRH%20of%20Ummarried%20Young%20People%20in%20Asia%20Pacific.pdf
- Sustainable Development and Population Dynamics: Placing People at the Centre https://www.unfpa.org/press/sustainable-development-and-population-dynamics-placing-people-centre
- UNFPA 2021 Report on Population (My Body is My Own) https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/SoWP2021_Report_-_EN_web.3.21_0.pdf
Here are some highlights from the session
I'm not satisfied with government policy on Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health, like in Indonesia bills such as RUU PKS are being postponed while everyday, we can see that girls and boys keep being raped. SRHR is for everybody. Kids should be taught about SRHR too. They have the right to say “no” to hugs, kisses, and touch from people.
In the Philippines, talking about sex or sexuality is taboo and I think religion played a great part in it. Majority of the Filipino are Catholics and the Catholic Church are taking part in making it seems like it is taboo/making sure that it is not widely discussed in public.
Lawrence, The Philippines
There’s no education about this topic….I attended private school in primary and junior high school and because of that I got a little bit of education. But after that in the state school, there was no more sexual education - there are not many people who can have access to CSE…I think what we need is laws about sex eduation. It has to reach everyone, in the city but also villages and rural areas.
Sex Education is not going to educational curriculum, but social media that presents it. we learn about sex education precisely from social media.
From what I know from my friends and other people I do understand that there is a focus on CSE, there is a part of a curriculum that addresses that but I would say it’s from a very conservative view point. I think the large focus is on like “don’t do it”. There’s no about, you know, doing it safely, or like if you’re not in a gender-straight relationship like there’s no other kinds of CSE.
without the proper access to CSE and also contraceptives and all that, you know, the young people, and also just every one in all age groups are also prone to you know, just getting the information elsewhere which can be more damaging than helpful.