Comprehensive sexuality education: The Law and Health Alliance calls for the lifting of taboos for the health of young people

Last publication 06/04/2021 at 02:21 min

According to the Law and Health Alliance (ADS) and its 22 member organizations which work to improve the status and health of women and girls in West Africa, the leaders of the sub-region must help lift taboos on debates around the sexuality of young people and adolescents, and to help sexual health education organizations to provide them with useful information for the preservation of their health. This is the message sent on Saturday April 4, 2021, during their Annual Meeting held in Abidjan.

“We are asking the government to make it easier for sexual health education organizations like us to talk about this. May they facilitate our work so that we can integrate comprehensive sexuality education into educational programs. It would really be ideal. But we are already asking them to understand us, to support us, to understand that it is positive for young people, and to welcome us. We have to find a way for young people to have access to this information. This is very important, ”confided Emma Vidal of the organization RAES (African Network for Health Education) in Senegal, an organization member of the Alliance Droit et Santé network. She was among the heads of organizations invited to give the inaugural conference of the Annual Meeting.
At this panel, the various speakers (All women) praised the advantages of opening the debate. It will be about giving advice to young people on sexual health and sexuality. It will be a question of giving young adolescents notions on contraception, early pregnancy, what to avoid. Messages which, according to the organizers, will vary according to the age of the young people. “Studies have shown that not talking about it is not protecting young people. These young people do not know what they are doing. They will take pictures of contraceptives and tell themselves that it works, when it is not even one. So not talking about it is not protecting them. It is even putting them in danger. Of course, we have to find the best way to talk about them while respecting the culture of the country, but we have to talk about them to protect them. (…) The messages vary depending on whether the target is elementary or secondary. In any case, we start from adolescence. It is really in a logic of benevolence. We know that these are taboo questions in our societies, whether at the level of government or at the level of our traditions and religion. So it’s not easy, even to talk about it, ”she lamented.
For those in charge of ADS, the opening of this debate allows young people to avoid, in addition to early pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or even HIV-AIDS.
This Annual Meeting also marks the end of a campaign on sex launched in April 2020 in order, according to them, to challenge political decision-makers on the issue. “We carried out 100 activities in all. Awareness days for young girls on issues related to menstruation, consent, STIs and others. Then, we carried out artistic creation workshops, broadcast messages on community and local radio stations in all the countries of the Alliance, we made video clips of the testimony of young people on their difficulties due to lack of access to ‘information on sexuality,’ said Adam Dicko, a panelist from Mali.

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