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Anti-choice boycott of sexuality education platform in Romania

Adriana Radu, a young feminist activist from Romania launched in 2012 the first independent youth friendly, pro-diversity, sexuality education platform. Her project, Sexul versus Barza (Sex versus Stork) consists of well-informed and nicely crafted videos young people can watch online. Aside from the videos, Adriana also delivers sexuality education sessions both to high-school youth as well as to their teachers.

While Sex versus Stork stirred controversies from its debut, in the past months both Adriana Radu as well as other entities supporting her work such as women’s rights organizations, the SRHR community, the network of libraries (a key collaborator of the project) have been the target of systematic smearing campaigns coordinated by anti-choice groups.

In a number of locations where Sex versus Stork was scheduled for public appearances, a network of 27 anti-choice, homophobic organizations headed by Pro-Vita Romania filed official complaints with local authorities blaming the project and its supporters for corrupting minors, exposing under-aged children to sexually explicit content and for promoting homosexuality. The allegations are of course false and ill-intended, yet to our much surprise, the response of local authorities has been more inclined to side with anti human rights groups and to boycott the project rather then to assess the complaint in a rational manner.

The boycott of a youth friendly sexuality education platform is ever more difficult to grasp as teen pregnancies and unwanted pregnancies remain a serious social issue in Romania. In the past decade the number of teen pregnancies was constant at 10% of annual births and the second largest absolute number in the EU with around 13.000 teen births a year. Without evidence based, youth friendly and comprehensive sexuality education programs the burden of teen pregnancies is unlikely to change for the years to come.

Furthermore, it is perhaps a good time to raise the alarm about the fact that anti-choice groups are gathering increased visibility, strength and credibility within the Romanian society endangering women’s rights and access to sexual and reproductive rights for all.

Source: ALEG

Global Youth Survey for organizations working on condom promotion programmes

The survey for youth-led organizations working with condom promotion! Take 10 minutes of your time to share your organization's experiences in order to identify crucial gaps and possible opportunities for stregthening work in this area.

The results will be presented at a global strategy meeting the first week of November, in Geneva which aims to review the role of condoms and strengthen condom programming in the AIDS response, hosted by USAID, UNFPA and UNAIDS. 

In order to have informed discussions, the PACT, a coalition of 26 youth organizations, and the meeting organizers want to hear from YOU, youth-led organizations on the ground implementing condom activities, projects and/or programmes. 

Please feel free to share it WIDELY to your networks and partner organizations. Please note that in order to be able to present the results during the global strategy meeting we put a deadline, which is: 24th of October.

The survey is available here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/youth_condom_survey

International Day of the Girl Child – realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights helps to end the cycle of violence against adolescent girls

11 October marks the International Day of the Girl Child, adopted at the United Nations General Assembly with resolution 66/170 in 2011, to raise awareness of the girls’ situation worldwide and recognize the need for empowerment and investment in girls. This year the topic of the IDGC is Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence.

Violence against girls and women is a common phenomenon, observed particularly in states where gender stereotypes persist and sexual and reproductive rights are not fully realized. The region of Central and Eastern Europe, which faces the increase of anti-choice initiatives and legal changes restricting access to information and health services, may serve as such inglorious example.

Globally, around 120 million girls experienced a forced sexual intercourse[1]. 7 in 10 girls, who experienced physical and/or sexual violence, have never sought help[2]. Almost 30% of adolescent girls in Central and Eastern Europe states that there are reasons for justification of wife-beating[3]. 32 of every thousand births are unintended adolescent pregnancies[4].

Behind these numbers there are GIRLS, whose lives are affected due to persistent gender inequalities, homophobia, hindering or denying access to reproductive and sexual health service, lack of comprehensive sexuality education and stigmatization of violence survivors.

Experience of violence in private and/or public sphere puts girls’ health and lives at risk. Sexual violence entails serious psychological, physical, emotional and social consequences. It increases the risk of an unintended adolescent pregnancy and exposure to STIs infection, including HIV. Girls are at risk of dropping out of schools and very often are not able to continue education. Common stigma of violence survivors (including violence based on SOGIE) cause alienation of the victim, who doesn’t seek help and has to cope with the consequences alone.

Institutional violence towards girls prevails by blocking their access to sexual and reproductive health package. Still in many states girls cannot access affordable modern contraception and other health care services. Due to age restrictions and/or the need of parental consent when accessing abortion services, girls are denied to make decision on their own.

Comprehensive sexuality education, which is an essential tool to prevent violence, is still unrecognized as a crucial youth right and not implemented in many CEE countries. When introduced at schools in a holistic way, comprehensive sexuality education debunks harmful gender and homophobic stereotypes, promotes gender equality and empowers girls with communication skills helpful in protection from violence. It gives knowledge on reproductive and sexual health. CSE gives crucial information and skills, which enable to counteract violence and contribute to just and equal society.

Investment in girls, which is one of this year’s IDGC messages, means that basic steps such as the realization of sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls must be undertaken. Unless governments and key decision-makers ensure the access to comprehensive information and services on one’s health as well as support for violence victims, girls' lives won’t change.

 

[1],[2],[3] UNICEF, Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children, 2014. Retrieved October 2014 at: 
http://files.unicef.org/publications/files/Hidden_in_plain_sight_statistical_analysis_EN_3_Sept_2014.pdf

[4] UNFPA, Focusing on Adolescents and Youth in Eastern Europe and Central Asia,2014. Retrieved October 2014 at: http://eeca.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/UNFPA_EuroAsia_Factsheet_20140902.pdf

 

 

Constitutional Court of Macedonia – The new abortion law is not anti-constitutional

Macedonia’s Constitutional Court has rejected a challenge to the changed law on terminations, adopted in September 2013, saying the changes do not prohibit abortion but only regulate the procedures. Several NGOs.among them ASTRA member H.E.R.A., had submitted complaints to the Constitutional Court, arguing that the new requirements put undue physical, administrative and time-related pressure on pregnant women. The changes oblige women to file requests for abortions, attend counselling, inform “spouses” of their intention and meet a gynaecologist. The change to the law further prohibits women from having a second abortion within a year.

One of the judges said that the new Law is not against the Constitution and that Republic of Macedonia has specific power of attorney to protect the children and the motherhood “I am against the abortion. For me the abortion is not exclusive right of the mother. It concerns the father, the broader family and the society itself. We should protect the unborn children, which life starts from conception".

H.E.R.A. held a press conference on the issue and published an NGO reaction to this Court statement - read it HERE

For more details click go to Balkan Insight.

Launch of the campaign ‘Youth voice- future we want In Eastern Europe and Central Asia’

The regional campaign focused on youth engagement in Post-2015 agenda ‘Youth voice- future we want In Eastern Europe and Central Asia’ has been launched early October. The goal of the campaign is to ensure that issues concerning young people are recognized in the future development agenda, which can be done only with meaningful youth participation. Young advocates from the region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia are encouraged to mobilize and advocate for the realization of youth priorities related to the Post-2015 development framework . The campaign will also aim to provide comprehensive information on youth in the EECA region and enable the improvement of skills needed for effective advocacy actions. All organizations interested in joining the campaign may express their interest by filling in the form available here.

The campaign is coordinated by Regional Youth Leadership Group composed of several youth regional networks/institutions – in a close collaboration with the Youth Cluster in UNFPA EECARO and UNFPA Country Offices. ASTRA Youth is proud to be one of the organizations coordinating the campaign!

More information on the initiative can be found at the campaign’s FB page: EECA Youth Voice

 

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