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Is there sexuality education in Armenia?

One of the most pressing SRHR issues in Armenia is the lack of comprehensive sexual education in schools. There are around half a million adolescents and youth live in Armenia,[1] and it is very crucial that every one of them is properly educated and aware of their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Article 5of the RA Law on Reproductive Health and Reproductive Rights refers to the adolescents’ right to acquire sexuality education.[2] Article 5.2 of the same law states: ''Adolescents' sexual education in secondary schools and in other educational institutions should be carried out by professionally trained persons in close cooperationwith families, health services, non-governmental organizations and the public''.[3] Despite the fact that sexual education is enshrined in this legal document as a right of adolescents, it is de facto poorly implemented in Armenia.

Some small sections of sexual education are covered in the frames of several school subjects, such as “Biology”(8th grade), few classes called “Healthy Lifestyle” incorporated in the Physical Education subject, and classes called “Safe Activities” included in “Preliminary military  preparedness” subject.Despite the number of hours devoted to sexual education in the frames of the above mentioned subjects, it still does not amount to a comprehensive sexual education, as it does not properly cover all aspects of SRHR issues and is taught by teachers, who do not have relevant knowledge and experience. There are various reasons why the Ministry of Education does not undertake steps to incorporate sexual education in the school curriculum, and considering the Armenian context, one of them is as simple as the word ''sex'', whichis avoidedto be used especially in the school context and for the adolescents[4].

As Anush Alexanyan,the expert of National Institute of Education states, the main section of sexual education is incorporated in the “Healthy lifestyle” classes:according to the curriculum the students at 8thand 9th grades and the high school students should spend 14 hourson these classes, which mainly contains information on maturation, hygiene, valuce of life, sexual violence, relationships,contraceptives and sexually transmitted infections(STIs). Yet, looking at the topics covered by this subject, it is obvious that there is no full reference to sexuality, sexual rights and reproductive rights. Moreover, the classes are held without any textbooks or written materials and there is no monitoring mechanism evaluating the quality of the “Healthy Lifestyle” classes, or tracking whether these classes are held or not. “Certainly, it was a crucial step forward that these subjects got introduced in school curriculum and annually several academic hours are devoted to sexual education, but our monitoring has revealed poor tutoring competence, when many among teachers find it difficult to overcome their own complex of openly speaking on the topic,” said United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Armenia Assistant Representative Garik Hayrapetyan. In fact the specialists run these classes together with other subjects at the same time and do not manage to cover all topics during the given time because of the lack of resourses and skills.

In order to fill the gap of not having sexual education at secondary schools, many awareness raising projects are carried out by local NGOs all over the country. Yet,the organizations providing sexual education trainings or openly speaking about sexuality issues are often discredited or accused in spreading immorality and distroying our national values and norms.

Without acquiring proper educationon sexual and reproductive health the adolescents often turn to peers and the media for information. In most of the time this leads to receiving precarious information dangerous for the adolescents and as a result they face various SRHR issues throughout their lives. “In this era of freedom of information the risks connected to not getting proper sexual education are much higher, because it leads to inadequate perception” says obstetrician-gynecologist Donara Alagyozyan.[5]According to her experience, as a result, currently there is a growing tendency of unintended pregnancies among teenage girls.

To sum up, there is a need of having a comprehensive sexual education for adolescents with properly trained professionals, who are skilled to teach such an important and delicate subject, as sexual education. Despite the fact that the right to sexual education is also enshrined in the RA Law on Reproductive Health and Reproductive Rights, the State does not undertake any steps to properly implement its obligation and ensure comprehensive sexual education to adolescents.

Article written by Lusine Kosakyan, Society Without Violence

Society Without Violence 

[1]Adolescents and Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health, accessed at:
[2]The RA Law on Reproductive Health and Reproductive Rights, adopted in 2002, accessed at:

[4]''Sex Ed a Taboo in Armenia: If Taught at All, It’s by Phys Ed Teachers, Some 80 Years Old'', 2015

[5] Sex Education Needed as Changing Times Accelerate Activity Among Teens, accessed:

CSW60: Every Woman Every Child's high-level event

During this year's 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, Every Woman Every Child office of the Secretary-General has organized the high-level event "The Roadmap to Realizing Rights: Every Woman Every Child's Global Strategy for Women's, Children's and Adolescents' Health" with co-organization of UN Women. The event focused on implementation of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health with its 3 thematic pillars: Survive, Thrive and TransformKeynote address was provided by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

ASTRA Youth member and representative of Croatia at CSW60, Marinella Matejcic, has delivered a speech during the panel discussion as a participant of Women Young Leaders Program.


Find her speech below:

Hello. My name is Marinella Matejcic, and I am a member of the ASTRA Youth Network and a Women Deliver Young Leader. I would like to join Lucia in thanking Every Woman Every Child for the invitation to today’s event. It has been a fascinating conversation so far.

As a sexual and reproductive health and rights activist in Croatia, I work to hold legislators accountable to keep abortion in Croatia legal and to ensure the availability of accurate information about reproductive health and sexual rights to women who need it.

In my advocacy work, some of the challenges have been Croatia’s struggling health care system. Due to outdated systems and unstable economy, many women simply aren’t in the financial situation to receive the health care they need and deserve.

This has created a situation in which women simply aren’t allowed to make decisions about their own bodies.

But despite these challenges, young feminists, and non-governmental organizations are doing incredible work on women's human and work rights, working on gender-based violence, women participation and sexual and reproductive health and rights, coping with problems like disrespect and abuse, lack of access due to objections of conscience that make women seek illegal abortions after hours.

Primary school enrollment for girls is nearly equal to that of their male counterparts and nearly all women deliver their babies in a health care facility. Croatia's maternal mortality ratio is even lower than the European average. Still, disrespect and abuse in childbirth are wide-spread, but there is no proper data on the subject. When it comes to abortion, it is legal upon tenth week of pregnancy but approximately every fifth hospital does not provide that service, due to objections of conscience.  That is the main reason women have hard time exercising their human rights: institutions use object of conscience as an excuse to deny that service to women.

When it comes to my work on the matter of abortion accessibility, we have conducted a guerilla research, called every hospital that is supposed to provide abortions and published all the data on a web page. The web page itself is completely oriented on abortion accessibility and is now being used by women who wish to find proper information on the subject. Some church-affiliated NGOs are pushing unscientific references to mislead those who wish to know more about different aspects of bodily autonomy. My piece on abortion accessibility got published on a Croatian portal and after that, things started to move. Our former liberal government intervened and made the hospitals obey the law. Since Croatia has a new, more conservative government, we don't know what can we expect.

While we are discussing abortion and sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe, it is important to emphasize the fact that, as we speak, nearly 14000 people are trapped on the Balkan route, and 60 percent of them are women and children. Refugee women now face lack of access to maternity care, contraceptives, and sex ed. We need to provide comprehensive reproductive care for everyone, thus, that is an important part of women's empowerment.


The video recording from the event is available here:


UN Experts: Right to sexual and reproductive health indivisible from other human rights

GENEVA (8 March 2016) – The right to sexual and reproductive health is not only an integral part of the general right to health but fundamentally linked to the enjoyment of many other human rights, including the rights to education, work and equality, as well as the rights to life, privacy and freedom from torture, and individual autonomy, UN experts have said in an authoritative new legal commentary*.

Yet, the experts from the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) note, “the full enjoyment of the right to sexual and reproductive health remains a distant goal for millions of people, especially for women and girls, throughout the world.”

The commentary, adopted by CESCR’s 18 independent members, highlights the numerous legal, procedural, practical and social barriers people face in accessing sexual and reproductive health care and information, and the resulting human rights violations.

“For example, lack of emergency obstetric care services or denial of abortion often lead to maternal mortality and morbidity, which in turn constitutes a violation of the right to life or security, and in certain circumstances, can amount to torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” the experts say in their commentary.

The experts’ guidelines, known as a General Comment, concern Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which refers to the right to the highest attainable standard of health.

“As a Committee we have spoken before about the right to health, but we thought that given, for example, high maternal mortality rates around the world or harmful practices that women and girls especially go through, like female genital mutilation and early child marriage, it was important to specifically address the issue of sexual and reproductive health,” said Committee member Heisoo Shin.

The General Comment codifies the Committee’s views on this issue to give States that have ratified the Covenant a clear understanding of their obligations and to highlight to government officials, legal practitioners, as well as civil society, where policy, laws and programme may be failing and how they can be improved.

“I think, for example, that governments have not allocated enough attention and resources to tackle maternal mortality. In 2016, we should not see women dying as they give birth because of insufficient facilities or because of lack of attention or because they are poor,” Ms.Shin said.

The General Comment details the importance of sexual and reproductive health for men and boys, but also highlights how the issues are indispensable for women’s right to make meaningful and autonomous decisions about their lives and health. It notes that gender-based stereotypes play a role in fuelling violations of the right to sexual and reproductive health, including assumptions and expectations of women as men’s subordinates and of women’s role as only caregivers and mothers.

The General Comment also pays special attention to other groups of individuals who may face particular challenges and multiple forms of discrimination.

“People with disabilities need more attention and extra sensitivity to their situation; we see examples of doctors and nurses not treating lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people equally; adolescents can be afraid to go to the gynaecologist because they are not supposed to have any sexual encounter; taboos around sex also affect the ability of single women in many countries to access services,” said Ms.Shin. 

The General Comment details the obligations of States regarding sexual and reproductive health, including:

  • An obligation to repeal, eliminate laws, policies and practices that criminalise, obstruct or undermine an individual’s or a particular group’s access to health facilities, services, goods and information;
  • An obligation to ensure all have access to comprehensive education and information that is non-discriminatory, evidence-based and takes into account the evolving capacities of children and adolescents;
  • An obligation to ensure universal access to quality sexual and reproductive health care, including maternal health care, contraceptive information and services, safe abortion care; prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infertility, reproductive cancers, sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS.

The General Comment states that ideologically based policies or practices, such as the refusal to provide services based on conscience, must not prevent people from getting care, and that an adequate number of health care providers willing and able to provide such services should be available at all times in both public and private facilities. 
“Even in one country, there are wide differences, between different generations, between urban centres and rural areas, differences between men and women, so you cannot say there is always one position, and even culture changes over time,” said Ms Shin. “The ultimate goal should be what is best for people to enjoy the right to sexual and reproductive health.”

*Download the text of General Comment No.22

Source: United Nations Human Rights

Silence equals taboo: women's rights in Poland

Women's rights in Poland, especially those concerning their own choices about their bodies and health have been very limited for over 20 years. Unfortunately, we observe continuous efforts aiming to completely restrict women's freedom to choose.

Many countries of the world face the dominant tendency to increase access to contraception and legal abortion, ensure reimbursement of contraceptives as well as enable sexuality education based on scientific and medical knowledge. Meanwhile, in Poland we experience backlash in women's rights advancement. 

Our government begins to pay the Catholic Church back for its strong support during election campaign. According to a statement of Ministry of Education, qualified educators from non-governmental organizations will not be allowed to schools. Ironically, a recent study of the Institute for Educational Research about sexuality education confirmed the lack of basic knowledge among young people. The study also  showed also that most parents appreciate presence of sexuality education classes in school.

So far Ministry of Health replaced  the subsidised In Vitro Fertilsation  programme with 
a “procreation” programme, based on natural methods of family planning. It will be developed by team of experts demonstrating anti-choice attitudes. We also expect changes in law regarding access to emergency contraception. Since January 2015, thanks to decision of the European Commission, emergency contraception (EllaOne) has been available over-the-counter in Poland. However, it is accessible only for girls over 15 years of age and it’ s quite expensive. One of the most burning issues is our abortion law. We have one of the most restrictive laws in the world and for some politicians and anti-choice activists it's still not enough. Every year there are attempts to ban access to abortion completely. Because of the right wing government and rising support for anti-abortion initiatives, this time they might succeed. As we know, anti-choice activists have started collecting signatures under citizens bill introducing further restrictions to abortion.

What can we do? 

We should speak up about women's rights to make their own choices, about young people's right to comprehensive sexuality education and about access to modern contraception, which is guaranteed by Polish law. We should refer to our Constitution, especially to 47th article, which grants all citizens a right to legal protection of private and family life, honour and good reputation and the right to make decisions about personal life.

What we cannot do is to remain silent. Silence equals taboo and allows for stigmatization of women’s rights defenders, sexuality educators and women who had an abortion or considered it. We will not stop our efforts to educate society and debunk existing myths on sexual and reproductive health. 

Written by Krystyna Kacpura, Executive Director of the Federation for Women and Family Planning serving as ASTRA Secretariat

Why the war on “gender ideology” matters – and not just to feminists

Anti-genderism and the crisis of neoliberal democracy.

Weronika Grzebalska

According to EIGE’s Gender Equality Index report, women in Europe are currently only halfway towards to the goal of reaching equality with men, and their overall situation has not improved during the last decade. The picture is even grimmer in Visegrad countries which are lagging significantly behind older member states in terms of women’s position, ranking around 10% below the EU average of 52.9%. But as recent conservative mobilisations across Europe alarm us, the progress that has been made in the field of gender equality has not only been rather stagnant and uneven, but also much shakier and easier to reverse than we had imagined.

In countries such as Croatia, Germany, Italy, France, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and Slovenia, the post-war consensus on human rights is currently being threatened as issues such as gender mainstreaming, sexual education, LGBTQ+ rights and reproductive rights have come under coordinated attacks carried out by the Church, religious and lay conservative NGOs, right wing politicians, and even grassroots mobilisations.

Since the transnational anti-gender campaign began unfolding around  2012, the aforementioned actors have already achieved a great deal: they managed to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people for demonstrations and civil initiatives across Europe, to hinder the passing of progressive laws or the ratification of international treaties advancing human rights, cut state funds for gender quality, and in some countries – even change the constitution.

In France, the La Manif pour tous movement took off in 2012 as a campaign against same-sex marriage (with 150 thousand people marching in Paris alone in May 2013), but it soon turned into a protest against the more general threat of “gender theory” being taught in schools.

Likewise, in Italy and Germany, demonstrations against school curricula were carried out under the aegis of “protecting the children” from a depravation allegedly imposed on them by “gender ideology”.

In Croatia and Slovakia, the pressure from conservative civil movements resulted in the introduction of constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile in Russia, a bill aiming to protect minors from “homosexual propaganda” was signed into law in 2013, and was soon followed by similar attempts in other post-Soviet countries such as Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine.

In Poland, the campaign initially focused on opposing the Istanbul Convention as a carrier of “gender ideology”, delaying its ratification by three years. However, it soon spread to other issues, and gained significant momentum after the populist right wing Prawo i Sprawiedliwość came to power. During just the last few months, the newly elected Polish president vetoed a major transgender rights bill, a coalition of pro-life organizations submitted a petition calling for Parliament to withdraw the morning after pill from pharmacies and hospitals, the government cancelled the publicly funded IVF scheme and cut the funds from the Ombudsman due to accusations that the office promotes “gender ideology”, as well as announcing plans to eradicate any elements of sex and equality education from schools.

The aforementioned national campaigns have a lot in common. They share a common enemy figure – “gender ideology” or “gender theory”, draw from the same philosophical foundations – the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, invoke identical, hyperbolic and fear-arousing discursive figures and operate through similar means of action (i.e., civil initiatives and grassroots organizing). But while the concept of “gender” is present in all these campaigns, we would be very wrong to assume they are simply about opposing gender equality and minority rights.

Anti-genderism – as we argued in our book – is rather a “symbolic glue” which connects various progressive issues under one umbrella term, and unites different conservative actors in a much bigger quest to change the values underlying the European liberal democracy. As such, anti-genderism is not “just” a feminist issue, but rather one threatening liberal democracy – a Trojan horse for making much broader and deeper changes to our political system.

At the same time, both progressive European political leaders and Members of the European Parliament have been rather hesitant to react to these mobilizations, and when they did, they often found it sufficient to simply target these conservative campaigns as a problem in and of itself. And so they came up with ways to expose their financial and ideological connections with the Catholic Church, discredit their leaders by ridicule or defamation, educate their supporters in gender studies, or simply defend certain policies from conservative attacks.

And while some of these tactics might have been effective in the short term, I am growing more and more convinced that they will ultimately prove insufficient. It is because waging a war against the rise of political extremism and religious fundamentalism can only bring us so far as mitigating the symptoms of a disease instead of curing its root causes.

So what are these root causes and why do masses of people become radicalized against liberal democracy in its current form? It is of course a complex, multi-dimensional issue. But thanks to a growing literature dealing with the social consequences of the current economic system we know for sure that a large part of the answer to this question is that the neoliberal, market-driven democracy that we currently see in Europe, structurally excludes a huge number of people from social participation, pushing them into insecurity if not outright poverty.

It is in this context that conservative protest movements create a space for these people to vent their fears and insecurities, voice their anger and dissatisfaction with politics and claim a sense of agency and empowerment that European liberals and social democrats once promised – but failed to deliver.

Interestingly enough, the city where European policies are made and where I have originally given this statement, can serve as a mini-laboratory for the examination of these issues. Brussels has been one of the main migrant destinations for Polish unskilled workers from rural areas.

In eastern parts of the country, there are towns that now count 25% of their total population as citizens who have emigrated from other areas of Europe, and most of those were women who have been especially vulnerable to the rolling back of the state, the privatization of health care and the growing precarity of work in general. And while these brave women made the hard decision to leave their children in order to be able to provide for them, back at home their departure resulted in a massive moral panic aroused around the emotive figure of a “Euro-orphan”, as Polish sociologist Sylwia Urbańska observed. In the media, female migrants were accused of being deviant and egoistic, and their families were ostracized as broken and pathological. It was not long until right wing politicians started calling for the return of the nuclear family and traditional family values as a solution to these emergent problems of transnational families.

The case of the patriarchal moral panic around migrant women is just one of the many examples of the link between current right-wing, anti-gender mobilisations and the challenges created by the globalised, neoliberal economy. Another one is the recent social campaign “Don’t Put Off Motherhood Until It’s Too Late”, carried out by the conservative Mom and Dad Foundation (Fundacja Mamy i Taty), one of the key civil society actors of the war against “gender ideology” in Poland. The video shows a wealthy, middle-aged woman expressing regret over not having children. “I managed to have a specialisation and a career; I managed to see Tokyo and Paris; I managed to buy a flat and renovate a house. But I didn’t become a mum. I regret this” – she concludes, as a tear rolls down her face.

While the demographic crisis is undoubtedly unfolding not just in Poland, but around the continent, what raises eyebrows is the Foundation’s decision to blame it solely on women’s alleged egoism, and the subsequent efforts to discuss the issue in an anti-choice and anti-gender framework. In fact, most Polish women would probably not recognize their own motivations to postpone parenthood in this portrayal, as the former have more to do with financial instability, insufficient provision of state-funded childcare and a lack of gender-equal parental leave policies than with individual love of comfort and consumptionism. But just like in the case of the moral panic around “Euro-orphans”, here the right has also managed to aptly identify very genuine social challenges and insecurities, and then provided deeply harmful solutions to them.

By all means, members of the European feminist and LGBT+ movements as well as progressive politicians have been right in opposing anti-gender mobilizations, and criticizing the solutions offered by them as threatening human rights and destructive to democratic society. But as they were calling for the need to protect women’s and minority rights and other liberal values from right-wing attacks, what they so often ignored is the fact that the liberal democratic system in its current form has become an empty slogan to the vast masses of people to whom it has very little to offer, among them rural mothers forced to migrate to support their families or middle class women struggling to afford a child.

While this does not mean that these people will automatically become radicalised, what is certain is that those who have been failed by the liberal democratic system will not readily join the struggle to oppose right-wing mobilisations, not recognizing the European democratic values as something worth fighting for. The evidence is already there – while the demonstrations against “gender theory” or sexual education have taken hundreds of thousands of Europeans to the streets, counter-reactions have been considerably smaller in numbers and mostly restricted to the academic and NGO level.

Therefore, the task that stands before European political leaders and decision makers is to acknowledge the connection between anti-genderism and other forms of right-wing radicalisation on the one hand, and the broader crisis of democracy stemming from the failure of the current globalised, capitalist order on the other.

This does not mean that the fight for gender equality should be abandoned as a legitimate social goal or substituted with a plan that focuses on redistribution instead. Rather, the challenge is to reconnect these two dimensions of social justice in new ways.

One way to do so is to start our politics with the very material experiences of ordinary people’s lives, identify the challenges faced by them, and articulate them in progressive terms. It is precisely here that young grassroots feminist and socialist movements offer a unique perspective which could help progressive political parties break out of the current deadlock.

Working grassroots with women who have been disproportionately affected by the rolling back of the state, severe austerity measures, growing precarity of employment and privatization of care work, feminist activists across the globe remind us that women experience intersecting oppressions and that the promise of gender equality cannot be fulfilled without reforming the current socioeconomic system, and that only by solving the latter can we renew people’s faith in the democratic project.

The author is a sociologist and a feminist currently pursuing a PhD at the Graduate School for Social Research, Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. Her research focuses on Polish nationalism, militarism and the far-right seen from a gender perspective. She is the author of “Płeć powstania warszawskiego” [Gender of the Warsaw Uprising, IBL PAN 2013] and contributor to “Gender as symbolic glue. The position and role of conservative and far right parties in the anti-gender mobilisations in Europe” (FEPS and FES 2015). She is also a member of FEPS Young Academics Network and a Gender Research Team affiliated with the Polish Academy of Sciences. 

This article is an extended version of the author’s statement delivered at the event Passing on the Torch. The legacy of the Beijing Platform for Action and new, grassroots feminist movements organized by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies in the European Parliament in Brussels on20 October 2015.

Source: Visegrad Insight

Youth for Gender Equality Forum

Youth for Gender Equality Forum 2016
was held on 2th-4th of March in European Parliament, in Brussels, organised by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. Only 20 young people from Europe and 5 beyond Europe were invited to participate in this event, but lots of messages had been and will be shared with those, who couldn‘t attend. It wasan interactive and inspiring initiative to promote dialogue, exchange, learning and networking for people engaged in promoting gender equality in their daily lives.

The main topics that were discussed during the Forum were refugee crisis, economic independence, SRHR, comprehensive sexuality education, abortion legislation and stigma, gender-based violence, LGBTI rights, the raise of anti-gender and anti-feminist movement.

Despite the fact that the EU has adopted numerous texts to ensure equal opportunities and treatment for men and women and to combat all forms of discrimination based on sex, insufficient progress has been made and many inequalities still persist.

ASTRA Youth member from Lithuania, Family Planning and Sexual Health Association representative Julita Valancauskyte attended the Forum and was actively involved in all discussions together with young people and MEPs. She has joined creation of the strategy for equal Europe and participated in the workshop The raise of anti-gender and anti-feminist movements are our fight!’Lots of inspiration and motivation spread through participants, still there’s lots of work to do to make EU equal.


Sexuality education in Moldova

Sexuality education in Moldova remains a challenging issue, as being provided either within Civic Education or Biology lessons as optional aspect of the curriculum. Several years ago, the curriculum included a separate ‘Life Skills’ subject but it was suspended due to insistence from religious organizations.

The Ministry of Education has published two editions of Civic Education textbooks for 9th and 10th graders, which explicitly promote abstinence-only approach. Pupils in the 9th grade discuss sexual relationships under the theme ‘Passions and emotions. Abstinence and its importance to healthy and safe lifestyle’. Due to textbooks, when sex is practiced improperly it can lead to STIs, unwanted pregnancies, emotional and even physical problems resulting from HIV infection. Therefore, authors of textbooks recommend sexual activity starting after marriage as the best solution to family harmony and happy relationships. According to Natalia Cojuhari, assistant representative of United Nations Population Fund in Moldova, although the law on reproductive health (adopted in 2012) stipulates that sex education be made compulsory in schools and in other institutions where there are young people, this is not fully implemented and remains an optional subject as in Romania, Cyprus, Lithuania and Poland.

The statistics regarding sexual and reproductive health in Moldova are alarming – annually, about 70 children are born by girls under 15 years of age. On the other hand, rates of abortions remain high, as between 2010 and 2013, there were 60 thousand registered abortions and out of them, 10,6% were among adolescents aged 15-19. Unofficially, the doctors argue that numbers may be higher as not all abortions are registered and those done in private clinics are not recorded in official statistics.

Source: Timpul


Moral education guidelines in Latvia

The National Curriculum Development Centre (SECC) is developing moral education guidelines, including the virtues to be taught to children at Latvian schools. The list of virtues includes solidarity, dignity, justice, honesty among others; moderation and courage have been added recently. Guidance developers hope that the document will help teachers to bring up children, but teachers remain skeptical.

The initiative of ‘moral education’ has begun with the booklet developed by Papardes zieds, which mentioned homosexual relationships. Part of Latvian MPs regarded this as an attack on morality and marriage. Last year, the Saeima supported the moral education amendment, which obliges schools to provide moral education that meets the values protected by the Constitution, especially marriage and family. Although guidelines are not supposed to define marriage or discuss sexuality, the virtues mentioned in the guidelines such as temperance, apply to sexuality as well.

The Latvian Association of Schoolmasters vice president, Aija Melle, claims that these guidelines pose a threat of censorship. The current version of the guidelines will be shared for review and it is planned that the government will approve them by 1st July.

Source: LSM.LV

Rising rates of teen births in Latvia

The rising rates of teen births have been observed in Latvia. Due to hospital data, Riga Maternity Hospital registered that 300 school-aged girls gave birth over the past five years and almost 50 only last year. Many of minor mothers have not completed primary school yet.

The main reason for school-aged girls becoming mothers is lack of quality information on sexuality and various stakeholders such as politicians, parents, physicians and social services should be involved to find a solution. Riga Social Service claims that to reduce the number of teen births, health education should be introduced as a separate subject. However, according to the Ministry of Education and Science, students are already overloaded and health education is integrated within other subjects.

Source: Skaties

Valentine's Day Street Event in Poland

On 14th February 2016, Ponton Group of Sex Educators organized their Valentine’s Day street event for the tenth time. This year’s theme was ‘Infect with Love, Not HIV’. Ponton volunteers distributed leaflets and brochures on prevention of HIV/AIDS along with condoms and balloons.

Young people and adults participating in the event were encouraged to take part in the quiz and check their knowledge of sexuality, including physiology, pregnancy, modern contraception, HIV/AIDS prevention and transmission, sexual violence, sexting. There was also a possibility to take a photo with a special speech bubble, including participant’s recommendation on sexuality education. The recommendations included calling for education on sexual violence, STIs, contraception, conscious consent and satisfying relationships.

Photos from the event are accessible here.

Source:Ponton Group of Sex Educators

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