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Sex Education in Crisis: The Difficult Path of Young People Towards an Informed Choice

Updated: 2 days ago

sex education

It is a reality that young people have pregnancies at an early age and it is also a reality that they have abortions. Unfortunately, finding safe and reliable information to make these decisions is not as common, due to the lack of sex education.

In my experience as an activist for sexual and reproductive rights, young people find it very difficult to exercise their right to decide about their own bodies and to exercise a safe, pleasurable and responsible sexuality.

One of these difficulties is the lack of access to comprehensive sexuality education, inclusive and adapted to the needs of young people. According to the latest Unesco report, in an online survey conducted in 2019 by more than 1,400 young people (aged 15-24) from 27 countries reflected on their experience of sexuality education. 1 in 3 ( approx. 28%) felt that they had received very good or fairly good sexuality education at school. Youth with disabilities and those who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) were less satisfied than their cisgender and heterosexual peers with the education they had received.

Sex Education Outside the School Curriculum

When it comes to abortion, we are faced with a very difficult reality. If there is no comprehensive sex education on a regular basis, much less is there information on voluntary interruption of pregnancy in the school curriculum. This shows that there is a strong stigma when abortion is related to young people. According to the same Unesco report, abortion is the least included topic in school curricula, with only between 12 and 15% in all the countries studied.

However, the lack of clear information on abortion does not prevent abortions from occurring, nor does it prevent young people from deciding to have an abortion. On the contrary, they are more likely to have abortions in high-risk, clandestine conditions and, in most cases, without any reliable support. According to the 2019 report of the NGO Mujeres al Límite, for every 3 births attended in Venezuelan hospitals, there is a case of abortion initiated in a clandestine and unsafe manner, being approximately 15 daily, of which one third are under 12 years of age.

Fight for the Right to Decide

Because abortion is illegal in Venezuela, many adolescents are forced to opt for unsafe abortion options, putting their lives at risk. Those who decide to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, leave aside their personal projects, often lagging behind in the work of caring for and sustaining life.

That is why a youth approach and perspective is extremely necessary to talk about abortion, create public policies and work for decriminalization and legalization. In this same sense, it is also interesting to observe how in the social movements for the decriminalization and legalization of the voluntary interruption of pregnancy there is a large presence of young people leading campaigns, marches and artistic interventions. This shows us that young people have a lot to give to this struggle for the right to decide.

Also enter our Forum (Spanish) - a safe space to talk freely and learn about everything related to your sexual and reproductive health.



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