|Mezzo: For Young People by Young People (IPPF, 1997, 52 p.)|
HISTORY demonstrates that the imposition of extremely strict
taboos on sexual relations yields no effective results. On the contrary, various
benighted interpretations of the sex act emerge which have a pernicious effect
on young people. Heavy-handedness, "brainwashing" and moralizing will not stop
the young from engaging in sexual activity.
Elmira Gilmudinova, 17, Kazakhstan
ON the one hand, society places a protective veil over the
realm of sex, preventing young people from getting the knowledge they need; on
the other, young people's senses are excited... Young people thus remain
ignorant of sexual knowledge while being subjected to sensory stimulation that
excites their desires, so how can teenage pregnancy be prevented under such
conditions? I believe that the fundamental solution is to provide sex education
to young people.
Zhou Quan, 18, China
THE misconception is that sex education teaches people how to
have sex, whereas it actually teaches young people about the development of
their body- reproductive health, sexually transmitted diseases and
contraceptives. Because adults do not like to discuss sex, adolescents gel most
of their information about sex from their friends and from the media. Most of
the time friends do not have all the information that a teenager should be
given, or worse, the information is not correct... I think sex education should
be taught in schools, but the parents must be responsible for this too, because
schools may take a narrow view of what informations is to be given.
Nadia Blaja, 16, Moldova
I MET this girl in my village the other week. She was
pregnant with her seventh child getting married at the age of 14 to a 17 year
old boy of her own caste. Being of a low caste with no education, she didn't
have any control over her own life... If Mona had been given the opportunity of
education, to make her own money, and awareness of her body she would not become
the slave of the tradition and the society. This would cause greater
independence and higher quality of her life.
Hari Ghimire, 20, Nepal
THINK before you act. Sex has more disadvantages than advantages
at our age. It won't kill you to wall. Your pals are not the ones who might end
up out of school, without a job, pregnant. You are. Let your boyfriend
understand. If his brain is actually above his belt, he'll comprehend your
reasons for not rushing into that as yet. It you decide to take the plunge, be
absolutely sure it's what you want and make sure you're well-protected. A
mistake could be costly.
Melissa Johnson, 14, Jamaica
A WOMAN gives birth and the first question she must answer to
her friends is what sex the baby is. When it's a boy, everyone is very happy and
there is the famous expression "se gan gallina" which is roughly the same as
saying, "you won the lottery", yet when It's a girl, people say - with
satisfaction but less fanfare - "now your home's little servant has been born".
This shows that In society women serve only for houseworks... People must be
educated not to disapprove when a woman carries out activities which only men
can allegedly perform, such as working as a gas pump attendant, fixing cars,
running a business, and all the other activities we are capable of, and also not
to disapprove of men who help out at home or in some other activities which
until now have only been done by women.
Carolina Leonor Ruiz Herrera, 18, Guatemala
I THINK the media must play a role in this raising of awareness,
as must schools and clubs and youth organizations. They must try to learn young
people's opinions, particularly with regard to subjects relating to population
and development. In order that in future, every person is able to enjoy all his
rights and freedoms, including the rights to education and health, without
discrimination on the grounds of sex, language, ethnic origin or
Saad Al-Din Mahmud Zaidan, 19, Egypt
Excerpts from some of the winning entries of the UNFPA International Youth Essay Contest 1996: "Promoting Responsible Reproductive Behaviour".