Adolescent women and younger ladies have a proper to know: Accessing data on sexual and reproductive well being and rights within the wake of COVID-19
Posted: 22 October, 2020
Writer: Kerigo Odada
Human Rights Lawyer; LLM (Sexual & Reproductive Rights in Africa) pupil, Centre for Human Rights, College of Pretoria
For a lot of adolescent women and younger ladies world wide, adolescence marks not solely the graduation of puberty, but additionally a time the place statistically, the danger of going through human rights abuses equivalent to sexual violence, exploitation, and different opposed outcomes of intercourse will increase. Nonetheless, regardless of this excessive predisposition to abuse, adolescent women and younger ladies nonetheless face a number of obstacles in accessing data on sexual and reproductive well being and rights (SRHR). Discriminatory cultural values, legal guidelines, and insurance policies which are pushed by the stigma hooked up to sexuality have made it difficult for members of this social group to get pleasure from full entry to a lot wanted SRHR data.
As of April 2020, about 1.725 billion college students worldwide have been compelled out of studying establishments because of COVID-19. Though the closure of colleges and different lockdown measures have been strategic in controlling the unfold of COVID-19, this case sadly meant that many adolescent women and younger ladies have been now confined in houses the place they have been, and nonetheless are, at a heightened threat of extended sexual abuse, exploitation and detrimental outcomes of intercourse.
Though lockdowns, quarantines, and different isolation measures have had a detrimental influence on the lives of numerous adolescent women and younger ladies worldwide, it isn’t COVID-19 that’s liable for a couple of lady being raped throughout the first 17 days of quarantine in Peru. It’s not COVID-19 that’s liable for “a every day common of 48 instances of violence towards youngsters, together with sexual assault and rape for the reason that starting of the lockdown in Bolivia”. It’s not COVID-19 that’s liable for roughly 4,000 college women being impregnated in Machakos County, Kenya throughout the first 4 months of lockdown, neither is it liable for impregnating round 2,300 schoolgirls and marrying off round 128 of them in Uganda. These are the implications of pre-existing gender inequalities which are pushed by androcentric programs of justice, well being care and training -systems which are oftentimes designed to guard perpetrators whereas leaving adolescent women and younger ladies uncovered.
Denying adolescent women and younger ladies the chance to freely entry SRHR data throughout this era is a failure on the a part of governments as a result of they’ve an obligation to make sure all individuals can absolutely get pleasure from the best to well being. This strategy doesn’t consider the lived realities of many adolescents and younger ladies, nor their evolving capacities. SRHR data empowers members of this social group with important data, expertise, and values equivalent to important pondering, communication, negotiation, decision-making and assertiveness all of which empower them to navigate a world the place they’re extremely inclined to sexual exploitation and abuse, little one marriage, unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortions, HIV/AIDS and different sexually transmitted infections.
A number of organisations engaged on adolescent women and younger ladies’s SRHR, have referred to as upon governments to make sure we do not need a repeat of what was witnessed throughout the 2014 Ebola outbreak the place teenage pregnancies elevated by 65%. These organisations famous that measures taken to answer epidemics typically go away adolescent women and younger ladies susceptible to sexual abuse and exploitation as a result of they’re often remoted from individuals, programs and assets that may assist them safeguard their SRHR. Due to this fact, preventative measures equivalent to uninterrupted entry to SRHR companies and data should be ensured to safeguard the well being and effectively being of members of this social group.
Conserving communication channels open, knowledgeable, and supportive of adolescent women and younger ladies play a key function in guaranteeing this social group acquires sensible data that can assist defend them from abuse and different detrimental outcomes of intercourse. It’s due to this fact crucial that governments, in collaboration with the media, develop and implement a framework for partaking with adolescent women and younger ladies on issues referring to SRHR.
Partaking the Media
Media has one of many best potentials to advance SRHR globally. Given its “capability to disseminate data in a broad, well timed, and accessible method”, sturdy partnerships and collaboration with journalists and social media activists on the international and native ranges are important in safeguarding adolescent women and younger ladies’s SRHR. Governments, in collaboration with organisations engaged on SRHR, ought to spend money on creating and sustaining the curiosity of the media in reporting on SRHR points as a result of this may guarantee adolescent women and younger ladies have uninterrupted entry to SRHR data. This additionally includes strengthening the capability of the media to have interaction within the subject. Digital trainings, workshops, and webinars needs to be organised to teach the media on find out how to report on SRHR points. Serving to journalists get a deeper understanding of the problems will be certain that they’re motivated to report on them.
A great collaboration with the media can result in the manufacturing and dissemination of high quality marketing campaign and academic supplies equivalent to motion pictures, radio reveals, songs, posters, stickers, and on-line campaigns. For instance, in Burkina Faso, a partnership with the Nationwide Coalition for the Abandonment of Youngster Marriage noticed the coaching of 30 nationwide journalists on little one marriage, whereas in Niger, radio ‘Voix du Sahel’ and 9 personal radio stations labored collectively to air a cleaning soap opera that efficiently raised consciousness on little one marriage within the area.
However, in as a lot as utilizing media might be important in guaranteeing SRHR data is accessible to adolescent women and younger ladies, stakeholders should additionally be certain that they put in place measures to guard this group as they have interaction with these media platforms. That is particularly related for on-line fashions of communication, equivalent to social media. In keeping with UNICEF, youngsters now spend lots of time on-line both for college, or when socialising with associates which consequently places them susceptible to on-line sexual exploitation and misinformation. In a report launched in April, UNICEF famous that, for the reason that pandemic began, web utilization had elevated by as much as 50% in some elements of the world as life grew to become increasingly digitalised. With fewer bodily accessible actions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, younger individuals are spending extra time shopping the web. In Canada, as an illustration, Cybertip.ca, an internet sexual exploitation of youngsters tip line, reported a 66% improve in reviews in April following the implementation of lockdowns. In India, there was a 95% rise in visitors looking for little one sexual abuse content material, whereas in Europe, Europol (The European Union police company) has sounded the alarm over vital will increase in exercise referring to little one sexual abuse and exploitation on each the floor net and darkish net throughout the COVID-19 lockdown interval.
Governments ought to associate with different stakeholders equivalent to civil society organisations, and community-based organisations to develop methods to have interaction the media, each mainstream and social media. This engagement ought to finally result in the event of a framework to teach the youth on SRHR and needs to be a part of the academic applications rolled out in numerous international locations. Forming partnerships might be instrumental in bringing collectively a various vary of individuals and organisations, thereby facilitating the trade of data, expertise, expertise, and supplies whereas offering peer assist, encouragement, and motivation. Partnerships, particularly with grassroots organisations, assist in getting neighborhood buy-in which is important in addressing points associated to younger ladies’s entry to complete SRHR data.
For instance, technical, monetary, and logistical assist may very well be given to initiatives equivalent to InfoAdoJeunes, a cell app developed in Togo to assist youth entry credible SRHR data throughout this time of COVID-19. One other profitable initiative is U-Report, an SMS-based peer counselling service in Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Uganda, that was developed to assist steady coaching and solutions to younger individuals’s questions and considerations on SRHR. U-report geared up mentors with cell entry that reaches over 200,000 adolescents with youth-friendly data primarily on little one marriage.
The pandemic has uncovered the truth that sexual exploitation of adolescent women and younger ladies, regardless of being a gross violation of human rights, is deeply woven into the tapestry of many societies. A state of affairs that’s additional worsened by both lack of entry to data on SRHR, or if entry is there, the data is complicated or conflicting. When this group lacks data on their SRHR, they’re left susceptible to sexual exploitation, coercion, sexually transmitted infections together with HIV/AIDS, unintended pregnancies, and unsafe abortions. It’s due to this fact of paramount significance that we offer adolescent women with complete data on SRHR that prepares them for a secure, productive, and fulfilling life. To proceed denying adolescent women and younger ladies entry to this data below the pretext of defending them from immorality is discriminatory and a violation of their rights.
This text was initially revealed on the SRHM Weblog
Concerning the Writer:
Kerigo Odada is a human rights lawyer who specialises in Sexual and Reproductive Well being and Rights and at present serves as a Board Member of The Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights. She is at present a LLM (SRRA) pupil on the Centre for Human Rights, College nof Pretoria