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35+ years of activism & feminism in Fiji

Published

23 November 2020

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Fiji Women's Rights Movement

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FWRM PR: Comprehensive sex education is critical to address teenage pregnancy and violence 23/11/2020

FWRM PR: Comprehensive sex education is critical to address teenage pregnancy and violence

23/11/2020

Women and girls must be empowered to understand and have access to fundamental information about their bodies. To deny them this knowledge will exacerbate issues of violence and social issues such as teenage pregnancy.

Recent reports in the media have been very disturbing and reflect a serious lack of awareness of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). A high school student was hospitalised after allegedly giving birth in school. Unfortunately, the baby was found dead. Last week, a leaked sex video made headlines alleged to have a minor involved, a Year 8 student. There have also been reports on disposed foetuses found. It is critical for news media organisations to understand these issues and the harm that comes with sensationalising headlines. 

FWRM calls for more responsible, gender-balanced and ethical reporting from journalists as they play an important role in sharing information and debunking stereotypes and myths that undermine human rights and justice.

“It’s a disturbing reality that children as young as those in primary school are involved in sexual activities and finding themselves in dangerous situations. There must be meaningful age-appropriate[1] comprehensive sex education (CSE) for children to learn about safe spaces, bodily autonomy and having respectful relationships,” said FWRM Executive Director Nalini Singh.

FWRM welcomes comments made by the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa calling for collective action to ensure that adolescents are given timely information and have efficient resources to curb issues related to sexual practices that are otherwise seen as taboo topics in our communities and schools.

“There needs to be some critical thinking and improved curriculum that allows teachers to unlearn the notion of “Sex Talk” as taboo in Teacher Training Institutions. The school curriculum on sexual health provides the foundation of knowledge that adolescents need to make decisions on their bodies,” said Ms Singh.

“The call for improved CSE has been an ongoing effort that FWRM and women’s groups,  young women and girls have advocated for consistently over the years through national budget submissions, outcome statements from young women-led fora and research analysis work. This comes in the back of high rates of unplanned and teenage pregnancies and violence against women and girls  ”

 CSE can play a role in ending discrimination and violence, and now more than ever, it is urgently needed to combat the growing threat against women and girls’ human rights.

[1] The reference to “age appropriate” is deemed to mean education that is “consistent with the evolving capacities of [children], adolescents and young people to be able to make responsible and informed decisions and exercise  their right to control all aspects of their sexuality, protect themselves from [sexual exploitation] and unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, HIV and sexually transmitted infections, to promote values of tolerance, mutual respect and non violence in relationships, and to plan their lives, while recognizing the role and responsibilities of parents, as well as of teachers and peer educators, to support them in doing so.” -DAWN Research

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