Ohhhhhh….I said the A word. Abortion. Someone has to say it. This post is not really about abortions, but about the impact our silence on the issues of sex is having on the young women of the world.
I should know. I am a young woman. I also work for an international women’s rights organization that talks about the issues of sex daily. And I am not talking just about the act of sex…but all the other baggage that comes with it. Contraception, sexually transmitted infections, maternal health, reproductive rights….ALL of it.
A few months ago I had the amazing opportunity to be part of a young women’s training in the Caribbean on the issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights, HIV and AIDS and violence against women. That was the fancy theme for it but in reality, it was a day of young women sharing the reality of being a young woman in the Caribbean today. It blew my mind.
I also learnt many new things. Had a blinkie lately? A blinkie is when a man ejaculates in your eye. This is not some new kinky sexual act. It is ‘because you can’t get pregnant or HIV this way’ along with the added benefit of ‘ you keep your virginity.’ Anal sex is also on the rise, because you guessed it….. you are still a virgin if you have anal sex.
Where are young women, and young men for that matter, learning these things ? Why do they accept these so called truths? Because we have let them…because we have taught them these things through our ignorance , silence and lack of willingness to talk openly about important issues such as sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Young women have to learn the importance of loving themselves. Of realising they are fabulous. So do young men. They have to learn this from a very early age, and one way that may just help is if they grow up in an environment both at home , school , church , community where people are talking openly about sex and their bodies.
Condoms are not the answer to STIs, unplanned pregnancies and the spread of HIV. Respect for yourself and those around you are though. It will take a long time to change the world, and the state it is in but if we start educating young people and providing young women with opportunities for economic independence, we can make a difference.
I don’t want my future daughter navigating her way through a world of blinkies, do-it-yourself-abortion procedures or trading her body for some nice shoes. She is worth so much more. All of the young women of the world are.
27, originally from Chile but spent most of my life in NZ. Now work in Geneva, Switzerland for an international women's rights organisation.