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Crusade Against Sex Education Undermines Progress Made in Latin America

A young teenage mother, pregnant again, sits with her young child in the Sawré Muybu indigenous village in the Amazonian state of Pará in northern Brazil. Teenage pregnancy is one of the common problems facing Latin America. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS
Improvement & Help, Editors’ Selection, Gender, Gender Violence, Health, Latin America & the Caribbean, Inhabitants, Poverty & SDGs, Regional Categories, Ladies’s Well being


A young teenage mother, pregnant once more, sits together with her younger baby in the Sawré Muybu indigenous village in the Amazonian state of Pará in northern Brazil. Teenage pregnancy is likely one of the widespread issues dealing with Latin America. Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 30 2019 (IPS) – The crusade towards complete intercourse schooling by conservative and non secular sectors undermines progress in Latin America and will further drive up rates of adlescent being pregnant, communicable illnesses and abuse towards women and adolescents.

In Brazil, the place far-right President Jair Bolsonaro took office on Jan. 1, backed by the nation’s neo-Petencostal church buildings, the crusade has high-up representatives: the minister of family, ladies and human rights is an evangelical pastor, Damara Alves, and the schooling minister is theologian Ricardo Vélez.

Already famous firstly of her mandate from the announcement of “a new era” in Brazilian faculties, in which “boys will be dressed in blue and girls in pink,” Alves, a militant towards abortion and in favor of the normal household, stated her administration would struggle towards “gender ideology.”

Vélez, for his part, is preventing comprehensive intercourse schooling (CSE), arguing that it “invades a private family space,” as a part of Bolsonaro’s broader technique to fight policies he describes as “Marxist garbage” in faculties.

“Churches and conservative sectors created a narrative that has led to a certain collective hysteria against what they call gender ideology and school sex education that according to them foment homosexuality and transsexualism. This is a very powerful image that has infiltrated the hearts and minds of a large part of society,” Brazilian sociologist Jacqueline Pitanguy informed IPS.

“The creation of narratives based on ‘fake news’ that instill fear in families, especially that of gender ideology and the supposed denial of what is masculine and feminine in schools, was an important instrument in the electoral campaign, boosting the presence of conservatives in state governments, in the legislature and in the presidency,” she added from Rio de Janeiro.

The growing affect of those forces of conservative fundamentalism was a precursor to Bolsonaro’s emergence as a contender for the presidency, stated Pitanguy, of the non-governmental organisation Citizenship, Education, Analysis, Info and Action (Cepia).

“In the past few decades there has been an accelerated growth of neo-pentecostal evangelical churches that constitute a formidable political pressure group with a significant number of representatives in the federal and local legislatures, with a strong electoral influence since the believers follow the guidance of their pastors and bishops,” she stated.

“With the support of Catholics and conservative groups in Congress, they have already succeeded in removing gender and sexual orientation from educational programmes,” she stated.

Pitanguy stated this “adverse scenario” may have unfavorable effects on the sexual and reproductive health of younger Brazilians, comparable to increased publicity to sexually transmitted illnesses and teenage being pregnant.

In Brazil, a rustic of 209 million individuals, one in five babies is born to a mom between the ages of 10 and 19, in accordance with the federal government’s Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics.

CSE additionally “provides tools to prevent child sexual abuse and gender-based violence. Numerous experiences show how children can identify this type of situation and ask adults for help,” Dr. Alma Camacho, a regional sexual and reproductive health advisor with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), informed IPS.

A younger lady takes part in an indication in the town of Rio de Janeiro, sporting a T-shirt with the message: “Women against (Jair) Bolsonaro”. Ladies led the battle towards the now president of Brazil through the election campaign, with the slogan #ÉlNo (not him). Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

Based on the Brazilian Ministry of Well being, of 184,524 instances of gender violence and abuse between 2011 and 2017, 74.2 % of the victims have been women and adolescents.

“The lack of sex education on gender equality, sexual and reproductive rights, and violence, among other issues, makes it difficult to build more egalitarian relationships, and keeps young people from taking a proactive, responsible role in their sexual and reproductive lives,” Pitanguy stated.

A violation of the rights of the bulk, in line with a December ballot by the polling agency Datafolha, which revealed that 54 % of Brazilians help CSE.

Since 2008, when the ministers of health and schooling of Latin America and the Caribbean signed the “Prevent with Education” declaration in Mexico, “notable advances have been identified in national legislation that promotes the incorporation of CSE in the formal education system,” stated Camacho from UNFPA’s regional headquarters in Panama City.

Virtually all the nations in the region, he pointed out, have some laws that goal to realize this objective. Some have even included CSE as public coverage, together with Argentina, Colombia, Cuba and Uruguay, although actual implementation has fallen brief in each scope and diploma, stated Camacho, a gynecologist and surgeon.

In her view, the nations have shown “weaknesses” in the incorporation of CSE as public coverage. “This makes these programmes generally fragile and dependent on whoever is in power. At the same time, it makes them more permeable to the influence of conservative groups,” she stated.

“We are going through a difficult time in the region because of the strong presence of these groups who spread misconceptions about CSE and put pressure on governments to discourage its implementation. A number of countries that had made progress are suffering setbacks or stagnation in the development of policies and programmes,” Camacho stated.

In distinction, there’s now “a large body of scientific evidence on the positive impacts of CSE,” corresponding to contributing to delaying the age of first sexual activity, decreasing the variety of sexual companions, and encouraging using condoms and other contraceptives, she stated.

Within the area, 4 out of every 5 pregnancies to mothers aged 15 to 19 are unplanned, and this drives up maternal mortality rates, in accordance with UNFPA’s State of World Population 2018 report.

In Mexico, a rustic of 129 million individuals, there are 350,000 pregnancies to women and adolescents yearly, greater than half of which are undesirable, in response to the International Deliberate Parenthood Federation.

The nation, the place 23 % of adolescent women aged 12 to 19 are sexually lively, in response to official research, has had a National Strategy for the Prevention of Teen Pregnancy since 2015, which includes CSE, and in 2016 reached 70.6 % of students.

Nevertheless, “the majority is concentrated in secondary education,” stated Valeria Vasquez of EligeMexico, a community of young individuals for sexual and reproductive rights in a rustic that international organizations rank as having the very best fee of kid sexual abuse in the world.

Their impacts are additionally unclear. “The phenomenon is complex and having achieved an integral approach is a major stride forward, but it also implies being more rigorous in its implementation and, above all, in its evaluation,” she advised IPS from Mexico City.

Mexico, Latin America’s second-biggest nation in phrases of inhabitants and measurement, acquired a new president one month earlier than Brazil did. But in the case of Mexico, the brand new leader is on the left, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has promised a serious instructional reform, which would strengthen CSE.

However Vasquez fears that the legislative alliance of the ruling get together, the Nationwide Renewal Movement (MORENA), with the center-right Social Encounter Get together, will hinder the president’s election marketing campaign pledge to advance CSE and make decreasing teen being pregnant one of many prime priorities.

“The biggest worry is the ambiguity of their positions on these issues,” with solutions corresponding to “it will be put up for consultation” with the brand new officers, she stated, in a country the place the Catholic Church has imposed critical conservative setbacks in issues corresponding to the proper to abortion.

But one constructive thing, in her view, is that “more and more spaces are opening up for discussion on these issues. Either because of pressure from organized civil society, or because of the arrival of people in these spaces with ideas similar to those of people who are involved in social struggles,” stated Vasquez.

For Pitanguy, in the case of Brazil, “there was a delay and inefficiency on the part of progressive sectors in responding to this conservative onslaught” and in preventing towards the new “narrative on morals and customs” in a rustic governed by the leftist Staff’ Get together between 2003 and 2016.

It is necessary to “consider the complexity of this socio-political and cultural situation and expand efforts to defend the spaces gained by CSE,” renovating, among different things, advocacy and communication strategies and rethinking alliances, concluded Camacho, the regional skilled.


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