December 4, 2012 (Pop.org) – The debate over a new Code on Childhood and Adolescence is raging in Peru. On the one side are UNICEF, UNFPA, Save the Children and a coalition of abortion-minded and radical feminist groups, many, if not most, of whom are foreign funded. These groups believe that the most important “rights of the child” center around so-called “sexual and reproductive rights.” They encourage the early onset of sexual activity and massive condom distribution schemes for kids as young as 14 to deal with the increased risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases that will result.
On the other side are the Catholic Church, pro-life NGOs and, of course, PRI, who believe that sexual pleasure, while it has its place, is not the main point of human life. Science shows that sex is best in lifelong monogamous relationships called marriages, and that condoms are a flimsy excuse for lack of self control in sexual matters that, in the fumbling fingers of adolescents, do little to stop either pregnancy or disease.
The debate centers around Article 27 of the Code, which is called “Rights to Sexual and Reproductive Health.” To understand what this phrase means, we have to go back to the Action Programme of the International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994. “Reproductive rights” was there advanced as a panacea for poverty, by those who believed that the only thing necessary to eradicate the poor was the widespread availability of legal abortion, sterilization on demand, and free contraception, along with enough sex education to overcome the reluctance of women and children to access these “health services.”
It is thus no surprise that pro-abortion NGOs such as Manuela Ramos and PROMSEX are heavily promoting this initiative. The new “sexual and reproductive rights” being added to our legal framework would pave the way for the legalization of abortion.
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“Reproductive and Sexual Rights Services”
Article 27 mandates that the government provide, for teenagers 14 years of age and older, access to “information, guidance, and sexual and reproductive health services.” It is important to note how mechanistic the information provided in sex-ed courses is, and how it totally lacks what would commonly be understood as “guidance.” The training of character and education in morals is considered to be irrelevant. The emotional and psychological needs of children and adolescents are ignored. Children are reduced to their genitalia.
Contraceptives would be distributed to teenagers without the foreknowledge or consent of their parents or guardians. Such contraceptives would include invasive methods such as IUDs or Depo-Provera injections, along with the indiscriminate distribution of condoms. So-called “confidential sexual health services” could also include vasectomies or tubal ligations. Parents are to be shut out from making medical decisions about their children if the treatment has anything to do with sex, an arbitrary and indefensible violation of parent’s rights.
UNICEF defends this attack on parents and their children by alleging that high rates of teen pregnancy demand action. But they undercut their own arguments by portraying their initiative as an effort to help adolescents achieve “sexual freedom,” that is, “the ability to decide when to initiate a sexual life.” The principal goal of such a “sexual life” is, in the view of the U.N., pleasure seeking. Avoiding pregnancy and avoiding sexually transmitted diseases are just secondary goals.
Phony Studies Refuted
The UN agency and its allies defends its efforts to sexualize the young by citing “studies” that they themselves have carried out and published. Independent and objective scientific studies paint a very different picture on age of sexual initiation.
– A 2002 study by the group, Surveillance of Citizens Rights in Health, gave the average age of adolescent sexual initiation as “16.8 years old in men and the 18.9 years old in women.” However, the study went on to note that “there are large variations between regions and educational levels”.
– The Ministry of Health of Peru carried out a 2010 Global School Health Survey among students in their 2nd, 3rd and 4th year of secondary education. These students, who were 14, 15, and 16 years of age, reported that only 19.7% of their number (28.3% of boys and 11.1% of girls) had had intercourse.
– According to the ongoing ENDES 2011 survey of demography and family health, the median age of first sexual intercourse is 19.0 years in urban areas and 17.7 years in rural areas.
The late onset of sexual activity in Peru suggests that any program to encourage “sexual and reproductive rights” will only encourage sexual activity among teenagers and result in higher rates of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
UNICEF attempts to justify its push for sexual rights for kids by suggesting that they are already sufficiently developed both physically and psychologically to decide whether or not to have intercourse. This, as any parent of a 14-year-old can tell you, is patent nonsense.
The reason why Peruvian law, like the laws of most countries, considers adolescents under the age of 18 to be “juveniles” is precisely because they do not possess the mental maturity to be considered adults. Why would we exempt matters of sexuality from the general protection that we afford, through parents, guardians, and the law itself, to young people under the age of 18? The earlier the onset of sexual activity, the more likely it is to place the moral, psychological, and physical health of the young at risk. Such a change in the law would weaken existing legal protections against sexual abuse and exploitation currently enjoyed by the young.
The imposition of “sexual and reproductive rights” on Peru’s children should be resisted. The claim that such an agenda serves to “protect childhood and adolescence” is the obverse of the truth. There is nothing more dangerous to the the child than this effort to make him or her, in matters of sexuality, a free agent, unprotected by either the law or parental love.
It is a strange and perverted agenda that has reduced the Convention on the Rights of the Child to this.
Reprinted with permission from the Population Research Institute.