Sexual and Reproductive health is more than putting on a condom correctly. This weekend 26 Red Cross Youth Volunteers were trained to be facilitators in the topic of young health.
Youth peer educators contribute positively to achieving the third of the Sustainable Development Goals namely to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Increasing access to information about sexual and reproductive health benefits individuals and communities through reduced sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies and increased acceptance of sexual orientations and people living with HIV. Not only that, discussions related to differing expectations to girls and boys challenged gender norms for what girls and boys can and cannot do came up in our safe space.
I am a boy, a girl or a human being?
What girls and boys can and cannot do is not only related to dating and whether sexual activity can happen before marriage. It is also related to how boys and girls are expected to dress and behave in ways that meets socially acceptable views of masculinity or femininity. But what do you do if you are biologically a boy but you feel like a girl? Or you are a girl preferring to act more masculine and dress like the opposite sex? What if you don´t feel like either? In Nepal there are three legal genders a person can identify as in ID papers; female, male or third gender. In Norway on the other hand people can only identify as two legal genders; male or female in ID papers.
A representative from Blue Diamond Society held a workshop with the youth. He shared information and discussed sexuality, sexual orientation and how it is to live as a LGBTQI in Nepal, a country where same sex relationships are legal but not socially acceptable. The youth were curious and got answers to their questions in a safe zone.
Contraceptives for family planning and STD prevention
A nurse from Damauli Hospital provided information about reproductive health and pregnancy. Her lecture had a family planning-focus as it is important for young people to know about how pregnancy works as well as how to prevent pregnancy by different types of contraceptive usage; be it condoms, birth control etc. Additionally she shared information about various sexually transmitted diseases focusing especially on HIV/AIDS. Condoms should be used to avoid HIV transmission. No condom, no sex. In an effort to reduce stigma towards people living with HIV, the nurse shared that when on medicines a HIV positive person can live a holistic life. To prevent HIV transmission, stigma towards the ca 39,000 persons living with HIV in Nepal must also continue to decrease. And here youth can continue to make a difference by breaking myths and stigma.
Setting boundaries and respecting boundaries
Sexual and gender based violence is a challenge facing youth, especially girls, across the world, be it in Nepal or Norway. It must be prevented and stopped.
A Public Health Officer from the Tanahun Health Department addressed the issue of sexual and gender based violence sharing the new procedures of reporting rape and sexual harassment to the police through health stations to ensure sensitive assistance. This is especially important as cases often go unreported due to stigma towards the survivor. Other aspects of the training focused on the essential mutual and active consent in relations and sexuality. This included practical activities to set boundaries for one´s own body and respecting the boundaries of another person. Additionally, throughout the training it was highlighted that without active consent, a clear yes, then sexual acts should not be done.
Information and knowledge continues to spread after training
With this introduction to sexual and reproductive health the youth volunteers will now bring the information back to their youth circles and communities for more youth to learn the same.
A reporter from Damauli local radio came by to interview the youth about sexual health among youth. Thus the information gained at the training, reached further than the 26 participants and members in Red Cross Youth Circles.