Breaking taboo on sexual and reproductive education is a must as it is a right of adolescent boys and girls to learn about these matters for living a better life, experts at a roundtable observed.
Prothom Alo, in association with Unite for Body Rights (UBR) and Kingdom of Nedtherlands, organised the roundtable on sexual and reproductive health rights of youth on Sunday.
Talking about physical changes the adolescent undergoes can benefit the them in various ways, the speakers addressed.
Some pointed out that although sexual and reproductive health education has been incorporated in syllabus, teachers often show reluctance to take classes on these issues.
Executive director of Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) and former adviser to a caretaker government Rasheda K Chowdhury said it is the duty of the state to provide basic sex and reproductive education to adolescents.
Today’s youth are getting all sorts of knowledge by means of technology. It’s our duty to give them informed choice in time and also counter arguments against all the prevalent negativity, she added.
Rasheda said that we have to see whether the teachers are willing and interested to teach the youth about reproductive health.
Director of secondary and higher education Prabir Kumar Bhattacharya said the government is trying to break the barriers on sexual and reproductive education.
He urged the stakeholders, outside of the government, to also come forward so that adolescents can freely share their problems.
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and Gender’s senior policy advisor Mushfiqa Zaman Satiar said getting sexual and reproductive education is a basic right of adolescents.
They must be taught about these matters for a healthy future, she added.
UNICEF’s education specialist Iqbal Hossain underscored the need for providing the adolescent right source of information.
Bangladesh Nari Pragati Sangha’s (BNPS) executive director Rokeya Kabir said it is corruption if teachers want to skip classes on reproductive health.
Nari Pakkha’s member UM Habibun Nesa said the youth should be allowed to speak openly about reproductive organs as these are like any other organs of the body.
Population Services and Training Center’s executive director Noor Mohammad said 55 per cent girls are still married off before 18 years age.
Early marriage infringes upon basic human rights of a girl, he said.
Sharing their experiences, youth representatives Monimukta and Alamin said they became aware about reproductive and sexual health by attending various training programmes of UBR.
Unite for Body Rights’ (UBR) joint director Kollol Chowdhury in his presentation said change of mindset, capacity building of teachers, disseminating correct information on social media should be prioritised to increase awareness on necessity of sexual and reproductive health.
Prothom Alo associate editor Abdul Quayyum in his welcome speech urged the parents and teachers to discuss about sexual and reproductive health openly.
Bandhu Social Welfare Society’s executive director Shale Ahmed, BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health’s dean Sabina Faiz Rashid, Sexual Reproductive Health Rights’ consultant Julia Ahmed, Bangladesh Association for Prevention of Septic Abortion’s executive director Altaf Hossain, and UBR coordinator Sharmin Farhat Ubaid, spoke at the programme.
Prothom Alo special affairs coordinator Firoz Choudhury conducted the roundtable.