Awareness sought about reproductive health rights

Jamshoro: Most parents and teachers are reluctant to discuss sensitive issues with children and inform them about the physical and emotional aspects of puberty, which pushes them to seek information from unreliable sources and exposes them to exploitation.

This finding was derived from a baseline study conducted by ‘Lifeline’.

Addressing a press conference, Chief Executive of Life-Line Omer Aftab said that there was a severe vacuum of information in the 100 million plus Pakistani youth. To date, no serious, concerted efforts have been made to sensitize them on their basic rights. Without proper guidance, youth falls into bad ways and is scarred for life.

The objective of the study was to “gauge and assess the level of understanding of different key stakeholders about adolescent & youth sexual and reproductive health right SRHR issues”. Data was collected from 9 districts of Pakistan, including Islamabad, Lahore, Lodhran, Karachi, Jamshoro, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Quetta and Pishin.

Adolescents, parents, teachers, politicians, religious leaders, EDO’s, District Managers of Population Welfare Departments and NGO representatives of the select districts made the target respondents for the study.

Sixty Two percent girls and sixty seven percent boys in Islamabad have heard about their reproductive health rights, as compared to only 39% girls and 50% boys in Lahore and 53% girls and 48% boys in Karachi.

Omer Aftab also dispelled false impressions that have nothing to do with religion but centuries old rites and customs of this region. “Our religion does not forbid us from discussing or imparting proper guidance to the children on these sensitive issues.”

The study showed that 85.3% girls, 94.6% boys and 99% of all politicians, teachers, journalists and religious leaders endorse the idea of teaching sexual and reproductive health in schools.