RH Reflection and Why We Haven’t Found the Solution
BANGKOK – As the Philippines clears the way for the implementation of a hardfought Reproductive Health Law, it may find that reaping all the benefits for which the law is intended will continue to demand holistic, complicated interventions. On the battlefront against teen pregnancies, for one, experience in Thailand suggests that greater access to contraceptives will not necessarily or immediately bring down alarming figures.
In fact, even though the overall birthrate is dropping, teen births are on the rise. Out of every 1,000 live births, 54 are from teen mothers aged 15-19 – higher than in the United States and ten times higher than Singapore’s teen pregnancy rate.
What’s more, it’s rising fast. The number of live births by Thai teenage mothers aged 15-18 increased 43 percent between 2000 and 2011, a Thai annual public health report shows.
Though there are many factors responsible, health experts put weight on cultural mores that make frank discussion of the issue difficult, whether in an official context or a personal one. This is complicated by gender issues.
“Women are told to protect their virginity but Thai men who have multiple sexual encounters are seen as cool,” said Visa Benjamano, a commissioner at the Thai National Human Rights Council (NHRC).
“If men sleep around, their image is not at stake whereas a woman’s image is. Women are generally more afraid to discuss their sexual health needs in public.”
I’ve blogged about the law when it was still a bill, click here to read .
But again I feel like we are not getting to the root of the problem. We might have an RH law but still miss the whole point. We all know that the law does not guarantee success. Law has its limitations – it is a good guide but it will never give us the life we want.
In the case of Thailand, they experience lesser births among legitimate mothers but saw an increase in teenage pregnancy. Why? Because the law empowers every woman to have access to contraceptives. To translate – it means the law empowers them to actually have sex and have it more.
So the real problem lies within each and everyone of us. The law no matter how good we implement it would not solve man’s/ woman’s lust for sex.
It would take deliberate effort for us to fight for what really matters. It means the energy the pro and anti RH camp could use their energy to fight on big issues like:
– sexual trafficking
– the rampant sexual objectification of women in movies and radio show and media.
We fight for women empowerment while media continues to dish out movies on adultery, illicit sex and sleazy billboards. Our children are exposed to FHM magazines in bookstores and other porn materials. We are hitting the wrong target.
As what the news article said, ” We teach our young people that virginity is precious but we portray men and women having pre-marital sex as cool. The irony of it all.