World Con­tra­cep­tion Day (Septem­ber 26, 2018)

Palawan News - - OPINION - Amina Evan­ge­lista Swanepoel WOMEN'S WRITES

When young peo­ple don t get ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion from trusted adults like par­ents or teach­ers, they will look for an­swers among their friends. So Annabelle asks her clos­est girl­friends what they know about sex.

Septem­ber 26 is World Con­tra­cep­tion Day. It is a day to high­light the enor­mous ben­e­fit that con­tra­cep­tion brings to mil­lions of lives world­wide.

I was in­vited to speak to­day at a World Con­tra­cep­tion Day event held at the Univer­sity of the Philip­pines cam­pus in Dil­i­man. I had been asked to speak about the chal­lenges that Filip­inas face in ac­cess­ing con­tra­cep­tion. To il­lus­trate my points, I shared the story of Annabelle.

Annabelle is 15 and has a 23- year- old boyfriend named Jonas. They’ve been to­gether for a while, and Jonas has started talk­ing about want­ing to have sex.

Annabelle doesn’t know much about sex.

She does go to school, but she lives in the Philip­pines, so her school does not have a “com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al­ity ed­u­ca­tion” cur­ricu­lum. All she knows about sex is that her mom says it’s bas­tos and bawal ( vul­gar and for­bid­den), and she’s sup­posed to wait un­til she’s mar­ried.

When young peo­ple don’t get ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion from trusted adults like par­ents or teach­ers, they will look for an­swers among their friends. So Annabelle asks her clos­est girl­friends what they know about sex.

Her friends also live in the Philip­pines and also haven’t had com­pre­hen­sive sex ed, so Annabelle gets bad in­for­ma­tion. Her friends tell her that if it’s her first time to have sex, she can’t get preg­nant. They tell her if she jumps up and down af­ter sex, she won’t get preg­nant.

So Annabelle and her boyfriend have sex once. She thinks she’s pro­tected since it’s her first time. But then Jonas wants to have sex again. Annabelle is wor­ried she might get preg­nant. Luck­ily she has a young cousin who al­ready has a baby. Her cousin tells her if she doesn’t want to get preg­nant, she should use con­tra­cep­tion.

Annabelle doesn’t know any­thing about con­tra­cep­tion and has only heard that it can make peo­ple sick, but she’s will­ing to try.

If she was rich, Annabelle would be able to go to a pri­vate clinic or go to a phar­macy and buy her own con­doms. But Annabelle is poor, so she has to find a place where she can get con­tra­cep­tives for free.

So she goes to a health cen­ter. When she gets there, she finds out that the health cen­ter does not have any sup­plies of pills and con­doms, only the in­jectable DMPA. But she’ll have to pay 100 pe­sos for them to give her that be­cause sup­plies are lim­ited.

What usu­ally hap­pens at govern­ment health cen­ters hap­pens to Annabelle – be­fore she can get any more in­for­ma­tion, the nurse asks her how old she is. She says she’s 15. The nurse im­me­di­ately starts scold­ing her and sham­ing her, telling her she shouldn’t be hav­ing sex, and that she’s go­ing to tell Annabelle’s mother what she’s do­ing. The nurse also tells her that she can’t have con­tra­cep­tives any­way un­til she’s 18 un­less she has parental con­sent.

This hap­pens to most young girls who try to ac­cess con­tra­cep­tives, es­pe­cially if they are un­mar­ried or don’t have a baby yet.

But let’s pre­tend for a minute that Annabelle found a health cen­ter that’s more pro­gres­sive, and that has a res­i­dent doc­tor or so­cial worker who be­lieves in help­ing youth help them­selves. Let’s say the so­cial worker or doc­tor gives proxy con­sent for Annabelle for con­tra­cep­tion, and let’s pre­tend the health cen­ter has all con­tra­cep­tive meth­ods

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