Chilean Youth care about Sexual and Reproductive Rights

Avatar Pao Suárez
Member since February 13, 2014
  • 31 Posts
  • Age 23

Chile is the so called “big brother” of the region because of its strength and confidence generated by its institutions, which is invariably admired in most Latin-American countries.. also for young people this place is great, Santiago specifically has a vibrant nightlife, accessible outdoor activities and a wide range of multicultural festivities.

However life in Chile is more expensive than in most Latin-American counties, and also a OECD (Through the Development centre on Latin America) study revealed that Chile is one of the most unequal country worldwide. Considering this uneven context, youth is a bit more than a struggling stage that involves education, employment, self-consciousness, social integration and exercise of sovereignty.

Aheavy load relies upon our shoulders, which has partially led to an inevitable social effervescence arising as a result of a “debt” that the Chilean state has towards people in terms of Human Rights and constitutional aspects for example Chile is the only country in the world were a constitution made in dictatorship has remained valid after returning to democracy (Garretón,2013)

As time has gone by, the youth has installed in the public eye, the government answer for that was to create an agency that collaborates with the executive branch with designing, planning, coordinating and executing of policies concerning youth under the name of National Institute of Youth (INJUV for its acronym in Spanish), this agency also generates programs involving social inclusion and participation to empower young people (15-29 y/o);

The INJUV periodically conducts national surveys to identify and evaluate the topics that should be addressed in terms of youth interests , this years it´s taking place online and the webpage constantly exposes the importance the issues have insofar as they are voted , people can vote among many topics that involve sexual and reproductive rights, political participation and social manifestation, bullying and school violence, discrimination, environmental welfare, youth work and volunteering (people can also add a topic if they think they care about something not listed) , the results show varying interests in the regions where people vote but the national results are all condensed in a national graphic that currently shows that the topics young people care the most are:

a. Reproductive Rights

b. Decriminalization of marijuana

c. Sexual diversity

Taking into account that Chile like most Latin-American countries is driven by the delusion of being a developed country, society has had to step back on certain topics to maintain the rhythm under which Chile has managed to move through international relations and it is expressed in a silent polarization, that has caused a biased focus given to very important issues, one of them is taking hold now as shown by the poll : sexual and reproductive rights (*SRR from now on).

In Chile SRR debate has triggered a great discussion that involves values, religion, political postures and much more, and the issue is not simply a discussion between the parts, a real witch-hunt takes place when it comes to talking about SRR, and almost a sort of evil tag is put on social segments that agree with higher quality standards on protection and praxis of sexual and reproductive services

In case you didn’t know here´s a little tip:

“Chile is one of a handful of countries that would allow a woman to die before permitting her to have an abortion. This has not always been the case. The Health Code of 1931 allowed abortion to save a woman’s life, but the dictator Augusto Pinochet eliminated that exception in 1989, when he criminalized abortion without exception as one of his last acts before relinquishing power. ” Susan Wood for the International Women´s Health Coalition (IWHC)

But not only abortion is criminalized without exception, also Sexual and reproductive services are tight in remote regions, which affects specially poor women. This among other situations is accompanied by low sexual and reproductive healthcare education and the numbers are astonishing; it is estimated that at least 70,000 abortions take place each year in Chile; that a vast amount of poor women still self-practice abortion under dangerous circumstances and with unsanitary methods (1) Also a JUNJI (national board of kindergartens), UNIESCO and UNICEF research showed that by 2010 50% of pregnancies in Chile were not planned (2) and by 2011, 50% of non-planed pregnancies happened to GIRLS, between the ages of 15 and 19 y/o. (3).

Facts and commentaries could go on and on about the topic but returning to the core of the text I´m guessing I´ve made clear that SRR is a conflicting topic but it is gaining relevance thanks to the youth. It is necessary to highlight that young people should be the ones placing the SRR topic in their national agenda because sexual and reproductive healthcare is a fundamental aspect concerning to youth, as it is during this stage (specifically around 16 -18) that the average male and female worldwide starts their sex life and a comprehensive approach on that new “side of life” becomes essential as healthy, responsible and happy young people and future adults.

Now that we´ve had a look on the panoramic picture, let´s look closely to the topic itself. Twenty years ago at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) - Cairo - Sexual and Reproductive rights were recognized as Human Rights, and the international community was called to enforce SRR ,which includes mobilizing human and physical resources that protect people and their health.

Young people engaging to speak up about their SSR is definitely a “good symptom” that shows how introspection, investigation and a wide notion of the common weal enable changes that save lives, far from trying to indoctrinate people to believe something is right or wrong effort should be made into understanding that people´s sexual and reproductive life should be comprehensive, scientifically accurate, culturally and age appropriate, gender-sensitive and life skills-based to help avoid unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions and be better equipped to face other challenges specially through youth, giving us the possibility to generate positive impact in social, political and economic issues having in mind that SRR go from HIV-AIDS to female genital mutilation.

If you want to know more you can check this video about sexual and reproductive health and rights made by the European Free Alliance à

O check the “My Body My Rights” Campaign launched by Amnesty International à

comments powered by Disqus