Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) plays an essential role in the health and well-being of all people. Having CSE in schools will provide children and adolescents with an education based on the promotion, protection and exercise of their human rights.
Despite the efforts and implementation of strategies by various state agencies, there is no significant decrease in adolescent pregnancy. During the two years of confinement, we have presented cases of sexual violence and forced unions, especially in adolescents who required counselling on their sexual and reproductive health. In 2020 alone, the most critical year of the pandemic in Peru, 1,158 adolescents under the age of 15 became mothers, according to INEI.
The Demographic and Family Health Survey (Endes, 2021) reveals that, of the 8.9 per cent of pregnancies registered in women aged 15-19, only 33.6 per cent completed primary school. The same source indicates that 6.9 per cent of women aged 15-49 have suffered physical violence by their husband or partner in the last 12 months and, of this figure, 1.8 per cent admit to having been sexually abused by their partner. Furthermore, in 2021, 146 femicides and 123 attempted femicides were perpetrated, according to the Ombudsman's Office.
This is why, if we empower women from a young age with education, support and access to services so that they can exercise their sexual and reproductive rights, we will advance in the construction of gender equality with a rights-based approach.
The Comprehensive Sex Education Guidelines for Regular Basic Education (RVM-169-2021-MINEDU) were approved almost a year ago. From Inppares, we have promoted the first network of CSE advocate teachers at national level, in order to contribute through them to the empowerment of students, collaborating in their self-knowledge, self-care, relationships and sexuality; helping them to cope in a world where violence, gender-based inequalities, unplanned teenage pregnancies, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) continue to pose serious risks to their health and wellbeing.
As civil society, we regret that children and adolescents continue to be recurrent victims of various forms of violence. The experiences they go through are harrowing and in most cases are faced alone. It affects them physically, psychologically and socially and, for the most part, prevents them from fulfilling their dreams and life projects.
With regard to the legal framework, we are lagging behind in comparison with other countries in the region. In Latin America, six countries have laws that promote Comprehensive Sexuality Education (Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Uruguay). Meanwhile, in our country, achieving a norm with the status of law seems to be getting further and further away with initiatives such as the recent bill 904-2021-CR, which seeks to allow certain groups of parents' associations to supervise educational texts and materials without having the technical and pedagogical requirements to carry out such an important task.
It is due to this ungrateful reality that we advocate for gender equality, healthy relationships, healthy sexual behaviour and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections from a positive, scientific, educational perspective, promoting a culture of prevention and emphasising values such as respect, inclusion, non-discrimination, equality, empathy, responsibility and reciprocity.
From civil society, we advocate politically and publicly in favour of CSE, through alliances and constant dialogue with stakeholders, authorities, organisations, journalists, teachers and adolescents and young people, with the aim of influencing public policies, promoting the sexual and reproductive well-being of people living in Peru, as well as the free exercise of their rights.
Irma Ramos Executive Director of Inppares