Religion hindering sexuality education in Pacific

Pacific Island countries have been challenged to to rally against religious conservatism to ensure young people can make informed decisions about sex and pregnancy.

The call was made by Papua New Guinea MP Dame Carol Kidu  who was among several Pacific politicians attending the New Zealand Parliamentarians’ Group on Population and Development’s annual meeting in Wellington. The focus of the meeting this year is  the sexual and reproductive health and rights of Pacific adolescents.

“The religious conservatism, we’ve got to work at it subtly and gently, I know, but we have to move fairly fast because there are people dying, there are people dying of HIV who should not be dying because they’re too ashamed to go and get treatment – it shouldn’t be happening, young people, good young people,” said Kidu.

A New Zealand politician attending the meeting said there is a risk of a Pacific population explosion if Pacific Island teenagers are not given better sexuality education and access to sexual health and reproductive services.

“We know that 56 per cent of the population in Pacific island countries is under 25 and the next generation or two there will be a doubling of that population and quite frankly the countries cannot sustain that,” says  Dr Jackie Blue.

She says that any sexuality education occurring in Pacific Island countries is done “in a very haphazard and patchy way” and there is no standardised sort of format or information that’s given out.

Dr Blue is a National Party list MP and  chairwoman of the New Zealand Parliamentarians’ Group on Population and Development.

The  NZPPD provides a forum for New Zealand parliamentarians to engage and act on international population and development issues. It is a cross party group, with currently 45 members representing just under 40 percent of all New Zealand MPs.



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News category: Asia Pacific.

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