Every 21st of September is celebrated in Bolivia on the day of the student, of love and youth. Flowers are handed out, heart-shaped stuffed animals are given away, couples are seen holding hands everywhere. Spring arrives and dreamy youth is happy with contagious smiles, wanting to experience unforgettable adventures.
However, that seemingly eternal happiness can turn in moments of anguish when, the fruit of that adolescent and youthful love, faces violent courtship, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, HIV – AIDS, abortions performed under risky conditions and even maternal mortality.
Talking about sexuality is still considered taboo, an issue that is not to be talked about and that is embarrassing, in a society where conservative postures predominate and adolescent sex education is denied in an integral and secular way. However, this does not prevent young people and adolescents from exploring their sexuality and opening theself to sexual experiences, most of the time, without adequate information and at risk.
Bolivia is currently among the countries with the highest incidence of adolescent pregnancy in the region. According to the recent State of the World Status report from the United Nations Population Fund, out of every 1,000 women, 88 babies are born to mothers aged 15 to 19, and 18% of adolescentgirls between the ages of 15 and 19 have already been mothers or are pregnant.
One of the causes of increased teenage pregnancy is absence of comprehensive sexuality education in schools. But also the lack of informed access to contraception, lack of differentiated care for adolescents and lack of prevention of violence in courtship and sexual violence. Young people and adolescents have a sex life without proper information, education or health.
Even though bolivia legislation is advanced in terms of sexuality, including the Political Constitution of the State recognizes sexual rights and reproductive rights, it is important for the state to expand adolescent access to comprehensive and secular sex education, to sexual and reproductive health and prevention.
Gioconda Dieguez ( @