Jakarta. A national adolescent sexual and reproductive health conference hosted by five civil society organizations hopes to be the start of a movement educating Indonesia’s youth about the importance of staying sexually safe and healthy.
“Raising awareness and boosting knowledge about sexual and reproduction health among the country’s young people is urgent and extremely important,” said Yuli Evina Bhara, a member of the organizing committee.
Social groups including Yogyakarta-based Seperlima, Hivos, PKBI, Pamplet and the University of Indonesia (UI)’s Gender Studies Center all took part in the conference, which was supported by the Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta.
The conference was opened by Hasto Wardoyo, the head of Yogyakarta’s Kulon Progo district, and was attended by 100 youths from several districts across Indonesia.
Participants from Timor-Leste and Vietnam also took part to share their experiences and views on sexual health awareness throughout the region.
The conference suggested that sexual violence toward teenagers could be prevented by equipping them with a comprehensive and credible education of reproductive health as part of the school curriculum. It also emphasized that sex education was important during the transition from childhood to becoming healthy, informed young adults.
Going beyond maintaining sexual health and avoiding infection and disease, the conference touched on the psychological aspects of sexual relationships, empowerment and anti-violence skills.
Separately, Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa said sexual and reproductive education should be taught in Indonesia’s schools.
“There should a subject containing reproductive health lessons to educate students at school once a week,” she said on Sunday as quoted by Liputan6.com. “Here, the teacher could give comprehensive information to students.”
The National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) has reported victims of sexual violence in Indonesia grow younger each year.
The most common ages of victims currently ranges from between 13 and 18 years old. The commission called on the community to raise awareness of the issue and pressure the government to do more to prevent violence against girls and young women.
“We have to work together to solve this pressing problem,” Evina said.