As usual, the Brazilian president caused a stir with an abstinence campaign that advises young people not to have sex.
Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil. / Photo: Reuters
LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza
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Leer en español: Bolsonaro le dice no al sexo
On February 2, Jair Bolsonaro's government announced the campaign with which he hopes to reduce teenage pregnancy in Brazil through abstinence. Through Damares Alves, Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights, it was announced that the government will launch the program that was designed with the help of evangelical pastors who created the “I chose to wait” campaign.
O @minsaude e o @DHumanosBrasil lançaram hoje a campanha de prevenção à gravidez na adolescência. Pais e responsáveis, abram o diálogo em casa. Adolescência primeiro. Gravidez depois. #tudotemseutempo pic.twitter.com/otdoS3630v— Damares Alves (@DamaresAlves) February 3, 2020
Alves, in fact, said that young people should wait for marriage to have sex and argued that at parties teenagers can have fun without having sex. Through her Twitter account, the minister has defended herself from those who have criticized the measure.
The official said that “the government's proposal is a 'plus', an 'update' in the current policy that advocates the use of contraceptives. Condom use will continue to be encouraged. This is not going to change". And she concluded by saying that "I will continue to say that the controversy is only maintained because the media insist on comparing our proposal with other experiences that exclusively preach abstinence."
Mas a proposta do governo é um "plus", um "upgrade" na atual política que prega o uso de contraceptivos. O uso de preservativos vai continuar sendo estimulado. Isso não vai mudar.— Damares Alves (@DamaresAlves) February 3, 2020
The campaign is launched after it became known that Brazil could once again experience the crisis of the 1990s. At that time, for every 1000 births, 80 corresponded to teenage pregnancies. Currently, according to a United Nations report published last year, out of every 1,000 births, 62 correspond to teenagers. The world average is 44 per 1000.
In addition to births, the spread of HIV is added. The Brazilian Ministry of Health reported that there were 43,941 new cases of this disease in 2019. This means an increase of 41% compared to 2014.
Abstinence VS. Sex education
The abstinence campaign has aroused criticism in different sectors, both political and reproductive rights. The signs are born especially for two reasons. On the one hand, according to UNICEF, teenage pregnancy is fought with access to contraceptives and timely sex education. On the other hand, the union of the government with a religious sector opens the debate on the separation of the State with the Church.
Regarding sex education, different studies prove what UNICEF says. Access to contraceptive methods and sexual information decreases the number of unwanted teenage pregnancies and the spread of sexual diseases. NY interviewed the expert Leslie Kantor, a professor at the School of Public Health at Rutgers University, who said that "the idea of limiting or delaying sex education may seem politically convenient, but ultimately it is bad."
Kantor added that “the risk is that people do not receive sex education later. If you do not receive it at school, you will not receive it at the altar ”, referring to waiting to get married is not a security mechanism.
In political matters, according to El Espectador, the religious sector supported the president to reach the presidency, since Bolsonaro is against abortion, sex education classes and gender ideology. The right-wing president said the left promoted young people to have sex at an early age. In addition, last year he asked the Ministry of Health to withdraw informational flyers on sexual and reproductive health by containing images of the human body that were "not suitable for children."
In statements collected by The New York Times, Debora Diniz, a Brazilian law professor, and reproductive rights activist said that “we have twenty years of public health studies around the world that show not only that abstinence policies are not effective, but they have terrible consequences in terms of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. ”