World Population Day Today
Mandatory sex education for adolescents, youths stressed
Nineteen-year-old Sabita Roy (not her real name) from Jharbhanga village under Batiaghata in Khulna was abandoned by her husband Asutosh (29) for the last three years because of her incapability of becoming a mother.
Sabita lost her fertility after taking contraceptive pills at the suggestion from a village doctor for quite a long time to regulate her menstruation.
Such incidents in rural Bangladesh is numerous as young boys and adolescent girls are totally uneducated about sexual and reproductive health, maternal health, HIV/ AIDs prevention care, menstrual hygiene management and family planning.
Many health experts think that non-availability of information on family planning and Sexual and Reproductive Health is posing serious threat to the heaths of young people and adolescent married couples.
They noted that sex education is hindered by stigma as teachers are reluctant to discuss Sexual and Reproductive Health issues.
They think that the government should set up adolescent corners across the country.
There are 29.5 million adolescents in Bangladesh, including 14.4 million girls and 15.1 million boys, together represent nearly one-fifth of the country's total population of 144 million, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, Population Census 2011.
This significant number of adolescents and young married couples can fall in a difficult situation due to lack of proper knowledge on reproductive and family planning, said Molla Mahmud, a family planning expert. Khandokar Mahbud Rahman, Assistant Director, Directorate of Family Planning (information education and motivation unit) said that Sexual Reproductive Health ( SRH) is still a cultural taboo, especially for adolescents and young people.
"Parents do not feel comfortable discussing Sexual and Reproductive Health issues with their adolescent children and schools provide very limited or no information on this issue. This is a big challenge for us," he added. Asked what possible steps the government has taken to address this issue, he said the government has taken an initiative to construct adolescent corners in every union parishad.
Besides, government has set up Satellite clinic in every union parishad where health workers will give primary information on health and family planning services to remote populations.
"We will set up an adolescent corner there. There are Upazila Health Complex, Mother and Children Care Centre in the district level so that an adolescent corner will be available there too," he said.
Dr Abu Sayed Hassan, Programme Specialist on Sexual and Reproductive Health, UNFPA said in Bangladesh the family planning services for adolescents are very poor.
There is no doubt that Bangladesh has developed in many regards including decreasing the number of mother mortality rate, girls education and so on, but the recent trend in regards of using various methods of family planning has seriously fallen down.
Asked about the possible steps, he said the government must provide appropriate comprehensive sexual education in the school.
In this regards he said that most of the teachers are influenced by social taboos and religious values which obstruct them to teach about reproductive health and other related issues.