Press Release:-A comprehensive study on adolescent health in the Caribbean among 16,000 adolescents in nine countries in the region of which St. Lucia was one, concludes that 34.0% of them had sexual intercourse before age 19. Of those responding positively, 64% had had their sexual debut before age 12. In many cases, first intercourse was or is forced, which highlights the underlying issue of gender based sexual violence. Therefore we need strategies for prevention and response. NOT a change in laws to the age of consent.
In Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis the laws are silent on the issue of whether a child can seek medical advice or treatment including contraceptive information without parental consent. In the St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, the age at which a minor may consent to medicals without parental consent is 16.
No Law or Humanitarian efforts can bring about a remedy. Only a radical change of heart, new life if possible, can produce the condition whereby communal life is possible without hostility or fear. Therefore the solutions should be not in change of laws by increasing the age of consent but rather by a number of strategies.
- Consultation with relevant stakeholders
- Empowerment of young people with the skills in reference to their values
- Social interventions to protect our children not penalize them.
- Provision of parenting skills for especially for young mothers.
- Comprehensive sexuality education for youth empowerment Comprehensive sexuality education is an age-appropriate, culturally relevant approach to teaching about sexuality and relationships by providing scientifically accurate, realistic, non-judgmental information. Sexuality education provides opportunities to explore one’s own values and attitudes and to acquire decision-making, communication and risk reduction skills. The Programme of Action of the ICPD recognized that providing adolescents with information is the first step towards reducing adolescent pregnancies and unsafe abortions and empowering adolescents to make conscious and informed decisions.
- Enforce age appropriate laws to penalize older men across the board who use their power to prey on the vulnerability of young persons
- In life there are two motivators, FEAR an LOVE. Let us use love to empower our young people through creating avenues of educating them on values clarification.
If these measures are not done and laws just enforced to penalize young persons who are already victims, this will result in more back street (unsafe) abortions, undercover prostitution, increase in STIs and all the hosts of ills which accompany them.
Let us do the right thing and empower our young people rather than penalize them. We should not be followers but rather do our best to protect our own.
St. Lucia Planned Parenthood Association
21 Jeremie Street