Caribbean Watch – April 2013
I was truly shocked a few weeks ago when a representative for the Saint Lucia Planned Parenthood Associated (SLPPA) appeared on national television and called for the morning after pill to be given or sold to 13-15 year old school girls, without the need for a prescription.
As many of us are aware, sexual abuse of children is rampant within Saint Lucia and the Caribbean! If SLPPA’s suggestion were ever to be implemented, our children will immediately be at even higher risk of sexual violence. Giving children ready access to emergency contraception will give child abusers and rapists exactly the cover they need to continue abusing their victims whilst avoiding the punishment which they justly deserve.
More importantly this proposal ignores the real needs that sexually abused children have for genuine help and care.
CARIFAM strongly objects to this suggestion by the SLPPA for the following reasons:
1. It is not in the best interests of the child, does not address her real needs, and does not recognize her intrinsic worth and dignity.
A thirteen (13) or fifteen (15) year old girl who is in “need” of emergency contraception clearly has a greater need – for genuine help and care. She is a victim of sexual abuse and is extremely vulnerable. The needs of vulnerable children should be carefully assessed and agencies should respond appropriately and effectively to protect them. It is insensitive and disrespectful to throw quick fixes at children whilst turning a blind eye to their real needs. In all decisions affecting children their best interests must always be given primary consideration.
2. It places an unreasonable and unfair burden on a child and compromises her health and safety.
This is a very serious decision which has far reaching ethical, medical and emotional consequences. Such a decision should be made in consultation with the child’s parents and a medical advisor. It is unfair, unreasonable, and not in the child’s best interests to bypass the parent or health care provider (which is a necessary step before getting a prescription) in order to give the child easy “over the counter” access to emergency contraception. This compromises the overall well being, health, and safety of children.
3. It is an infringement on the rights and duties of parents (guardians).
Children are under the authority of their parents. Parental involvement in all medical decisions affecting children is not only desirous but absolutely necessary. Providing emergency contraception to children without prior consultation with parents or without having to go to a doctor for a prescription (an activity that a parent is normally involved in) is an infringement on the rights and duties of parents.
Further, parents must be able to protect their children from child abusers, rapists and other predators, including older “boyfriends” who force young girls to use emergency contraception to hide evidence of their abuse. If children are able to buy emergency contraception without going to a doctor for a prescription, parents may never know that their daughter is being abused
4. It potentially harms the relationship between parents and children.
It discourages a healthy relationship between parents and children based on mutual trust and respect. It will cause children to completely bypass their parents when making a decision on matters of such importance and with such serious consequences. This will strain relations between parents and children, and within the family, and will have further negative implications for the child (who needs the support of a loving family) and society as a whole.
5. It will shield child abusers and rapists and encourage their violent criminal acts against children.
A 13 to 15 year old having sexual relations, is the victim of the very serious crime of rape – period! Providing emergency contraception shields the perpetrator and allows him to continue and even intensify his criminal acts against the child. The state should not be seen to be sanctioning and encouraging this behavior. It is widely acknowledged and publicly known that most sexual crimes against children in Saint Lucia are not reported, and, even when reported, most go unpunished. It is a scientifically established fact that young girls who become sexually active early often do so because of sexual abuse.
6. The side effects of emergency contraception are not fully known, particularly its long term effect on girls.
There is currently not enough evidence to say that these pills, which are high dosage hormones, are safe in the long run. There is also not enough data on its medium to long term effect on the health of young girls.
7. It will encourage more unprotected sex with children by child abusers, exposing already vulnerable girls to increased health risks.
In addition to the obvious health and safety risks of child sexual abuse, children will be exposed to an even higher risk of contracting the deadly HIV/AIDS virus, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDS), as well as higher risks of contracting the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is transmitted by skin to skin contact. HPV, if undetected and untreated, can cause cervical cancer. Young girls are particularly vulnerable due to the immaturity of their cervix.
8. It will open the way for sexual rights activists to demand that the age of consent be reduced to 13 years.
Reducing the age to administer emergency contraception without a prescription from sixteen (16) years (the current age of consent) to thirteen (13) years will open the way for sexual rights lobbyists to advocate for the age of consent to also be reduced to 13.
This is clearly undesirable as it will legalize sex between adults and young children.
As a direct result, Saint Lucia may become a “sexual paradise”, a haven for pedophiles having the legal right to have sex with minors. This suggestion is not farfetched: ever since 2010 Planned Parenthood has been very actively promoting a Bill in Peru, to have the age of consent for sexual intercourse for minors reduced to fourteen (14) years.
Further, it will mean that paedophiles from North America, Europe and elsewhere can legally target our young people as they currently do in Thailand and other parts of Asia.
9. This represents blatant exploitation of children for financial gain.
The Saint Lucia Planned Parenthood Association has a vested interest. By encouraging children to be more sexually active, they grow their potential market for contraceptives, abortions, and other services which they sell “at a price you can’t beat” as per the advertisement on their Facebook Page. (Post dated February 16, 2012)
10. Overall, it sends the wrong message to and about children:-
That their sexual activity is okay – thus encouraging early sexual debut, even promiscuity. It is not okay for children to be engaged in sexual activity. Sexual activity is always harmful to children. A 2003 World Bank Study revealed that the Caribbean had the highest rate of early sexual initiation in the world (aside from some countries in Africa where this takes place within the context of early marriage).
That it is okay for them to be abused. At this age (particularly below the age of consent) children should be made to understand clearly that they are being abused, that this is a serious crime being perpetuated against them, and that the State will always protect them from abuse and punish the perpetrator.
It prejudges children and assumes that once they become sexually active, they do not have the capacity to lead sex-free, healthy, chaste lives. With proper help, support and responsible advice, children can and do make wise, safe, and healthy lifestyle choices.
For more information on the Caribbean Centre for Family and Human Rights (CARIFAM) contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.