Maldivian youth need access to sexual reproductive health education, services: Department of National Planning

Maldivian youth need sex education and access to reproductive health services, given high numbers of unsafe abortions, rising infanticide, as well as increasing risk factors that contribute to the spread of sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS, a Department of National Planning study has found.

The study examined how much human development progress has been achieved in the Maldives in terms of population and development, reproductive health and rights, gender equity, equality and empowerment of women as well as education during the period 1994 – 2012.

The thematic Programme of Action (PoA) goals were established during the 1994 Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and adopted by 179 participating governments, including the Maldives. Thus, the “Maldives Operational Review for the ICPD Beyond 2014” study was conducted under the supervision of the Department of National Planning (DNP) in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Overall the study found that the Maldives has “accomplished remarkable progress” in achieving the ICPD PoA goals, with “impressive advancements in all development areas… and notable achievements in sexual and reproductive health.”

However young people and women continue to lack access to quality services, particularly in regard to sexual and reproductive health, which is putting their health at risk.

Youth comprise the largest population group in the Maldives and “[with] the number of young people entering their reproductive years on the rise, special attention to ensure that adolescents and youth are provided with sufficient knowledge about their anatomies, sexual and reproductive health, contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases is needed,” stated the study.

“Access to contraceptives is limited to the married population despite overwhelming empirical evidence suggesting the need to provide contraceptive information and access to the youth population,” the study noted.

“Information must also be provided on the risks of getting pregnant in young age and of unsafe abortion,” the report continued.

“Simultaneously, it is also essential to establish more comprehensive and confidential reproductive health services which are more accessible and affordable,” the study found.

The report repeatedly noted that although information regarding reproductive health, HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are technically “available to everyone regardless of age, gender and marital status…access to reproductive health services are still limited to the married population.”

However, even the married population is not always ensured access to accessible, affordable and confidential reproductive health services, according to the study’s findings.

Contraceptive use among married couples is “relatively low”, with “Only 27 percent of married women using modern methods”.

“With regard to reproductive rights, men often control decisions regarding women’s reproductive health, often based on religious and cultural grounds,” the report noted.

“[Furthermore,] the sudden growth of religious fundamentalism and conservative thinking is an emerging challenge, particularly for women and young girls,” the study stated. “There have been increase towards certain trends such as preference for home schooling and refusing vaccination and other medical services for women based on religious beliefs.”

Sex, drugs, and reproductive rights

The report highlighted the “clear indicators of the imperative need to provide access to information on sexual reproductive health and reproductive health services to the sexually active adolescents and youth population.”

High numbers of unsafe abortions – mostly through injections and pills – were noted as “one of the main causes of preventable maternal deaths in the country.”

Infanticide also appears to be increasing, as demonstrated by media reports of “several new born babies and few premature babies found in parks and/or buried in secluded places and/ or thrown into the sea,” said the report.

“These are clear indications for the need of life skills programmes and reproductive health education,” the study suggested. “Access and utilisation of contraceptives to avoid unwanted pregnancies must also be advocated to minimise these issues.”

The lack of reproductive health rights and services for women and girls have also lead to observed increases in non-communicable diseases such as breast cancer and cervical cancers, according to the study.

Meanwhile, male reproductive health issues are often ignored, while “family planning and use of contraception is largely considered a woman’s responsibility.” Therefore, the study recommended strengthening awareness information and access to male reproductive health services.

In order to create the awareness needed about reproductive rights and reproductive health, the report suggested using “Carefully targeted programmes using innovative and youth friendly tools such as social media and text messaging.”

An interrelated issue includes widespread drug use and substance abuse among Maldivian youth, with cases reported to the Maldives Police Services increasing from 195 cases in 2001 to 1,160 cases in 2010, noted the study.

“The high level of drug usage coupled with the increase in commercial sex workers imposes great risks for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections and reproductive tract infections,” said the report.

The lack of sexual reproductive health access and awareness combined with risk factors including sharing needles to inject drugs, sexual activities among adolescents and youth, extramarital sex, and commercial sex workers, “could contribute to an increase in the incidence and prevalence of STIs and HIV/AIDS,” the study found.

“It is therefore crucial to educate the population on the risks of STI’s and HIV/AIDS through carefully designed behavioural change communication strategies,” the report recommended. “It is equally important to promote awareness on the availability of voluntary counseling and testing services and contraceptives such as condoms in Male’ and in regional level.”

The report recommended giving special consideration to “identify these high risks groups and provide them with the necessary information, treatment and services.”

Age appropriate sexual and reproductive health education needs to taught in schools to combat the increasing “sexual health illnesses” in the Maldives, according to the Centre for Community Health and Disease Control (CCHDC).

In 2012, CCHDC’s Public Health Programme Coordinator Nazeera Nazeeb revealed that studies have found high risk behaviors – including “unprotected sex, drug and alcohol abuse, homosexuality and prostitution” – are putting young people at high risk of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.


9 thoughts on “Maldivian youth need access to sexual reproductive health education, services: Department of National Planning”

  1. This is crossing the boundary. Mordisian guardian angels want to stay behind the curtain. They want a direct to heaven.

    In reality, Mordis has similar statistics for a third world country.
    8% Color blind. 1% Gay/lesbian. 60% dumb and stupid, focused on arabic chanting than understanding. 3% suffer some form of cancer. 15% smokes. etc....

    But, hide them all. God already has allocated a permanent slot in Heaven, for the Mordis. Palm trees and beaches included.

  2. Oh boy, this'll really twist those mullah's beards. Sex education from teachers? No, no, no. Let the children learn from rumors and unreliable websites from the Internet. Contraception is a no-no too. And abortion is anathema. As for gender and sexual orientation, forget about it. Another wasted report which will be filed and no action taken on it. Sad really, considering that uncontrolled population growth is THE most serious problem facing Dhivehistan and the world.

  3. Sex education for the youth is more effective from the family. Mother to daughter and father to son. Unfortunately, parents in Maldives think talking about sex to their children is a taboo. To make things worse, the religious view towards this topic is most damaging.

    A few days ago, someone commented that sex (or prostitution) among the teenage in Addu is on the rise. Well, let me tell you that sex within ages 16-20 all over the country has exploded for many reasons that we all pretend not to know but overlook.

    As a parent, I support this idea of sex education and actually would request educational institutions, to include it in their curriculum simply because every adult youth >18yrs has sex at least weekly with single or multiple partners.

    Let's look at few reasons why sex and not brown sugar is the latest trend. I will concentrate more on Male where it's spreading like American wild fires.

    1) Economical Difficulties
    A majority of the young girls you see working in shops, hotels, or low income places are from islands. Average salary is just Rf.3500/- a month out of which they need to buy their clothing, cosmetics, pay part of bills of where they stay and support their families in the islands.
    2) Sex exploitation
    Most of these teenagers (girls) are vulnerable to exploitation by family members. Uncles, cousins, close relatives and even from their own fathers and brothers. we KNOW this fact well enough. Can they speak out? NEVER! at least 3 out 10 Maldivian girls have been or are sexually abused in our little cramped houses we call home.
    3) Alcohol and drugs
    It's a fashion today to have a smart phone, expensive perfumes and be seen out in coffee shops. Well, to seem 'macho' as a teenager, a few alcohol drinks (Redbull and vodka) and 'joints' (harsh oil) is trendy on Thursdays. But this happens in nice apartments in male and Hulumale sponsored by ever horny grownups, double the girls ages. If you never knew, Vodka stimulates a woman and once mixed with Redbull, the physical urge is unbearable to an extent that the girl will take anything (any man) available. For men, it makes them stupid, violent, irresponsible!
    4) Naturally 'hot'
    Maldivians are just too horny even as young as 12 and as old as 60. Our bodies grow so fast and the physical demands are just too great to control. No ones mistake, just genetics, maybe the chemical enriched food, maybe the nuts, suparis and kilis we constantly eat, which seem to be aphrodisiacs.
    5) Solitary confinement
    School in the day, tuitions in the evening and then Sonee TV and hindi movies just before bed. Most parents wont let their kids out of sight thinking they are protecting them. Little do they know a volcano is erupting and once the sharp boys and men get the opportunity to shown them what they are missing...its too late to say but bow to temptations.

    There many other reasons but its a fact our youth have lost direction and the possibility of STD and HIV is greater today than a decade ago. Thank you to indian chemists who help out in selling condoms secretly, and I agree totally that education and not the only alternative to save these kids before the country has a population of 'bastards' and no one to care for.

    It is also important to know that, lesbians and gays are on the rise and no Sharia law can stop this...sooner or later, they may demand their right of existence! Sex is good, sex is the best therapy, sex is gods gift and we shouldn't be ashamed of discussing it.

  4. Maldivians are an in-bred hybrid population! It's time to inject some genetic variety and stop polluting the world with too many ugly Maldivians!

  5. There is compelling evidence that Maldives needs a radical change in order to be prosperous people. Maldives definitely cannot survive as homogeneous nation. People are genetically weak due to inbreeding within the same gene pool, economically unstable due to lack of natural resources and human capital; people still live in mystical world with religious fantasy, believing fairy tales and superstition as the reality. Without this change Maldives will remain as uncivilized subhuman people, the only hope to start this revolution is with Anni. And then change the eating habit, sex habit and start to cross breed with different races, migration and multiculturalism

  6. @Fishy Head
    "People are genetically weak due to inbreeding within the same gene pool"
    "subhuman people"

    Are you a geneticist, Hitler? do you have anything scientific to back up these views?

  7. Facts, you summed everything up perfectly. If you take Mordis as an example, it acts as evidence that no man-made religion can actually stop natural temptations. Christianity has tried and failed, and Islam has failed miserably as well. When I was in secondary, many of my friends were already having sex, often with multiple girls. To anybody who thinks that homosexuals don't exist in this world, just the other day, an uncle of mine was telling me about his landlady who happened to be a lesbian sleeping around with girls younger than her, possibly by paying them. And yet, we have mullahs telling us day and night that sex is an abomination, and that iblees is the third person when a man and woman are alone in a place. When I was in school, we were never taught sex ed. My parents didn't teach me anything either, and a lot of the knowledge was through the internet and through what my friends told me.

  8. This is an issue that needs to be addressed properly. It is sad to see how many teenagers especially are unaware of safe sex. What s even sadder, is that the ones who want to practice safe sex aren't given the access to contraceptives. I've even heard of a tale where a teenager used of all things, a plastic bag, because he couldn't get a condom. Simply teaching reproduction in human beings to science students isn't enough where the teacher barely gets into any details because they are either embarrassed or they have to face ribbing by the students, we need a proper sex education class for all the students in schools, and even the grown ups, including the married.

  9. @facts. Thank you for a really focussed piece of writing on this topic. Good to see someone take this seriously and thoughtfully instead of degenerating into self pity and/or sarcasm. Good reading.


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