Indonesian Technology Ministers are all worked up over “pornographic” materials available to citizens via their Blackberry devices, and threatened to ban Blackberry service unless the company agreed to filter out the undesirable content. News reports today announced Blackberry’s compliance, and that sites like Playboy are now blocked from Blackberry devices across that country. While pornography is a hot button issue with feminists standing on both sides, no one can argue the fact that this filtration is absurd. First of all, the internet is too vast and complicated to ever be thoroughly filtered against a particular type of content. Secondly, targeting one service or device just isn’t effective; there are so many ways to access pornographic materials—and those who want it will do what it takes to find it. Lastly and most importantly, we all know that when you start filtering sexual content, sexual health information that women, men, and young people rely on gets lost as well.
Rinaldi Ridwan wrote a very smart piece about the proposed ban for The Jakarta Post this week, saying that rather than covering citizens’ eyes, the Indonesian government should show them the way toward a healthy and respectful sexual life. “Instead of censorship,” he says, “we should provide young people with sex education and instruction on how to use the Internet wisely.” He goes on to cite a study that shows delayed sex among youth whose parents have talked to them about sex and contraception; and also states that current statistics show that 50 percent of young teenagers in Greater Jakarta are sexually active and in dire need of accurate information about their bodies and rights. Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is not, as detractors believe, just about sex and condoms. CSE provides young people with the necessary skills and information to make their own informed decisions about health, and enjoy safe and happy relationships.
“Sex education is a must,” he insists, “and the need for it is urgent. It must be formulated in a specific curriculum to ensure that youths have knowledge about their bodies and sexuality, and can thereby act make more responsible choices.”
Enthusiastic advocates like Ridwan, who is also an editor at Change magazine, a publication for young people in Indonesia, give me hope. Their gutsy words prove that young people are not simply the leaders of tomorrow, they are the leaders of today. IWHC champions youth year round, and very soon, we will be announcing a call for entries for our second annual Young Visionaries contest, which celebrates the brightest rising stars for women’s rights and health. Check back here at Akimbo for more information!