This morning I had an email from Milinda Rajapaksha of the Youth AIDS Coalition, asking that I help to spread the word about a letter that the National Youth Coalition of Sri Lanka (NYCSL) has put out, demanding that the Sri Lankan Presidential candidates include working toward the sexual rights and reproductive health of young people among their priorities.
First, a little background on the needs of youth in Sri Lanka:
In Sri Lanka young people aged 10 to 24 years constitute 28% of the total population of 19.1 million, with a majority of them falling within the adolescent age group. Though there are strong cultural and religious traditions against sex before marriage in the country, the age of sexual debut for both males and females has been found to be early: 15.3 years for males while for females at 14.4 years. A national survey on young people aged 10-19 years revealed that a substantial proportion of school-going youth were sexually active. Six percent of those going to school in the 14-19 year age group reported heterosexual intercourse, while 10% disclosed having homosexual relations. Out-of-school adolescents revealed a higher percentage (22%) of sexually active adolescents.
In their recommendations, the organization addresses the four key areas of policy, services, awareness, and advocacy. Here are a few examples of their demands:
- • Policy: Ensure the involvement of young people in designing policies that affect their lives nationally, regionally and internationally
- • Services: Increase and improve access to youth friendly services, information & resources island wide
- • Awareness: Use key influencers including media, community based organizations, non-governmental organizations, and religious leaders as well as established institutions to provide awareness programs on adolescent sexual and reproductive health
- • Advocacy: Develop a legally and state recognized youth advocacy group in Sri Lanka that can become a voice for youth on adolescent sexual and reproductive health related issues
Our Indian partner the YP Foundation has the whole text of the open letter written by the National Youth Coalition of Sri Lanka (NYCSL) here.