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Impact of Laws on Youth’s Access to Sexual Health Services

UNESCO Bangkok
Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education

Impact of Laws on Youth’s Access to Sexual Health Services – Study Release

11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia- Pacific (ICAAP’ 11)
20 and 21 November 2013

Bangkok, 18 November 2013 – Restrictive laws and policies in Asia-Pacific are blocking young people from accessing sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and HIV services, according to a new report to be released at the 11th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP’11).

The report, “Young people and the Law in Asia and the Pacific: A review of laws and policies affecting young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health and HIV services”, will be released by UNESCO, UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNDP and Youth Lead.

Over 400 key legal and policy documents from all Asia-Pacific countries were analyzed for the report, making it the first systemic review of its kind in the region.

Focus group discussions with young people were also undertaken to elicit their views and experiences in accessing SRH and HIV services, including on issues such as age of consent, age and marriage requirements for services, and attitudes of service providers.

John Godwin, the report’s author, said: “Our research found that restrictive laws can be a significant barrier to access to sexual and reproductive health services for young people – in terms of enjoyment of their health rights, the law has got a lot to do with it.”

“We found that very few countries have taken legal steps to clarify the health rights of young people, and this creates particular problems in the sensitive areas of HIV, sexual health and reproductive health.”

The report offers recommendations on steps that can be taken to address challenges keeping young people from accessing essential health and information services. These cover legal reforms, changes in law enforcement and greater inclusion of young people’s voices in drafting policy related to SRH and HIV services.

Justine Sass, Chief of UNESCO Bangkok’s HIV Prevention and Health Promotion unit, who provided overall coordination for the report, said: “There are over 1 billion young people aged 10-24 in the Asia-Pacific region. Ensuring their health and well-being requires attention at multiple levels, focusing on individuals, their relationships, and society at large. This includes protecting them from harm through supportive laws, policies, law enforcement practices and access to justice.”

The full report is available here:


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