Reproductive Health Matters: Call for papers

Young people, sex and relationships, volume 21 number 41 May 2013

This journal issue aims to explore the changing language and culture around young people’s sexual relationships and sexual health, as well as the gap between what young people want and need, what young people are told they need, and what they are actually receiving.

We welcome submissions from young people on these and other issues, and on what is happening (or not) in sex education and the real world. Older people can send papers too!! Submissions need not be academic papers. They can be discussion and opinion pieces; reports of interviews with young people, sex education teachers, or sexual health service providers; or about young people’s experiences. They can describe/critique sex education programmes, health and safer sex promotion, or law, policy and regulatory issues. Most important is that papers are in-depth and have something important to say to an international audience of the author’s peers.

Improving young people’s access to sexual health information and services is critical. Young people represent an increasing proportion of the world population and without information and services, are at high risk of sexual and reproductive health-related morbidity and mortality. Improving young people’s access to information and to sexual and reproductive health is called for in a range of international conventions and initiatives including:

  • Millennium Development Goal 3 (2000): promoting gender equality and empowering women;
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989): giving children a say in what should happen to them and protection from harm;
  • Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979): eliminating discrimination against women in matters relating to marriage and family relations;
  • ICPD Programme of Action (1994): protect and promote the rights of adolescents to reproductive health education, information and care; greatly reduce the number of adolescent pregnancies; support education and counselling of adolescents on gender relations and equality, violence, responsible sexual behaviour and family planning, family life, and STI/HIV prevention.
  • Commission on Population and Development (45th session, 2012): resolution calling for full recognition of young people’s human rights, including gender equality and the highest standards of sexual and reproductive health.

Much work around young people’s sexual health focuses on specific health outcomes and has been promoted by governments and NGOs on public health grounds. In the context of entrenched conservative opinion, advocating for sexual health education or contraceptive and sexual health services using public health arguments may be an effective way to build consensus across different cultural, political and religious perspectives. Mainstream opinion too may be more receptive to meeting public health objectives, such as reducing STIs and preventing teen pregnancy, than to education or services that acknowledge ‘normal’ adolescent sexuality.

However, while health-based arguments may be less contentious, they risk marginalising the right of young people to good education on sex and relationships, contraception and sexual health care ̶ as well as the role of sex education in promoting young people’s rights. They can also lead to a narrow curriculum, bypassing issues of gender inequality and discrimination on the basis of sexuality, and may problematise any adolescent sexual behaviour at all.

Increasingly, young people themselves are calling for a rights-based approach to sexual health and rejecting the idea that they should be passive recipients of a sex education that aims to define and control the boundaries of what is acceptable, or that aims to impose social and cultural norms which they perceive as belonging to their parents’ generation. Instead, they are calling for sex education that eliminates shame and stigma, not reinforces them. They reject being represented as passive and uncritical consumers of ‘sexualising’ media messages and pornography, rather than as active decision-makers who can be trusted to unpick and make sense of the multiplicity of messages and images they are bombarded with through the television, music and advertising, and mobile technologies.

Young men as well as young women have sexual and reproductive issues and need information and services. They want to participate in conversations about pregnancy and other topics they have traditionally been excluded from, including issues of consent and coercion, and understand their rights and their responsibilities. Young men and women both question pervasive sexual identity and gender stereotypes.

This journal issue aims to explore the changing language and culture around young people’s sexual relationships and sexual health, as well as the gap between what young people want and need, what young people are told they need, and what they are actually receiving.

The following are just some of the issues we would be interested in receiving submissions on:

  • How do adolescents and young people see their own and others’ sexuality?
  • How can sex education support men to participate in healthy sexual relationships?
  • What is adolescent sexual experience today?
  • What should comprehensive sex education include?
  • Linking sex education and sexual and reproductive health services
  • ‘Culture’ as a tool to regulate and define sexual health information
  • Confidentiality, parental consent and notification – whose rights?
  • The hierarchy of acceptability: relationships not sex, contraception not emergency contraception, contraception not abortion
  • Inclusion and visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) issues
  • Female genital mutilation and other sexual violence against young people
  • Child marriage and forced marriage
  • Are pornography and ‘sexualisation’ affecting relationships, body image and sexual health?
  • Adolescents having babies and adolescents having abortions – Cinderella subjects
  • Sexual exploitation – is it being tackled in sex education?
  • How are the internet, social media and new technology influencing the information young people access? Opportunities for young people to influence/create content?
  • What’s happening today in HIV/STI education and prevention for young people?

We welcome submissions from young people on these and other issues, and on what is happening (or not) in sex education and the real world. Older people can send papers too!! Submissions need not be academic papers. They can be discussion and opinion pieces; reports of interviews with young people, sex education teachers, or sexual health service providers; or about young people’s experiences. They can describe/critique sex education programmes, health and safer sex promotion, or law, policy and regulatory issues. Most important is that papers are in-depth and have something important to say to an international audience of the author’s peers.

Submissions due: ± September 2012

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Tel: 44 20 7267 6567
Fax: 44 20 7267 2551
E-mail: mberer@rhmjournal.org.uk
Web (Elsevier): www.rhm-elsevier.com
Web (RHM): www.rhmjournal.org.uk

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