FPOP SocSarGen chapter thru INTERACT GenSan commemorates International AIDS Candlelight Memorial

May 18, 2012- Family Planning Organization of the Philippines thru INTERACT GenSan- a network composed of young leaders from different young people organizations advocating ASRH initiated an activity in line with the celebration of International HIV/AIDS Candlelight Memorial at Sangguniang Panlungsod Learning Center of General Santos City.

The event was participated by the young leaders from Teen Support Group (TSG), RCR Foundation, Pag-asa Youth Association of the Philippines (PYAP), Young Development Leaders per district in the city, Peer Facilitator’s Society of Mindanao Polytechnic College and SK kagawads of Barangay North. The event with the theme “Promoting Health and Dignity Together” aimed to promote respect and dignity and to uphold and protect the rights of people living with HIV. Further, it commemorates those people who died with AIDS.

Highlights of the event include the discussion on STI, HIV and AIDS, workshop (Power Walk) On Understanding Stigma and Discrimination, the city and youth’s commitment on eradicating social stigma and discrimination, and the Candle lighting ceremony.

Dra. Mely Lastimoso, Medical Health Officer V of City Health Office, and Social Hygiene Clinic Head of the city graced the invitation to talk about STI, HIV and AIDS. Dra. Lastimoso discussed the different ways and means to protect one’s self from HIV/ AIDS and she also gave emphasis on the ADCDE method. Further, she encouraged all the participants for free testing at the Social Hygiene Clinic.

After the discussion was the activity on Understanding Stigma and Discrimination thru a Power Walk. Ten characters in the society were portrayed in the activity. Statements regarding access to plenty information on STI, HIV and AIDS, access to treatment, care and support, access to quality Health care services and youth friendly medical services were asked during the activity. At the end, the participants were delighted because they were able to determine their power in the society based on the given character. “Our society is very judgmental. And so, there is an unequal perception and treatment between people from the higher class and the lower class”, Grace, one of the participants noted.

After the activity, an inspirational message was given thru a voice recording by Vice-Mayor Shirlyn Nograles on the city’s commitment to eradicate social stigma and discrimination on PLHIV. Further, her message was discussed thoroughly by a representative from her office. She noted that the city has a program on the treatment, care and support on PLHIV. She also appreciated the role of FPOP thru the youth network for its massive campaign to combat HIV/ AIDS.

Following the message, was the rationale presentation why IACM was celebrated every third week of month of May in respect of those people who died with AIDS. The candle lighting ceremony was facilitated by Christopher Peñales, the Chapter Program Manager. He began by letting the participants form a circle around the red ribbon- symbol of AIDS. He then asked the young ones to offer a prayer to those who have died w/ AIDS. After which, each candle was lighted and everyone gave their simple commitment to fight stigma and discrimination on PLHIV. Right after each participant gave his/her commitment, the candle was then put into a ribbon forming the symbol of AIDS.

Moreover, the activity ended with delight on each other’s faces as they signed and wrote a message on a shirt for their pledge of commitments. “I was amazed. Now even at my young age, I can do something to combat and raise awareness against HIV/AIDS thus to contribute to MDG to halt HIV/ AIDS. In my own little ways, I will be an HIV/AIDS advocate”, James, a participant remarked.


Speaking about safe abortion, barriers and law overview in ESEAO region (part 2)

By Jeross Aguilar, Rinaldi Ridwan, and Victoria Wong Li Leng

We agree that no young woman wants to perform unsafe abortion if she has other choices such as access to contraception or safe abortion.  Abortion is chosen when the pregnancy comes without any planned

Some common reasons that make young women perform abortion is:

-Not ready to become a parent

-Can’t afford a baby (high cost in nurturing a child)

-Do not want to be a single parent

-Do not want people to know she has had sex or is pregnant

-Too young or immature to raise a child

-She was a victim of rape or incest

-She or the foetus has a health complication

And in the context of East and South East Asia and Oceania region where most of the law where most countries restrict abortion , young women face a lot of barriers in accessing the services. These barriers are:

-Lack of information

-Lack of high quality services provided by supported staff

-Misconception of service provides on safe and legal abortion

-Mandatory parental consent

-High cost of services

-Religious bias

All these gaps have to be addressed, as young people should not be denied of their basic human rights accessing to right of sexual health information and youth friendly services.  We agree that abortion should be performed in a safe method. However it is extremely important to reduce and eliminate unsafe abortion by two ways:

  • Providing access to youth friendly sexual and reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education.
  • Doing advocacy to make abortion safe, legal and accessible for all young women everywhere.

Knowing that there is a lot of legal barrier and realising on the other hand that safe abortion is a part of women’s reproductive rights that must be fought, how can you advocate for legalizing access to safe abortion? Here are some arguments, message, and preferred language that can help you in doing this.[1]

Abortion is a killing??

  • All young women have the right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term and the right to access safe, legal and affordable abortion services. No young woman should be forced to become a mother.
  • A foetus or embryo is not subject to human rights. Only people are entitled to human rights. While all life has value, including foetal life, it is only persons who have rights.
  • All young women have the right to access safe abortion services.
  • All young women have the right to make decisions about their bodies and decide if, when and how to have a child.


Abortion is bad for health??

  • It is unsafe abortion that results in high levels of morbidity and mortality. Abortion when performed safely carries very little complications.
  • Legal, accessible and safe abortion saves young women’s lives. Only when young women have access to safe abortion services do medical complications and maternal mortality from unsafe abortion become truly rare.
  • There are different methods of performing safe abortions that can be used in different circumstances and depending on the young woman’s choice (medical abortion, vacuum aspiration, surgical abortion).
  • Unsafe abortion is a public health concern, especially for young women. Lack of access to safe abortion services is also a human rights violation.

Young women must have parental, guardian or spousal permission to have an abortion??

  • Mandatory parental involvement or spousal consent laws and policies are barriers that prevent many young women from accessing safe abortion care. We encourage young women to seek the help of a supportive adult of her Choice

What do you think? Do you have any other way to make the language softer and acceptable? Let’s tell us!

[1] Youth Messaging Checklist: IPPF, London: January 2011