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Nepal, known as the homeland for about 26.3 Million with diversity in culture, religion, caste and ethnicity, is also known as a underdeveloped nation where still 21% are dwelling under the poverty line with the earning of less than $2 a day and this 21% are the regarded as backward community in Nepal who are ignored by rest of the world within and outside the Nepal.
Today I am going to talk about the status of HIV/AIDS in Nepal and its journey in this field. It has not been long when Nepal recognized HIV for the first time in 1988. From that moment Nepal Government started working for the prevention and control of HIV in the country. A 12-point policy on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control was developed in 1995 and is under implementation. The policy was been made but was unable to craft effective change in its status. MDG’s goal also focused on HIV/AIDS which was regarded as a boon for Nepal because when the issue came globally, a large amount of donation, grants were flooded in Nepal but even though the change was still same i.e. not effective. In 1995 total infected person with HIV was about 20,000 which increased to 180000 in 2005 with the increase in population and also with the increase in foreign grants which was provided to make control but was unable, why? No answer. In 2011, there were approximately 50,200 adults and children living with HIV in Nepal, with an estimated overall prevalence of 0.30 per cent among the adult (15–49 years) population. the prevalence of HIV infection among adult (15–49 years) males (58%) and females belonging to the reproductive age group (28%) was the highest, whereas children aged under 15 years accounted for approximately 8 per cent of the total infected population in 2011. We can say that we are still lacking behind the progress and also behind the time to make people aware about it.
Now let us analyze the data between 2010 and estimated data of 2012 in Nepal. In 2010, the knowledge about HIV were about 43.6% and 27.6% among male and female respectively which is supposed to be  changed to 33.9% and 23.8% among male and female respectively in 2012. With two years we can easily find the gap about the level of awareness about the HIV. At the same time let us see the amount that is spend in this field. The total amount that was spent in 2010 was $17.6 million and supposed to  increased to $20.45 million in 2012 but the level of awareness level was decreased. It was supposed to increase the rate of awareness but it went down with about 10% in male and 5.2% in female even if the grants are increased up to about $2.85 million. Now the question that comes into my mind is where did the money go? Who mobilized the money and what did they do?

Another thing that hit my mind was the effectiveness of the governmental and non- governmental organization for the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS. How far did they reach to the goal? When the issue was mentioned on MD, large numbers of organizations were also established in this field but the situation is still the same. Some might say that there is change to some extent but I say that is obvious with the increase in population. There are more than half century nongovernmental organization working in HIV/AIDS but their works can only be seen in report.

If these organization would have worked in coalition or in cooperation then the change can be seen as sure, but due to lack of cooperation and mentality of superiority over another organization or the ego problem among the organization has made the situation still the same.

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Amplify has the stories you need to hear! With so many great contributors from all over the world, you definitely don’t want you to miss out on the top insightful and informative stories of the week. Check in each week for a list of must-read posts. Whether it’s a national story or a individual experience, these are the issues you care about!

June 17- June 23

Stats this week: 31 blogs by 20 writers

The Time is NOW to Protect Young People’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights at Rio+20!- by AFY_Mimi

Inside this post:

This morning the draft text, compiled by Brazil, does not include ANY reference to reproductive rights.

Who would have thought that our rights would be erased over night?< Did the negotiators think about the 215 million women around the world who have an unmet need for contraception?

Pride in Texas- by GarrettMize

Inside this post:

In many ways, these ideas of Texas are accurate, but there is another side to Texas – the Texas we should be thinking about. There is a Texas in which Houston, the largest city in state and the fourth largest city in the country, has the nation’s first openly-lesbian mayor. There is a Texas which has some of the largest and most numerous pride parades and festivals each year. There is a Texas where the Mayor of El Paso stood up for equal domestic partner benefits for LGBTQ city employees and caused a national conversation. There is a Texas which just nominated its second ever openly-LGBTQ individual to serve in the Texas House of Representatives, a Latina from El Paso.

Wake Up: Take Back the American Dream!- by JamesMLee

Inside this post:

Enough is enough. I’ve lived in Texas my entire life and I know that so long as people like me are around, there is hope for this state. I know I am fighting for what is right, I’m fighting for the generation after me that has yet to find its voice, I’m fighting for my generation which struggles with their newly cognizant idea of politics, I’m fighting for you!

But I can’t do it alone, I need your help.

Take Action: United We Stand for Birth Control- by Amplify_Staff

Inside this post:

TELL PRESIDENT OBAMA AND HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY SEBELIUS THAT YOU SUPPORT THEIR DECISION to make birth control available with no co-pay. Download your "United We Stand" poster, fill it out, and take your picture. Post it on Facebook and email to us at BC4US2012@gmail.com.*

Then tweet it to @WhiteHouse and @HHSGov with the hashtag #BC4US.

Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!

~ Samantha
Community Editor

My post this week:
Michigan House Passes Bill Allowing Discrimination of LGBTs Seeking Counseling Services

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Venessa of Fiministing.com reports:

” On Tuesday night protesters gathered in front of a Bridgeport church to let their local Boy Scout leaders know how they felt about a controversial decision.”

The controversy began just last week when a Tiger Scout leader had her membership revoked due to her sexual orientation.
[T]he Boy Scouts of America has a strict policy when it comes to sexual orientation and membership.
“We do not grant membership to individuals who are opened or avowed homosexuals,” said Bob Drury. Drury is the scout executive for the Ohio River Valley. Drury said there was no decision to be made, the policy is very clear.
I think the Boy Scouts were right for ousting the mom, but for all the wrong reasons. I don’t think she should have been ousted because she is gay or homosexual, or a lesbian, or bisexual am in full support of homosexuals having every position, ceremony, tradition, marriage license or job they want (without taking into consideration other limiting factors that can affect them getting those things,  i.e. education, unfaithfulness, work ethic  ,etc.)
Am I the only one that’s thinking why a woman is a Boy Scout troop leader? Can a man be a Girl Scout Troop leader?   I was a wrestler in middle school. I won a few state championships, and I don’t know if the experience would have been the same  Ifif “Mr.Knor” would have been “Mrs.Knor.” Let’s be clear, I do believe that women and men can do jobs both equally successful, but in this context, I was very surprised. What are your thoughts? Does it really matter that a woman is a “Boy Scout Troop Leader”?

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Advocates for Youth does not provide psychological counseling, or medical or legal advice. No information presented herein is intended as such advice. Furthermore, Advocates for Youth complies with, and does not condone, violations of the law.

First, let me just say that I am not a parent, but I do know it can be tough out there for parents in today’s world. Recently I conducted four Pizza Protection Parties at the SC Department of Corrections, and the knowledge that the young ladies had was astounding, however, the lack of knowledge they had was equally astounding. Some of them were absolutely clueless on the various methods of contraception, how the female and male reproductive systems worked, and the different reproductive anatomy (body parts) females have in comparison to the males. It could be a breakdown in the education system, but our young people should know these things! I challenge all parents to teach their kids this information! It may save your child’s health in the future and protect them from STDs and unintended pregnancies. For more information on parent-child communication on sexual health, please visit www.advocatesforyouth.org.

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Advocates for Youth does not provide psychological counseling, or medical or legal advice. No information presented herein is intended as such advice. Furthermore, Advocates for Youth complies with, and does not condone, violations of the law.

A few weeks ago I was scheduled to have a table at a community event in SC, which was being hosted bya local black church. The coordinator of the event had already scheduled us to attend and everything was set and ready to go until we got an email from her a few days before the event, telling us that we were no longer invited because the pastor felt like the information we had to share was inappropriate. Let that sink in for a moment. A group distributing information on safe sex and contraceptive access is inappropriate???! This reminded me of a segment I saw in the film, "Let’s Talk About Sex", where a pastor was getting heat from his congregation and community about spreading the word about safe sex. The pastor in the film is very much like my own pastor, and chooses to give young people all the information needed to make informed decisions. I have a community event at my church this Saturday, and I can’t wait to share the information I have to give! Thank goodness open-minded people still exist, especially in the house of the Lord. It is really wrong for our community to be educated on options for safe sex??

Categories: Uncategorized
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Advocates for Youth does not provide psychological counseling, or medical or legal advice. No information presented herein is intended as such advice. Furthermore, Advocates for Youth complies with, and does not condone, violations of the law.

Recently I found out that the iconic song, “Let’s Talk About Sex”, by the amazing 90’s trio Salt ‘N Pepa, was an effort by them to ignite a conversation about safe sex and the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic. According to Wikipedia, “The song talks about safe sex, the positive and negative sides of sex and the censorship that sex had around that time in American mainstream media." It shows that even though the group enjoys sex and makes no qualms about it, they realize the importance of being safe. Imagine if all entertainers were this conscious about safe sex- safe sex messages would be all over the air waves! There isn’t anything wrong with wishful thinking…

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Advocates for Youth does not provide psychological counseling, or medical or legal advice. No information presented herein is intended as such advice. Furthermore, Advocates for Youth complies with, and does not condone, violations of the law.

So recently I was watching MTV’s “Teen Mom” show and my mother noticed what I was watching and suddenly became very worried. “Why are you watching this?” she asked with a puzzled look on her face. “I find it funny,” I responded. It was the truth. People running around like chickens with their head cut off (much like I was doing at 16) with their children, boyfriend, and parents in tow; in my opinion this made for quality TV. Though I would never admit it to her, I realized the source of my mother’s concern. She was afraid that by watching this show I would be influenced by it. Turns out there are studies that have been released recently discussing this very topic!

 Shockingly the studies found that the viewers were influenced by the show based on how they were raised. If your parents were open about sex, the show won’t affect you as much as someone whose parents were not open about sex. It turns out my mom didn’t have to worry after all. _

So what are your thoughts? Do you think shows like “Teen Mom” shape young people’s perception on sex and teen pregnancy? 

Categories: Uncategorized
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Advocates for Youth does not provide psychological counseling, or medical or legal advice. No information presented herein is intended as such advice. Furthermore, Advocates for Youth complies with, and does not condone, violations of the law.

In a recent article I read in the New York Times, they discussed the widespread misconception about the morning after pill. In working with the SC Youth Activist Network, I have come across many young people who have asked me how EC works, what are the side effects, etc. I explained, as it was explained to me, that EC can work in several ways by delaying ovulation, preventing a released egg and the sperm from fertilizing, but that EC MAY also block the implantation of the fertilized egg! As you can imagine, the latter explanation causes a lot of disruption in the religious community about abortion. Now the scientific research shows that EC stops ovulation and makes it harder for sperm to swim, all before the egg is fertilized! Interesting…. EC researchers and those in the field (including our organization and the way we teach our lessons (powerpoints and previous educational materials) all share with people that EC works in 3 different ways: 1) delays ovulation 2: inhibit the egg and sperm from fertilizing 3: if the egg is fertilized, it MAY prevent implantation. This discussion regarding EC is just may be just another political tactic to discourage women from using EC. Professionals in the field have always understood the MOST EFFECTIVE ways EC works regardless of wording or packaging.- I’m certain it is just getting more traction because of the political debate now.

Categories: Abortion, Uncategorized
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Advocates for Youth does not provide psychological counseling, or medical or legal advice. No information presented herein is intended as such advice. Furthermore, Advocates for Youth complies with, and does not condone, violations of the law.

(RED)Rush, will run from June 1st-10th. And what exactly are we ‘rush’ing towards? ZERO. Today and every day 1,000 babies are born with HIV. By 2015 that number can be close to zero. Young activists are meeting up at local Starbucks locations during (RED)Rush and checking in to support this worthy cause! Starbucks locations will be going (RED) which means when anyone does a “check-in” at Starbucks on Foursquare using their phones, Starbucks will donate $1 per check-in for the first 250,000 people to the Global Fund! 

So let’s all do our part in helping to decrease the number of babies born with HIV- and “check-in” to your local Starbucks TODAY!! I mean let’s be honest, you were probably planning on making your daily starbucks run anyway- so do it with purpose! _

Categories: HIV, Uncategorized
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 The local based non profit organisation EVE for Life is making strides in their advocacy work with the launch of their Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) material around HIV and pregnancy prevention among teenage and young adults on June 15, 2012 at the Jamaica Pegasus.

EVE for life the motivator

EVE for life has been involved in advocacy and training for a number of years,  they work to build the capacity of individuals, NGOs, CBOs and institutions in AIDS Care and support services. The training courses that EVE will offer include VCT, parenting, HIV care givers, HIV communication and advocacy and self help workshops (Life skills).

Caribbean Treatment Action Group (CTAG)

Eve for Life’s core services and programmes include parenting interventions, HIV and AIDS counselling, social support and training and capacity building. Other programmes include AIDS education and advocacy. The organization has since November 2008, conducted various parenting interventions with specific focus on adolescents and HIV for various entities including women living with HIV. Eve for Life has also done focus group discussions on safer sex and HIV related stigma and discrimination among private sector workers. Additionally, it has conducted a series of training sessions on Job Creation Strategies for People Living with HIV in collaboration with CHART. Various individual and family counseling sessions have also been conducted on behalf of women living with HIV.http://ctagonline.info/nl/node/

EVE for life the Advocate

EVE for Life views HIV and AIDS as a multi-pronged problem that calls for concerted effort from all sectors of the society. Through its advocacy efforts EVE for Life will increase awareness on various HIV and AIDS issues especially those relating to women and children. The aim is to reduce stigma and discrimination and to curb the epidemic among women and children and by extension Jamaica. EVE for Life’s advocacy aims at sensitizing people with AIDS and society as a whole to understand the rights and responsibilities of the infected.

This is done through:

Collaboration with government agencies, international development partners, AIDS support NGOs, as well as Community Based Organizations that have similar interests.
Meetings, seminars, conferences at national and international level.
Workshops, programme exchanges, consultations and provision of technical support.
Commemoration of Lights of Hope, World AIDS Day and other Important Days.

information gathered from http://www.eveforlife.org/default.html

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As I sat in a Sharda University auditoriom which hosted the International Youth Forum for Policy, Change and Development in New Delhi, India, I hesitantly prepared myself for what had already been half day of rapidly successive speeches and powerpoint presentations, a few of which dragged me helplessly into an abyss of painstaking boredom and inattentiveness.  I was attending about the fifth of such conferences and as you rightly guessed, this wasn’t the first of such occurrence. A fairly few amount of equally blank expressions suggested (sadly thankfully) that I may have had company. 

In some side-talks with my very friendly friends from India and Trinidad & Tobago, I commented on the ‘monotony’ of these lectures and the missed opportunity to tap into the minds of the youth attending the conference for a more incisive, interactive and inclusive forum. Far too often, conferences run the risk of becoming series of mini-lectures with inattentive participants and very little to walk away with in practical terms.  It was in those informal talks that one of the Indian delegates mentioned the concept of an ‘unconference’ (pardon my ignorance!). 

Upon a quick research of the terminology, I found out that "…an unConference is a flexible, participant-driven answer to a traditional conference. It favors [sic] discussion, debate and interaction over talking head presentations."  This was the exact sort of thing I was thinking about, minus the fancy appendage! In a world where conferences are becoming the preferred avenue for the ventillation of various issues with a view to finding mutually workable solutions, conference organisers should be careful not to perpetuate the cycle of talk-shops that persists even at the macro-international level. It has been said that much of the solutions from conferences are born during coffe breaks and informal discussions. This might be true but for obvious reasons should not be the case. Based on the unconference model, organisers should strive to create a space for its particpants to share ideas and insights, craft creative solutions to problems and become more proficient in tackling the various issues covered after having left the conference. Of course, conference attendees also have the responsibility for their own learning and development. However, it is possible that the unconference model may be able to facilitate easier more efficient decision-making processes. 

There appears to be limitation to this model though and clearly one size does not fit all. For example, the model requires an expert audience for it to work and a great level of precision must be employed in directing the flow of such a conference. Nevertheless, what is clear is the need for conferences to me more efficient, inclusive and reflective of comprehensive and efficiently exectued agendas. I intend to explore the subject more. 

But for now what do you think? Still developing my thoughts and crafting more cogent reasons for endorsing the model….

Categories: Uncategorized
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“Wrap it up,” “No glove, no love,” and my all time favorite “Don’t be silly, protect your Willie.” These are just a few of the quotes that you hear or see about safe sex. And while you may have all intentions of wanting to be safe, I could see how you may be confused about where to start because of all the condoms available in today’s market. From small to xL, ribbed, studded, glow in the dark, flavored and latex versus non-latex, how does anyone expect you to know what to buy?

Despite that, picking a condom should be a fun experience. Whenever you and your partner decide to become sexually active, the two of you could decide what condoms to try so that instead of condoms being seen as “killing the mood,” they become apart of the foreplay. Some important tips to remember in the condom search are

1. You want a latex or polyurethane (if allergic to latex) condom to protect against the transmission of diseases AND unintended pregnancies.
2. Always check the expiration dates. If the condom is expired DO NOT use it.
3. Wear the RIGHT SIZE condom.
4. Use a condom for anal, oral and vaginal sex.
5. Learn the correct way to use a condom and only use a condom ONCE.
6. Always inspect the outside of the condom for holes. If there are any holes in the wrapper or the condom is dried up DO NOT use it.

Keeping these in mind, the search for the right condoms for you and your partner should be a fun one! From the flavored and edible condoms used for oral sex, the studded and warming condoms for increased pleasure and sensitivity how could you NOT want to use condoms? With all of the different types, protecting yourself could not get any better!

For more information on the many types out there that you can try, check out Top 20 Best Condoms You Must Buy And Try, Condom Types: A Look At Different Condom Styles and Using Condoms, Condom Types and Sizes.

Categories: Condoms, Uncategorized
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I have come to understand that there is nothing particularly wrong with having preferences. Actually, I believe that preferences are very good. An example, I really enjoy chewing gum. Whenever I go out I usually have a pack in my pocket but if I don’t have any then I will stop by the store and grab whatever is available. Although I prefer Orbit, I’ll settle for some Spearmint if I am in a rush. Flexibility is very important because you never be able to fully prepare for every situation. Although you enjoy a particular brand, you should always be willing to be flexible. Adapt to your current situation. There is nothing wrong with using a lifestyle because you don’t have a Magnum available. Both are condoms which provide essential protection from STD’s and STI. Any form of contraception is better than no contraception at all. So next time your near a condom dispensing station, go ahead and grab that lifestyle because you never know when it will come in handy.

Categories: Condoms, Uncategorized
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Today is the last day of the Rio+20. A summit that we all had great expectations from, a summit that we knew might not deliver as much as we wanted (because we did want a changed world) but at least something that would move forward and not backwards in terms of achievements. I could go on and on about what the potential of this place was and how that potential will remain a potential. People are actually depressed, so much so that this place (Rio Centro) which was crowded with people was literally deserted today. People did come but there was a lack of urgency and enthusiasm. People had already lost hope so much so that the youth space has been filled with the words "depressed", "disappointed" and "dismal" in relation to Rio and its outcome.

So with this post I hope to inspire some spirit and say that all is not lost, we still have miles to go before we sleep.
Hilary Clinton who was here at Rio+20 made her statement today. She said that United Stated will uphold Reproductive rights specially in all international agreements. while her feelings were upheld by other countries like Iceland and Norway who were even applauded for saying "Reproductive rights are not negotiable". >hoot out to them<. Switzerland said that the outcome document missed a historic opportunity and mentioned reproductive rights as one such example.

So, our efforts did pay off even if the document was…
To conclude I will leave with two inspiring ladies who pumped up some energy and enthusiasm in me when I attended a side event (Date with History: Britany, a young 17 year old girl was selected to speak to the Leaders at the opening plenary) where they were speaking.

(yeah, that is Severn!!)

(Christina Figueres was appointed Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change speaking about what the power of youth can do!!)

Roli is a Rio+20 fellow with Adopt a Negotiator. She can be followed at @scholarfreak on Twitter.

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Independence Day is less than two weeks away! From now through July 4, we hope you’ll join us to show the country that young people are still standing up for birth control!

In February, the Obama administration affirmed its commitment to women’s health care and issued a rule requiring birth control coverage without co-pays under the health care law. It makes sense: Birth control is basic, preventive health care.

Despite a solution that upholds women’s health AND guarantees that insurance companies — not religious colleges or institutions — foot the bill, some social conservatives still aren’t happy. Their attacks on the President have steadily increased and will reach a fever pitch in the next two weeks — which means it’s time once again for all of us to raise our voices!

This Independence Day, declare YOUR independence from those conservative leaders who want to control your body and block women’s health!

TELL PRESIDENT OBAMA AND HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY SEBELIUS THAT YOU SUPPORT THEIR DECISION to make birth control available with no co-pay. Download your "United We Stand" poster, fill it out, and take your picture. Post it on Facebook and email to us at BC4US2012@gmail.com.*

Then tweet it to @WhiteHouse and @HHSGov with the hashtag #BC4US.

Over the next two weeks, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is staging its "Fortnight for Freedom," trying to bully President Obama and Secretary Sebelius into reversing course on birth control. But, the Bishops don’t speak for everyone. In fact, nearly 2 in 3 Americans support insurance coverage for birth control. After all, 99% of all women — and 98% of Catholic women — have used birth control in their lifetime. This isn’t about "religious freedom," it’s about women’s health!

Earlier this year, you delivered more than 1,000 photos demanding that Congress stop the attacks on birth control. Now, let’s make sure President Obama and Secretary Sebelius know we’re standing with them for women’s health!

I just sent my photo…Will you join me?

Do it for your country!

Julia Reticker-Flynn
Youth Activist Network Manager
Advocates for Youth

P.S. Your awesome work is already making the news! The BC4US campaign was featured in Politico this morning: "To counter the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ ‘Fortnight for Freedom’ protesting the Obama administration’s contraception coverage rule (and other policies they say infringe on their beliefs), Advocates for Youth will announce today that it’s re-launching its ‘Birth Control 4 Us’ campaign…They first initiated the campaign in February in support of birth control in student health plans, collecting valentines reading ‘Hands off my birth control.’" Click here to get involved!

By posting on Amplify’s Facebook Page or emailing us your photos, you give permission for these photos to be used for any Advocates for Youth materials, including but not limited to websites and printed publications. All photos must be of people age 18 or older.

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Every minute, a young woman is newly infected with HIV. Scary thought, especially as a woman. The statistics are staggering.

As of 2012:
• Worldwide, young women ages 15-24 are the most vulnerable to HIV infection. They are      TWICE as likely than men to become infected and account for 22% of all new HIV infections.
• Globally, less than 30% of young women have comprehensive, correct knowledge on HIV.
• HIV is the leading cause of death of women of reproductive age.

In the United States alone, there are an estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV and one in five don’t know they are infected. While it is a terrifying thought to imagine having HIV, getting the necessary medical care is the first step. To avoid this altogether, remembering to practice safe sex EACH AND EVERY time you have sex is important. While being on a reliable method of birth control such as the pill, patches, implanon or IUD is important, NONE OF THESE METHODS protect against STDs or HIV/AIDS. So it is important that you also utilize one of the barrier methods available to you. DON’T BECOME A STATISTIC!

As National HIV Testing Day approaches on June 27th, it is important for you to not only know your HIV status but to continue to protect yourself if you are HIV negative, whether you are man or woman. For more information and my sources check out National HIV Testing Day and UNAIDS.

Categories: HIV, Uncategorized
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The last few days have been extraordinary! And proof that the power of youth is great and that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to.

You might have heard on Friday, June 15 that President Obama granted deferred action to undocumented students. This announcement came after almost four years of the worst presidential record on the history of immigration.

It came after students staged sit-ins in congressional offices, hunger strikes, lobbying members of Congress, and more sit-ins, in Obama for America offices. And it might have helped that TIME magazine featured a cover story and picture with 35 undocumented students (including myself) and Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer Prize journalist who came out as undocumented on the New York Times last year.

This new policy is supposed to grant deferred action to undocumented student who meet the following criteria: 1) came to the US under the age of sixteen, 2) have lived in the US for at least five years prior to June 15, 2012, 3) currently in school, graduated from high school, have obtained a GED or are honorably discharged from the Armed Forces, 4) have no criminal record, and 5) not be over the age of thirty. This new policy is by NO mean the DREAM Act and can be literally taken away with the snap of a finger. There is also no path to citizenship of legalization. If undocumented students meet these criteria then they get deferred action, meaning they cannot be deported and would qualify to apply for a worker’s permit.

Personally I am hopeful but skeptical about the new immigration policy. There have been similar announcements in the past and not much has been done. There are more deportations than ever before, more families are being separated, and students are still being deported. I am hopeful that this is finally a first step in the right direction of fixing the broken immigration system. But be assured that we’ll make sure that this time that this policy will be meaningful. We plan to hold the President accountable to this new policy. We won’t be fooled twice and we’ll make sure that we are heard. After all, while many of us can’t vote, our friends and some of the members of our families can. It is about accountability.

And if anyone has ever doubted the power of youth this proves them wrong. Much of what has been accomplished is due to the perseverance of undocumented students and their supporters. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t’ have any power because you do! You have the power to make any meaning change that you want, you just have to keep doing it and eventually all of the pieces fall in place.

Categories: Uncategorized
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In the month of May, many prominent African Americans and African American organizations have come to the forefront to endorse same sex marriage. With President Obama making the historic announcement in the special interview with Robin Roberts, other African American leaders such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, recently endorsed same sex marriage in a special interview conducted by William Blitzer. The most surprising vow of approval came from the recent endorsement from the NAACP which is the one of the oldest black civil rights organizations in our country. The NAACP have long held soft approval of same sex marriage as it relates to some issues of same sex discrimination, but to outright endorse same sex marriage as an institution marks significant progress. Recent polls have highlighted a growing trend of tolerance as it relates to same sex marriage within the African American community. This change in attitude gives great hope to HIV/AIDS activists as they combat the presence of the deadly disease by creating a more tolerant atmosphere. One recent Activist in India commented that the only way to fully deal with HIV/AIDS is to legalize homosexuality. Given that almost forty percent of new cases of HIV/AIDS is within the African American community, I wonder if this new trend would allow people to deal with the reality that AIDS is real in our community. If Black LGBT could feel that they had the full support of their community, then maybe we can have a more coordinated community efforts that just doesn’t’ deal with the disease, but also that atmosphere of shame that brings about poor decisions. Although President Obama is only one person and the NAACP is just one organization, let’s hope that their wide spread influence brings about even more “Change”.  

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 I wasn’t really sure if the Condom Campaign was even being noticed at my college. However, my father showed me a picture on our local newspaper’s Facebook page about people that were calling in about the Egg hunt. I’m hoping the calls weren’t all bad. I was just trying to make something fun and exciting for the students. Everyone I heard from enjoyed the hunt and want to do it again next Spring. So maybe I won’t have it around Easter. I’ll do it in March instead of April. It will still be an egg hunt. 300 eggs instead of 100 next time. I won’t hide them all at once. I’ll spread them out. But for Fall 2012… Bingo! 

However… My student life director wants to help me turn the Condom Campaign into a club at our school. This way we will find someone to take my place when I leave and get some start-up money for events. This is gonna be great! Once I find some people to join, I’ll find an advisor and write up the club constitution. Having some financial help is great, I hope all of this goes well.

Categories: Uncategorized
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by Bianca Laureano

I’ll admit I have stopped watching Glee. It probably was after season 2. There was too much performing of Blackness for me to be comfortable with, and the writers decisions on a lot of the plot and storylines seemed irresponsible and tired to me. However, I am still in the loop of what’s going on with the show for the most part. This is partially because I watched The Glee Project. 

Now that The Glee Project is in its second season and they are openly discussing adding new talent to the cast as they age, I’m more interested in this process than in the final product of the show. However, there’s something interesting and odd about this season of The Glee Project. I’m so happy that the cast of folks are incredibly diverse. This is something that I do enjoy. It is also something that I don’t.

If you are watching the second season then you know what I mean by “diverse” cast of potential youth cast members. For those of you who are not watching let me share. This season there are two people with disabilities, one young trans man of Color, two women of Color one who identifies as a Turkish Muslim, a young Asian man, a few queer folks, and one woman of size. However, as diverse as this cast is, the 14 folks, 9 of them are racially white as the 4 main “judges.”

I say that because this is where one of my discomforts arises: with the judges. I am so over youth only having racially white mentors in this field. Of all the special guests and people of Color who have been a part of creating the show (beyond the handful of talented youth of Color) the four core judges, and that’s exactly what they do judge the youth and their performance. As an educator, someone who works with and values youth, watching this show and the process of all racially White people (3 men and one woman) judging youth really impacts me.

It may also trigger for me personal experiences of having older racially White people judge me and knowing how I’ve had to heal from such traumatic experiences. To witness this in such a public way makes my heart ache. It gets to the point where I’m skipping over final call back performances! This type of stress and anxiety has already lead to the only Black woman on the show choosing to leave early!

Then there is the issue of the obvious attempts for more diversity in this cast for season 2. Part of me realizes that all of the youth are extremely talented, yet the judges may have selected them because of the “unique” life situations and experiences they bring with them. The one trans man of Color, Tyler, has been told several times that his “life experiences” and story is so “unique” and he’s so “brave” and that it “inspires” the writers. These comments seem so self-serving. I worry that they really only desire a trans* person on the cast so they have the opportunity to explore trans* topics on the show (again?) and that they will really mess it up!

The young Muslim woman, Aylin, is already been depicted as overly and hyper-sexualized, kissing several of the white boys (not all just as part of the role they have to do) while other youth are free to call her names. Not one adult or person in the room challenges the name calling that we witness. This was a way to show judges that her “sassy” personality was back. This is true and what they advertise on the show! And we know, or hopefully readers know, that shaming and name calling folks rarely leads to positive change in their lives. I get the impression they are exploiting their identities.

For example, at the beginning of the second season’s second episode where they give a recap the voiceover says “there’s pretty girls that come in all size. Small, medium and large, there’s even one on wheels, a transgender male, a cute blind guy, an Asian guy with red hair, a Justin Bieber look-alike who is actually a girl, and hot guys who are smart too.”

I’m watching because the show centers youth, youth with various differences and who are extremely talented. As one friend said (and I’m paraphrasing) “if you work with youth in any situation you need to watch The Glee Project.” I’m not sure I’d say this myself, but I do think it is an interesting look into what goes on when attempting to cast for a show that still has a presence among young viewers.

What are your thoughts about The Glee Project? Does it give you what you are looking for in a show? Do you share some similar or different questions? What do you think about the potential cast? And do you have any favorites?

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Earlier this week I attended the Take Back The American Dream (TBAD) Conference in DC. The conference featured some impressive speakers, including former Chair of the Democratic Party Howard Dean, Van Jones, Sandra Fluke, Molly Katchpole and famed economist Paul Krugman. We heard fiery speeches all with the same message: our work does not end after Election Day.

TBAD was a progressive call to action and I heard it loud and clear. Since the 2008 election I have been working on plethora of issues in Texas. First in the Rio Grand Valley and now in Houston, but I have noticed that not everyone my age is as engaged.

Too often, I hear my generation voice their thoughts on the political process and how they would like to stay out of it all. Notably, in Texas they say "what’s the point?" I get it – For too long Texas politicians have worked against youth; talked down to us and incessantly impeded on our rights.

Enough is enough. I’ve lived in Texas my entire life and I think the only hope for this state is the engagement of young people in politics. I know I am fighting for what is right; I’m fighting for the generation after me that has yet to find its voice, I’m fighting for my generation which struggles with their newly cognizant idea of politics. Most importantly I’m fighting for you! But I can’t do it alone, I need your help.

Sitting back and not participating hasn’t worked, and many of those in power are fine with our disengagement. The far-right politicians who dominate our state’s politics don’t show concern for the issues that matter to young people – and it’s partly our fault. Young people aren’t reading or watching the news, we don’t interact with our elected officials, hell -we don’t even vote! But you know what? The time has come for things to change.

The election is nearly four months away, but don’t get fooled into thinking it’s all about the race to the White House. This election is about who represents you. It’s about who supports health care for those who cannot afford it, it’s about giving those who were not brought here on their own will a chance at the only way of life they’ve ever known, it’s about making sure us queer folk are given the same rights as straight kids, it’s about having officials who respect the ability of women to make decisions of their own, it’s about having a fair say in the political dialogue in the era of citizens united.

We have the opportunity to determine our destiny and help the generation that follows. We also have the opportunity to remain silent. I for one know that I will speak up and speak out. I will not let the chains of injustice hold me back any longer. I’m a young gay man who believes in women’s rights and LGBTQIA equality, inner city kids, the separation of church and state, overturning citizens united and fighting for the marginalized few. Young peoples’ interests are just as diverse as we are. I will fight for these people, but today I ask for you to stand with me.

Whether you’re in Texas, California, Illinois, New York, Florida or anywhere in between I call on you to stand up. We are the majority and as such we have a great deal of power. We can have the society we dream of but it will take our collective actions to change the status quo.

The choice to participate in the upcoming election is the same choice we have to make in life. We can either follow a path of ignorance and complacency or we can make our own path; a path with true justice and equality for all, a path which forces those who write us off as apathetic and lazy to realize we are a passionate, powerful force. In other words, a path forward.

It’s likely that you’re already engaged, but I call on you to work harder than ever to bring those who are not to realize what impact they can have. I call on you to empower your fellow classmates, your friends, your brothers and sisters. Stand up for us, stand up and make your voice heard not just in this election, but every election to come. This is the moment that defines us, this is our future and this is for those to come. This is your moment to force those who ignore you to recognize your existence.

Generation ME, will you stand with me?

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There’s more going on in the Michigan legislature than banning a female representative from speaking on the House floor for daring to say the word “vagina” during a debate on abortion. Last week, the State House passed HB4050, the “Julea Ward Freedom of Conscience Act.” If approved by the Senate, this bill will allow college students studying to be counselors in social work and psychology programs to refuse services to clients if they have “goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the student, if the student refers the client to a counselor who will provide the counseling or services.”

The bill was named after a graduate student from Eastern Michigan University who was kicked out of their counseling program for refusing to counsel a gay client. She insisted that being gay “goes against what the Bible said.” The University, and the Federal District Court that dismissed her suit against the school, insisted that they “had a right and duty” to follow the “professional ethic rules” that make up the University’s “counseling accreditation.”

The Court’s dismissal is in line with a December 2011 ruling of the 11th Circuit Court in Georgia that agreed that Augusta State University was right for expelling Jennifer Keetan from their graduate counseling education program for the same reason. In their ruling, they stated that counselors have a responsibility to their clients.

Counselors must refrain from imposing their moral and religious values on their clients.

The Family Equality Council, a national organization advocating for LGBT families, said of Michigan’s attempt to allow discrimination of LGBT clients who require counseling services:

This bill effectively allows a student of psychology to go against the spirit of the discipline by simply ignoring scientific and professional standards. Healthcare, whether mental or physical, should be patient-centered: it is not up to the whim of the therapist to deny caring for an at-risk client.

As ThinkProgress points out, while professional Christian counselors (i.e., those who are licensed through religious organizations, such as the National Christian Counselors Association, and are held to ethical standards based on religious law rather than state law) are legally able to choose to refuse services to LGBT individuals, and it is not guaranteed that they will attempt to find this person a suitable replacement for care.

Even the very act of deferring could add to the stigma and the harm the client is already experiencing, let alone the potential that harmful ex-gay therapy might be offered instead. The ethical standards exist for a reason, and should HB4050 become law, it would compromise the integrity of all counseling programs in the state of Michigan.

For educational programs that offer state-licensed counseling degrees, it is unethical for those counselors to serve the public under discriminatory, religious guidelines. Ethical standards exist in law to ensure that those in need are able to receive care without being further stigmatized. Yet, part of the reason HB4050 passed the House in Michigan is that the state has no anti-discrimination law protecting sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. If you live in Michigan, find your Senator and ask them to vote No on the “Julea Ward Freedom of Conscience Act.”

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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When most people think of Texas they don’t think of LGBTQ pride. In fact, they think the opposite. They think of state that, until a landmark 2003 Supreme Court ruling, made same-sex sexual activity a criminal offense for which you could face arrest. They think of a state that overwhelmingly passed an amendment to its constitution in 2005 which banned equal marriage. They think of a state that does not have any legal protection for LGBTQ people against discrimination by employers. They think of a state that provides sex education that either demonizes LGBTQ youth or pretends they don’t exist.

In many ways, these ideas of Texas are accurate, but there is another side to Texas – the Texas we should be thinking about. There is a Texas in which Houston, the largest city in state and the fourth largest city in the country, has the nation’s first openly-lesbian mayor. There is a Texas which has some of the largest and most numerous pride parades and festivals each year. There is a Texas where the Mayor of El Paso stood up for equal domestic partner benefits for LGBTQ city employees and caused a national conversation. There is a Texas which just nominated its second ever openly-LGBTQ individual to serve in the Texas House of Representatives, a Latina from El Paso.

There is a Texas which is changing – one that is young and full of open-minded people who celebrate each other’s individuality. Texas is a big, diverse state – something that we’re proud of. More and more, young LGBTQ Texans are feeling confident to speak out and demand equal treatment and respect for their community. I’m lucky to work with some of these amazing young people every day. In particular, I have been inspired by James Lee, one of our Cultural Advocacy Mobilization Initiative student leaders, who has grown to become an amazing activist for equality. He’s worked diligently to raise awareness for LGBTQ equality on his campus and in his city. I’m also proud to work alongside so many youth allies to the LGBTQ community. With their work and the rise of millennials into political power, I am confident that Texas will be a place of great change. June is a month Texans should be proud of the achievements we’ve had and will continue to have for LGBTQ equality. The way I see it, if things are changing in Texas – they’re changing everywhere.

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The "Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights" side event, hosted by Advocates for Youth and partner organizations, not only highlighted young people’s perspectives on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), but also examples of youth leadership and how the power of global activism can elevate youth SRHR around the world.

In this video,  Leo shares how he was involved in the Time is Now campaign, a youth-led campaign that has mobilized youth to leverage youth SRHR at the annual UN Meeting on Climate Change, hosted by the UNFCCC.  As a result, Ms. Christiana Figueres’, UNFCCC Executive Secretary responded to our campaign with a letter explaining ways our global youth advisory board can work in partnership wtih the UNFCCC to ensure youth SRHR is a priority. 

Check out Leo’s speech on the Time is Now campaign here:

The Time is Now campaign, has also confirmed a partnership with Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Youth through the efforts of one of our youth advisory board members, Milinda. As a result of Milinda’s advocacy efforts, the Ministry of Youth co-sponsored our side event, and the Director General of Youth Affairs provided remarks reinstating the importance of Member States’ support for youth SRHR in the Rio+20 negotiations. 

Hear remarks from Mr. Piyum Perera, Director General of Youth Affairs at the Ministry of Youth, Sri Lanka here:

In addition to Mr. Perera’s support for youth SRHR, he also highlights the importance of governments’ action to ensure young people are meaningfully participating in high-level meetings like the Commission on Population Development (CPD) and Rio+20.  

The Sri Lanka government has taken this active leadership to ensure youth participation, where "two young delegates attended the CPD meeting this past April and 6 youth delegates are here for Rio+20."

We hope that Member States, like Sri Lanka, can take a stand to support the Time is Now campaign, at Rio+20, especially since countries like the Holy See, Russia, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Chile, Syria, Egypt, Costa Rica all spoke against including reproductive rights in the gender section of the Rio+20 draft outcome document. 

At the same time, countries like Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay, Mexico, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, the United States, and Iceland have all spoken in support of retaining reproductive rights in the text and argued that they are both crucial to sustainable development, gender equality and women’s empowerment.

We need to keep pressuring governments in support of youth SRHR to take a more active role in the negotiations!  We encourage youth activists both in Rio+20 and in their home countries to take an urgent action now, as there are only a few days remaining in the Summit:

– Contact your respective governments
– Reach out to local media channels
– Use social media (Facebook and Twitter!)
– Blog on Amplify and share your passion for youth SRHR at Rio+20!

– For more information, check out the Time is Now campaign page at www.amplifyyourvoice.org/thetimeisnow or contact mimi@advocatesforyouth.org.

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On June 19, at the Rio+20 Summit, Advocates for Youth, Population Action International, Sierra Club and Youth Coalition  hosted a side event titled, "Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in the Context of Sustainable Development."   Young leaders from Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines and the United States spoke about how they see the importance of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in the context of discussions related to climate change and sustainable development, such as Rio+20, also known as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.

My colleague, Leo, from the Philipinnes shares his perspective on how the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people, particularly among young women, are directly connected to environmental justice and sustainable development.

He gives an example by sharing the story of what happens often to women who sell dried fish in his province Leyte, in the Philippines. He says,

"The women of Leyte are on the front lines of an unfolding environmental crisis. The Gulf they depend on for their livelihood has been ravaged by overfishing and the destruction of coral reefs, forests and mangroves. Where fishers once reeled in up to 50 kilograms a day, the average has now dropped to just 0-5 kilograms, barely enough to feed a family. And climate change has disrupted the weather, making it too unpredictable to dry fish under the heat of the sun. The result, for the women of Leyte, is a substantial loss of income. Large families are still the norm in Leyte, where most women have more than four children. Many would like to prevent or delay having another child; one in three births is unwanted or mistimed. But too many lack access to family planning and reproductive health services and information."

Check out this video of Leo at the side event:

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 Last Friday, we alerted Virginia residents to a protest against a proposed new law that would set onerous regulations on Virginia women’s health clinics, in an attempt to shut down most clinics in the state which offered abortions.

Hundreds of protestors turned out  to protest the new regulations!

Ultimately the board passed the regulation – but exempted existing abortion clinics from having to meet the requirements (limiting them to new clinics).  

"Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers" or TRAP laws are increasingly a tactic used by the far right to limit abortion access by any means necessary.  For instance, the TRAP provision in the Michigan omnibus anti-abortion bill we’ve been following would require clinics to have the same equipment as surgical centers even if they don’t do any surgical procedures – among many other changes.

We are glad Virginia’s existing clinics won’t be subject to these requirements and can continue to provide care to Virginia’s women – and proud of Virginia’s pro choice activists for creating the outcry that led to this decision. But regulations that target abortion clinics specifically are unfair and  dangerous for the state’s women.  Look out for TRAP laws in your state, and tell your reps to vote against them! 

Categories: Abortion, Uncategorized
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For the past few days here in Rio, we have more tears than victory. It seems that the heavens is joining us today to mourn the tragedy that will unfold as the United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development (UNCSD) or better known as Rio+20 commences. The governments of the world have disappointed us by deleting important provisions on sexual and reproductive health and rights and the recognition of young adolescents rights for access to family planning services and comprehensive sexuality education.

Six days ago, the Holy See, who is a non-member of the United Nations but enjoys the status as an Observer nation proposed to delete the provisions of the ICPD (International Conference on Population and Development) and the Beijing Program of Action (PoA) in the Gender section of the negotiated texts. To my surprise, Indonesia, who has championed the ICPD+20 Process and Beijing PoA forwarded the suggestion of the Holy See in behalf of G77 and was supported by (Argentina, Brazil, China, India, South Africa, and Uruguay).

As it was reported by our colleagues inside the negotiation room, the G77 (negotiated by Indonesia) supported every ammendment proposed by the Holy See and in addition proposed the deletion of the following language in the Health Section:

1. Delete "full" implementation of ICPD and Beijing"

2. Delete Human rights of women: add men and children because women are not a specific category

3. Right of adolescents to decide freely and responsibly on matters relating to their sexuality (delete adolescents, replace with youth, delete sexuality, keep SRH).

Following arguments of the Holy See about how adolescent are children and need basic health care. The Holy See stated that the CPD Outcome Document was not the reflection of international consensus but "only a commission of the UN". It is absolutely unacceptable that the G77 as a block is speaking in this way when we know it is not a consensus position within the G77, which is true, because my country the Philippines cannot look back on the lot of every Filipino women especially that the government is supportive of the RH Bill.

But, thanks to our Indonesian friends who contacted their government back home in Jakarta, the position of Indonesia changed and G77, which had no consensus on this issue allowed its member-states to split up and speak individually as a nation. As Esther Agbarakwe updates us, "Gender 7 was agreed ad ref today and the Health 8 (Health and Population) had a new language referenced from ECOSOC 2009 paragraph 16, proposed by G77. The new text was adopted by all delegation while the Holy See registered their deep reservation."

This is a victory! But the struggle continued in the succeeding days which I will be telling you as I go along in this blog post. It is sad to note that some G77 countries are making this move against women and young people. Folks, 7/11 current female Heads of State belongs to G77 countries and 35% of these member-states have produced female Heads of State and/or Heads of Government which includes Megawati Sukarnoputri, Cristina Kirchner, Dilma Rousseff, Soong Ching-ling, Pratibha Patil, and Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri among others.

So what if these countries have women leaders?

We are hoping that through their leadership, they can accelerate the empowerment of women in their own countries and translate it further in the international scene especially in conventions and negotiations such as Rio+20 by supporting provisions in the text that mentions women, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and young people; negotiating when these provisions are threatened; lobbying it when it is not included; and defending it when conservative states try to eradicate those provisions.

I believe that this is SHOULD how women leaders ACT in behalf of their female and youth constituents back home. We are expecting that their governments have a sense of solidarity on our causes because they at least know HOW IT FEELS to be considered as a second-rate citizen, not to have POWER and INFLUENCE, and being DEPRIVED of the RIGHT to CHOOSE and have OPTIONS to consider. Sadly, this is not the case. Most of these even participated in KILLING provisions on SRHR, women, and young people.

The celebration was shortlived.

Two days ago, at around 5 o’clock in the afternoon, we received an urgent e-mail from Sarah Kennell, a fellow youth and SRHR advocate from Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YC-SRR) from the United States who was at the room P3-A where the negotiations are telling us that  the "negotiators just finished commenting on the health section of the text  and the G77 has proposed to remove references to young people in paragraph 147 which is as follows:" 

147. We commit to reduce maternal and child mortality, and to improve the health of women, men, youth and children. We reaffirm our commitment to gender equality and to protect the rights of women, men and youth to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including access to sexual and reproductive health, free from coercion, discrimination and violence. We will work actively to ensure that health systems provide the necessary information and health services addressing the sexual and reproductive health of women, including working towards universal access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable modern methods of family planning, as this is essential for women’s health and advancing gender equality.

The proposal of G77 country-members (Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Syria) as backed by the Holy See and Russia to remove references to young people in commitments to reduce maternal mortality, improve health of women, men, youth and children and reaffirm commitments to gender equality and language on youth having control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality,including access to sexual and reproductive health is a serious blow to us young people and women. It is the ONLY provision in the ENTIRE text about gender, SRHR, and women!

This is NOT the FUTURE WE want.

As of the latest texts available right now that was compiled by the government of Brazil, there is no reference in the Gender Section of the negotiated text about sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people. This is disheartening. SRHR guarantees that women have access to family planning services, that young people have comprehensive sexuality education which, bottomline, is that at the end of the day women and young people can have an INFORMED CHOICE.

If they have all these factors about their sexuality, then they can decide whether to have family or not. When they chose to have, they can plan it well according to the numbering, spacing, and timing of the children they wanted considering their capacity to raise children and give them quality life in the future. Should they chose not to, they can still be free from HIV/AIDS and live a healthy life. You can see that from the CHOICES they made, a lot of opportunities is opened to them and they can participate well in sustainable development efforts.

We NEED to have SRHR provisions BACK in the texts!

And we need to ACT fast!

I urge you to contact your government delegation especially young people who are in it. Let us show them that women and young people have the power to hold their governments accountable. Show to them whos is the REAL BOSS! We have ELECTED government officials not to make them powerful and rich but to REPRESENT us as their constituents. National and local elections are still ongoing for most countries around the world. I think one should consider in voting if your candidate supported your RIGHTS.

Would you still VOTE a POLITICIAN who bastardize your rights here in Rio?

I think NOT! But you still decide.

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Rio Centro is a store house of information and regulations. Everyone can be seen talking (seriously and not so seriously) in corridors, near the laptops, in the lunch room and of course, within the negotiation rooms. Monday and Tuesday were days where every second minute some new amendment was made to the (negotiated) text and you heard new updates, so much so that on Tuesday night I just didnt know what was true and what was a rumour. A quick glance said : "THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT THE FUTURE I WANT!"

These two days have spelt trouble for civil society because everything that the stakeholders (different groups of people from the civil society) have or had proposed took a backseat.

It was like a drama unfolding. People wait until about 2:00 am on Tuesday morning to hear or rather get the new text. A small room has more people than it can possibly accommodate and then after a long wait, the people standing/sitting are told, "Sorry, but you get the text tomorrow morning and not tonight". >HUH!<

The new text which was consolidated and presented at the plenary on Tuesday 10:30 am was…disappointing (to say the very least)? Can one really sum up the hit that almost 20 years of build-up and lobbying has taken as "disappointment"…well my English deserts me. But I have had other reasons to be disappointed or whatever-this-helpless-feeling is.
On Monday night I had received an email that read :

‘m sitting in room P3-A and negotiators just finished commenting on the health section of the text – G77 has proposed to remove references to young people in paragraph 147 which is as follows:

147. We commit to reduce maternal and child mortality, and to improve the health of women, men, youth and children. We reaffirm our commitment to gender equality and to protect the rights of women, men and youth to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including access to sexual and reproductive health, free from coercion, discrimination and violence. We will work actively to ensure that health systems provide the necessary information and health services addressing the sexual and reproductive health of women, including working towards universal access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable modern methods of family planning, as this is essential for women’s health and advancing gender equality

This is unacceptable…"
The text has changed little since the time I received this email. Each word in the document is a contented piece yet the countries unanimously accepted the text (or at least that is what was said during Tuesday’s plenary session. There are rumours that countries didnt agree but they were told by Brazil, who had been handed over the position of streamlining the document still further on the 15th, that there is almost never a universal consensus so lets us not agrue and ("boom") let us come up with a document fast. >fast at what cost? This conference of discussions hasn’t hit the acceleration lever for ages so why the hurry now? why indulge in rash driving without giving heed to who you might be hurting on the road?<.

On Monday night, almost all references to adolescents had been removed in the health section. It seems that adolescents were re-introduced to the paragraph but sexual reproductive health rights wasn’t (on tuesday: lobbyists will only get bread crumbs, satisfy yourself if you can!). One of the asks of the Major Group of Children and Youth tomorrow morning (ohhh….today morning) will be please give us our rights to our body back. How successful will this ask be is yet to be seen but if this random event that happened at one of the side events then I have my doubts.

I was attending a session on climate vulnerable countries and what are they doing to adapt themselves. The Minister of Environment from Bangladesh, Nepal and Costa Rica were there. During the Q and A session, the first question raised was about population. >so you see my dear friend, everyone sees the connect. People agree that population and climate change have interlinks but as you will see that they never speak of rights but repression of the same!<
The gentleman’s question was directed towards the leaders and the general public: Why doesn’t anyone ever speak about the elephant that we would all like to ignore: Population. We never speak about population or optimum level of population. >I wish I had recorded his question such that people would realise that we are a long way away from being effective in our advocacy methods specially if people can still talk in this manner as if China’s one child policy should be made a norm and we should have no choices! But that is not the only interesting thing, what was worth noting was the reaction of the leaders present in the room.<

The Bangladeshi Environment Minister addressed this by beginning with: population increase is related to climate change and sustainable development. If we had 3 billion population as was the case in 1971 then we would have half the cars that exist today…
>pasting the rest of his response recorded in the video. The quality might not be great but for all the sexual rights activists out there it is an eye opener. Not one of the responses given are adequate and one wonders why did they even bother to respond. Do they even understand the dynamics? And if I can raise this question then I can also raise the question, are they fit to negotiate for you and me?<

Roli is a Rio+20 fellow with Adopt a Negotiator. She can be followed at @scholarfreak on Twitter.

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While searching the youth led story in Nepal I went through lot of people asking them about their story, their life and their way of living. Their stories shocked me and made me think about for couple of days. But among those stories, there was one such story which I thought must be known by everyone and can be used as a lesson to all who think that their suffering is painful than that of others.
Nagira Khootan, a normal Muslim girl in a small village of Kapilvastu called Krishnanagar, is supposed to be a “curse” or “sin” done in previous life. With the desire to get boy, a girl named Najira Khootan was born. She had 5 sisters with no brother and it was also regarded as a curse for her. From the very beginning of her life she was subjugated and unloved by her parents. Not only from the parental love but also she was deprived of nutritious food and also from the education. She along with all her sister had to do all the household works and was treated as servant in her own house.
With the phase of time, she entered into adolescent period where she noticed physical changes. She was unknown and scared when she encountered menstruation period and the pain that she gets during those periods. She was in a thought that this was some kind of disease, she never knew about it. She was also scared to share it with her family as well. Sometimes she even noticed blood coming out even then she was silent but one day when tolerance was beyond her perimeter she expressed it with her sister only then she came to know about it which made her to tolerate a lot of pain within herself. She remembers what would be her situation at that time when she was unable to say a word to her parents about the change. Her mother was also a female but never tried to understand her because she was also grown up in same conservative society because she desired to get a boy for her family for easy doorway to heaven.
Time was passing but she was unaware about the sex education and way to handle it. Her marriage was fixed at the age of 16 with the boy who is 20 years older than her. Sudden case of marriage came to her life when her father saw her talking to a boy living nearby. Since she was unknown about simple sex education and other basic knowledge she entered to her married life. She was also unaware about the family planning and she became pregnant at the age of 18.She even did heavy work during those days which caused adverse effect in her health. Being pregnant at such a small age and carrying out household activities and lack of proper nutrients her health was deteriorated. Due to all these reason her child was born in critical situation and became malnutrient, unfortunately her baby died after ten days. She had return to her daily activities the day after due to which her health was more deteriorated.
After 2 years she again became mother and gave birth to a baby girl but as her father, her husband also wanted baby boy. She became pregnant five times in the hope and desire of a baby boy which was fulfilled at the sixth attempt. She never ever had any family planning measure nor her husband. Due to all these reasons, now she is struggling for her life.
If she would have provided sex education during her teenage she could have come up with her pain and obstacles and if she could have known about family planning she could have used certain measures to control her pregnancy. And the most important thing if she was provided with parental care she would never ever have encountered such pain in her life.

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It feels like so long ago when I attended the UN Meeting on Climate Change, COP15, in Copenhagen in 2009.  As a global youth sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) activist, many questioned why I was there and how youth SRHR was connected to climate change.  Fast forward three years, Advocates for Youth now hosts a youth advisory board of over 50 young people from around the world that have designed the Time is Now campaign, focused on mobilizing youth to advocate for the sexual and reproductive health rights of young people in the context of climate change in their countries and globally.

Most recently in Durban, at COP17, we asked UNFCCC Executive Secretary Ms. Christiana Figueres how can we elevate youth SRHR in the climate change negotiations?

Her response was “Take it to Rio.” 

Similarly at a briefing in Durban hosted by lead negotiator John Pershing, we asked him the same question.

He said, “Take it to Rio.”

Now, I’m here in Rio de Janeiro attending the UN Conference and Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20.  This is the meeting we have all been waiting for, where Member States would recognize and prioritize young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

 Well, the sad reality is that youth SRHR is not recognized as a priority at Rio+20.   

Yesterday the G77 proposed to remove references to young people in commitments to reduce maternal mortality, improve health of women, men, youth and children and reaffirm commitments to gender equality and language on youth having control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality,including access to sexual and reproductive health.

This morning the draft text, compiled by Brazil, does not include ANY reference to reproductive rights.

Who would have thought that our rights would be erased over night?< Did the negotiators think about the 215 million women around the world who have an unmet need for contraception? 

Judging by the new text released this afternoon–the answer is no, Rio+20 negotiators did not.  Through the Time is Now campaign, 1,128 young people from around the world signed a petition calling on the Rio+20 Secretariat, Bureau and Member States to include sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people in the Rio+20 outcome document.

Will their voices be heard?

Advocates for Youth and partner organizations are here at Rio+20 and we are fighting in full force for young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights! We ask you in this urgent time in the Rio+20 negotiations to:

 – Contact your respective governments

 – Reach out to local media channels 

 – Use social media (Facebook and Twitter!)

 – Blog on Amplify and share your passion for youth SRHR at Rio+20!

 – For more information, check out the Time is Now campaign page at www.amplifyyourvoice.org/thetimeisnow .

Want to do more? Contact mimi@advocatesforyouth.org

The Time is Now to make sure young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights is kept in the Rio+20 outcome document!


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Editor’s Note: The writer is from Namibia.

Late last year, I was seated on a plane headed back to home to Namibia from Addis Ababa. I couldn’t wait to get home to see my son and sisters and while I was thinking of them, I then I asked myself a question "Oh gosh, where am I coming from?" I answered myself, "Helena, you are coming from the International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infection in AFRICA (ICASA 2011)." Ooo, okay, and I just smiled.

I started thinking about the whole conference and what successful meeting it was for the young women who got the great chance to attend. As a young woman participant my expectations were fully met and I am happy. I went to ICASA as a positive mother, aunty, cousin, sister, and a young woman who is hungry for many things, especially making the world a better place for her and other fellow young women who don’t get this kind of opportunity. I am very happy to have organisation like Advancing Gender Equality and Human Right in the Global Response to HIV (ATHENA), UNAIDS, National Network of Positive Women Ethiopians (NNPWE) and others supporting us. They have seen the challenges that we face as young women, like limited opportunities for gaining knowledge and skills that pose barriers to our getting to where we want to be in life. Groups like these have great ways of bringing young leaders of today together and investing in them.

I know I am not educated but as I am seated here now, nobody can tell me what to do or put me down because I know who I am, what I want and when I want it [smiling]. I find that I am one of the luckiest young leaders/women in the world to be able to be in this group of young people with ATHENA. I know that we are all masters of our own destination and drivers of our own lives. Yes, I know and I will fight the hard road as a young woman who knows what she wants. Whatever I want is not only for me but for a million of young women who don’t get this opportunity to be here and who still don’t know what it means to have a right. I am proud to say that I am a young leader of today and I have always known that. I just really want to thank ATHENA, UNAIDS, ADVOCATES FOR YOUTH and others for giving us the chance to see proud young women who can be examples and help empower us, such as Ebony Johnson who has opened my eyes and the eyes of many young women worldwide with her powerful words. As a young woman, who wouldn’t want to be like her maybe? I think whoever doesn’t want to be like her doesn’t know what they want in life. She is one of the young powerful women I have met in my life and she asked us young women to hold hands because we need each other in life in whatever we do and wherever we are.

As a young woman I have no worries about my leadership because I know I am one among many. One day, I will be a proud woman to see a world with full, equal rights for all; the best health care for all; HIV positive women who can access the family planning methods of their choice; HIV positive women who can start a family when they want to; and the elimination of forced sterilization. As a young leader I believe that one day we will make the world a better place for everyone. My wish is also to go back to school and study whatever I want because it’s never too late to do anything and where there is a will, there is always a way.

In conclusion I just want to say thanks to all for trusting and investing in young people because whatever you are feeding us, it’s in us and we will use it in a wise way to change the world. Some of the young people who came to ICASA did not even understand global HIV/AIDS issues and now know many things — it means a lot to us as young leaders of today to have such opportunities. It’s important and helpful to me and other young women to be able to come together in a positive way. I hope that all young women will believe in themselves every day and when they fall down, I say just pick yourself up, move forward, and hope and think positive so that we can make the world a better place for us and for the next generation. Without you, I am nothing but with you, we will achieve a lot and together we can make the world a better place. Talk to you soon.

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            It may seems like the bills that unfavored and threaten women’s health are the only way women are being attack. Today I understood that women are being attack on many other different ways then those threatening healthcare bills.  During a War on women debate   at Take  Back The American  Dream  Dr. Maya Rockeymore detailed some hidden consequences of the talk of "balance the budget". She called it a  "Fiscal sexism" because  women  are the majority of recipient of social security. The idea of cutting the cost of living adjustment, which helps women because we live statistically live longer than men. 

                Those floating ideas certainly do not directly affect women’s health nor do they affect our agenda to sexually educate our youth. However, I think it is relevant for women to know that they are under attack on various level, so we can take a stance on those issues the same way we do for health care. The youth needs to be aware so we have a chance to make our voice heard  and not walk into a future where there is no social security and retirement age is raise to the day we die. 

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As many of you may know (hopefully from browsing through our social media sites ), May was National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. Although this month gets little national attention, but to Advocates this is a very important month. It serves as a basic reminder of why we do the work that we do. Research shows that better education leads to better decision making ,and who best to provide concrete knowledge to then your own peers. Personally I have seen many of my peers/friends become pregnant before they even had a chance to fully experience life. Bringing a life into this world is never a negative thing, but many of them were not ready to fully accept the responsibilities of parenthood, while some of them excelled. My mother had my oldest brother when she was 16 and she has done nothing but work hard her entire life to provide many opportunities for me and my sibling. Every year I believe that my mother is the “mother of the year” but I still wonder how different her life would be if she didn’t become a parent so young. She has spoken very sparsely about her younger dreams of going into the military and traveling the, but instead she sacrificed her dreams so that we could live ours. Now that I have gotten a little older with my own future knocking at the door, I’m motivated to provide the necessary knowledge to my friends so they won’t have to look back with any regrets. We only get one life to live, so why not put things on hold until you are fully ready to deal with the situation?

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Amplify has the stories you need to hear! With so many great contributors from all over the world, you definitely don’t want you to miss out on the top insightful and informative stories of the week. Check in each week for a list of must-read posts. Whether it’s a national story or a individual experience, these are the issues you care about!

June 10- June 16

Stats this week: 19 blogs by 8 writers

Quick hit: What’s going on with that “Gay parents” study?- by AFY_EmilyB

Inside this post:

1. The study asked about same-sex behavior, not orientation, so a person with a heterosexual-identified parent who had briefly had a same-sex partner qualified for the study.
2. The study examined current adults ages 18-39, who would have been growing up in, at the latest, the 1990s, and at the earliest, the 1970s.
3. The study was funded by the conservative think tank Witherspoon Institute, which opposes same-sex marriage.

Great Interview with Advocates’ Urooj on sexual health of Muslim youth- by AFY_EmilyB

Inside this post:

The big challenges American Muslim communities face are silence and stigma. Issues around reproductive and sexual health are either not talked about or not talked about in a way that is healthy. Silence and stigma can lead to negative health outcomes for young people, especially as they negotiate their lives here.

Sticking Away The Stigma- by Mbotiji

Inside this post:

In the course of our discussion, I told her about an observation which I had made concerning how people who don’t know each other, get into township taxis and start talking about any interesting topic. Two days later we met and she proposed an idea to me about producing short stickers containing basic information on HIV/AIDS and pasting them in Taxis. After our discussions, she contacted the American Peace Corps office in Bamenda and an organization called Health Development Consultancy Services which gave some financial resources to produce the stickers.

Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!

~ Samantha
Community Editor

My blog posts this week:
Interview: Melissa Sue Robinson; 1st Transgender Person to Win Primary- ID St. Senate, District 12
"I’m flattered you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no."
Kameron Slade, NYC 5th Grader, Banned from Giving Speech on Marriage Equality

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Yesterday we wrote about the case of Lisa Brown, the legislator who spoke out against Michigan’s oppressive new abortion bill, and who was banned from speaking on the Michigan House floor because she used the word "vagina."  Another lawmaker, Rep. Barb Bynum, was banned because she mentioned vasectomies.

Last night over 2500 people joined a protest and performance of the Vagina Monologues, hosted by playwright Eve Ensler.  The Associated Press wrote up the event:

Billed on Facebook as the "Vaginas Take Back the Capitol!" event, the combination play and protest included political signs and chants of "Vagina! Vagina!"

…Before the play began, Ensler joined Brown and Byrum on the Capitol steps and called for an apology from the Republicans who barred them from speaking.

"These women stood for our rights," Ensler said to applause. "The vaginas are out. We are here to stay."

Also check out this video of  the protest: 

We’ll keep watching Michigan’s anti-abortion bills – and the "War on women" throughout state legislatures.

Categories: Abortion, Uncategorized
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 I recently read about Lisa Brown being permanetly  banned from speaking on the house floor for saying the word "vagina" and I honestly was shocked that one 6 letter word would effect so many people. Why is it wrong to say a woman’s body part? Is someone unaware that woman have these? Vagina is not a bad or inappropriate word. How are girls suppose to grow up comfortable with their body’s if they aren’t even allowed to use the proper word for a simple body part?  For a woman to be silenced for voiceing her opinion is really sad and even more inappropriate than saying the word Vagina.

Categories: Uncategorized
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In May, I started a petition to get condoms into my highschool’s nurses office. Although I had support from many peers, I also recieved many negative questions. Finally I realized that many people don’t see contriceptives in a positive way. They look down apon them, especially when teenagers are using them. My first thought was, How can these parents, teachers, and senators look down on teenagers for getting pregnant when they have taught them all along that contreceptives are bad? When I asked this question to a teacher she snapped back at me " Well children shouldn’t be having sex in the first place!" The reality is that these " children" don’t feel like children anymore and they ARE having sex. They want to have these experiences and if the adults in their lives have not taught them how to have these experiences safe and controlled, than they will not be. Another statement I have heard many times before is "Giving teeneagers condoms is giving them permission!" To me, this phrase is like saying " Giving teenagers umbrellas will make it rain!" Having the protection does not encourage the action. If someone wants to have sex, 9 times out of 10, they will, rather they have contreceptives or not. 

Categories: Condoms, Uncategorized
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 I had the opportunity to attend the National Election States Strategies #NESS2012 over the weekend a training led by General Alliance. The training was geared towards teaching  strategies on how to organize our movements successfully, and how to collaborate with others organizations.  In this training, I learned valuable strategies on how to make our voice heard  and obtain comprehensive sexual education in Broward County Schools.One of those lessons, being to speak the value of our message to be able to connect with parents, and therefore get their support to achieve our goals in Broward County Schools.  

After this training,  I  look forward to work with other organizations who are ready to Support and help voice out our message. I  personally look forward to continuing our mission to obtain the sexual education that all young people need. 

Categories: Uncategorized
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By Esther Agbarakwe and Kim Lovell

There’s an African proverb which says “when you’re dancing in the village square, it’s the onlookers who can judge whether you’re dancing well or not.”

As the UN negotiations at Rio+20 unfold this week, youth advocates will be watching the “dance” to see if sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are recognized for their contribution to sustainable development.

Eighteen years ago, 179 countries met in Cairo for the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). The outcome of the conference was a twenty-year Programme of Action recognizing that every person counts, and that population is not about numbers but about people and their quality of life. It was a milestone in the history of population and development, as well as in the history of women’s rights.

Just over a month ago, at the 45th Session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD), member states issued a bold resolution in support of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and human rights.

Yet in the negotiating text of the outcome document for Rio+20, the inclusion of these rights is still uncertain. Language on family planning is hotly contested – at risk of being removed from the final draft – and SRHR issues are not mentioned at all.

If ICPD and CPD showed a commitment by world leadership to achieve a better quality of life for all, what will Rio+20 show?

At the COP 17 Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa last November, lead US negotiator Jonathan Pershing was asked about the lack of attention given to sexual and reproductive health and rights and contraceptive access in the climate negotiations. Mr. Pershing was quick to admit the importance of these services for women, communities, and the planet, but expressed doubt that they would come up formally due to the ‘controversial’ nature of the issue. “Take this to Rio” he recommended.

Along with other bloggers, organizers, young people, NGO representatives, and government officials from around the world, we will be taking these issues to Rio indeed. And we have to ask – how controversial is a woman’s right to make decisions about her health and childbearing, a right that will improve her life and that of her children, in addition to the health of her community and the sustainability of her planet?

Representatives from the Sierra Club, Advocates for Youth, The Youth Coalition, SustainUS, Population Action International, and the government of Sri Lanka agree that there should be no controversy in ensuring the health and rights of people in every community, especially young people. On June 19th, these groups will be coming together to host a side event highlighting the voices and experiences of youth from around the world in dealing with the intersection of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and sustainable development in their home communities. From Brazil to the Philippines, young leaders recognize that the ability to manage resources, participate in income-generating activities, procure water, stay healthy, and contribute to community decision making are inextricably linked to one’s access to reproductive health services.

Our planet has already hit the 7 billion mark, and the largest-ever generation of young people are worried and wondering what the older generations have been doing. We’re looking for a sustainable space where families, communities and societies can live harmoniously with the environment in a just and sustainable manner. This is not about science and numbers, but about people, their rights and the future of their great-grandchildren.

These young people aren’t the only ones who ‘get it,’ which is why Rio+20 is already shaping up to bring unprecedented attention to gender, women’s rights, and sexual and reproductive health in the context of sustainability. Dr. Carmen Barroso, head of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) Western Hemisphere Region, spoke at an event at the Woodrow Wilson Center shortly before leaving for Brazil, where she emphasized the links between IPPF’s work and that of the conservation, sustainable development, and climate communities. Dr. Barroso sees the inclusion of these themes and connections in Rio to be largely tied to youth involvement, stating that “young people are demanding their place at the table.”

Heads of state from around the world will indeed be dancing in the village square next week, and it’s up to us to judge if they’re dancing well or not. We don’t yet know if the formal negotiations in Rio will take up sexual and reproductive health and rights as they contribute to community development and sustainability. The recent announcement that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – a champion for women’s health and rights – will be leading the US delegation is a positive sign, but does not mean the necessary attention will be given to these important human rights connections. Yet regardless of formal inclusion, the efforts of health, conservation, population, and youth organizations will ensure that SRHR issues are elevated as essential to developing a plan for a more sustainable planet in the future. If they don’t dance well, we will.

Esther Agbarakwe is an international advocacy fellow at Population Action International and Kim Lovell is the Program Director for the Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program. Follow Esther and Kim at @estherclimate and @SCPopEnviro for updates on coverage of SRHR issues at the conference.

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Youth participation is very important in any UN meetings and world conferences especially when the topic is about US youth. During the 6th World Youth Congress, some delegates were not able to make it due to travel funding constraints since it is now covered by the congress organizers due to lack of funding. As most of the delegates that I have talked with said, the cost of coming to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is so expensive that they have to ask money from their parents or shell out from their own savings because even their governments are not supportive of their participation. A fellow Filipino, Biengente Manalo, Jr. sold t-shirts just to raise funds in coming here to Brazil. His story was so inspiring that he was invited to speak in the Opening Ceremony of the youth congress. You’re so inspiring kapatid!

Bien’s success story may not reflect the lot of other delegates…


…when heavens connive with luck, miracles do happen! 

Patrice Renee Harris was one of the fabulous youth congress delegate I have ever met in Sitio das Pedras. Lively and vivacious, Patrice is one of the people that reminds me of my friend O’rain Edwards from Jamaica who rocked Durban with me, Mimi, and Blessing during the COP 17. A teacher by profession, Patrice is the Caribbean Community (CariCom) Ambassador (Alternate) under the Ministry of Youth Empowerment of the Government of St. Christopher and Nevis (or better known alternatively as St. Kitts and Nevis). She is also a Youth Parliamentarian in her country, something that I always missed out in the past two National Youth Parliaments in my country due to unforseen circumstances. Her story of how she was able to make it to the congress is unique and inspiring. After not securing funding back home, she e-mailed Peace Child International, the conference organizers about her predicament and by a stroke luck, she found herself with a plane ticket and was able to fly from Basseterre down to Rio!

Again, Bien and Patrice’s success stories cannot hide the fact that there is lack of participation of young people in global events like what’s happening now in Brazil due to lack of funding and support especially in the case of Small Island Developing States. Most of the time these countries can send at most one or two delegates or no delegate at all. This is disappointing since this is Rio+20, a United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development that addresses issues on sustainability, no youth is present to voice the sentiments back home. And even if there is, they are not part of the Official Government Delegations. Most of them do not have a young person in their delegations. On a positive note, Brazil has four young people in their delegation, something to emulate for those who have non!

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We are looking for an energetic, self-directed, and organized Communications and Special Events Intern. Working closely with the Manager of Communications and PR and the Director of Strategic Communications, the person in this position will assist in implementation and planning to support Advocates for Youth with their summer special events. Through purposeful, authentic, and meaningful projects and tasks, the Communications and Special Events Intern will gain essential professional skills and deepen understanding of strategic growth functions in the non-profit sector.

The Communications and Special Events Intern will be spending a significant amount of time in preparation for events related to the International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) in Washington, D.C. Potential support/project areas include, but not limited to: organizing and managing all logistics for events supporting Advocates for Youth’s initiatives and goals, managing database of event contacts, and identifying media outlets for national events, pitching media.

Requirements Include 

  • Interested in communication, marketing, event planning, non-profits as a career
  • A strong work ethic and can-do attitude
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Strong attention to detail; ability to organize and prioritize work to meet concurrent deadlines
  • Social media skills
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively, both independently and as part of a team
  • Flexibility and resourcefulness
  • A passion for Advocates for Youth’s mission
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office programs, especially Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook

Responsibilities Include 

Coordinating RSVPs for high-level events during the 2012 International AIDS Conference, including volunteers for events around the DC area and attendance for an exclusive nightlife event

Conducting outreach to partner organizations and media to publicize these events

Assisting the Manager of Communications and PR with press cultivation and followup

Supervising on-site logistics at events and working closely with Advocates staff and volunteers to ensure that these programs are a success

Assisting with other Communications Department projects, as assigned

Dates of Employment 

Immediate opening. Position through July 27.

Requirements for Application

Cover letter indicating reasons for interest in an internship

Resume indicating education and employment experience

Contact information for two references, or two written letters of reference

Additional Information

Part-time, paid internship with flexible hours (average18-22 hours/3 days a week, plus event days). Paid hourly, $10/hour.

NOTE: Must be available to work extended hours July 20-23, including weekend events and the evening of Monday, July 23.




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Last week, Michigan’s House of Representatives passed what has been called “the worst anti-abortion bill yet” – one that would criminalize all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, without exceptions for rape victims; put undue restrictions on health centers; and require doctors to ask intrusive, scripted questions about women’s motivation for their abortion.

Representative Lisa Brown objected, saying "I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no."

So Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas banned her from the House floor…for saying the word "vagina" in defense of women’s health.

Attend a protest and reading of the Vagina Monologues TONIGHT on the Michigan Capitol Building steps.

Michigan’s women won’t be silenced when their rights are threatened. Rep. Brown, supportive legislators, and playwright Eve Ensler are staging a reading of the play Vagina Monologues tonight at the Michigan Capitol Building at 5pm.

"Bring signs, bring your vagina, bring your outrage, bring your humor," said Eve Ensler. "Bring your belief that women can have a right to their bodies, have a right to their voices, have a right to determine what happens to their bodies — whether they want children or don’t want children.”

Vagina’s not a dirty word. What’s dirty is the Michigan House’s attempt to suppress women’s rights and silence our voices.

Show your support for women TONIGHT on the Michigan Capitol Building Steps.

Learn more about the bill and join the effort to block attacks on abortion rights from ACLU Michigan

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Over at Advocates’ home page blog we have a "Celebrating Pride" series happening all June. Don’t miss it!

June is LGBT Pride Month: Let’s Celebrate, by Kate Stewart, Advocates’ Executive VP for Public Affairs

…We need to stop and think about how young people internalize our fears and our drive to protect them. Without balancing how we talk and educate about sexual health with messages about pleasure, happiness, fulfillment, we are only painting one very dark and stormy picture. Instead, we should be empowering young people and reminding them to celebrate who they are and who they love.

I don’t have to understand, I just have to support, by Robin Bridges, mother of…me!

I told Emily that my love for her had no qualifiers, especially not her sexuality. I had never said "I love you but only if you’re straight." My daughter is gay and my love for her is endless. End of story.

I’m proud of being gay and I’m proud of you, by Joe Lazzerini, Mr Gay Rhode Island

This month – I am proud that we have a President and Vice President that support marriage equality for same sex couples and that we live in a country that does not deny people of the gay and lesbian community the right to serve their nations in the Armed services or deny members of the LGBTQ community the right to visit their partners in the hospital.

Thankful and proud that my family and friends are so accepting, by Jordan, youth activist from South Carolina

To finally tell the one person person you wanted to tell and have them accept it evoked an amazing feeling of elation. I was über happy…..In all, my coming out experience was a lot better than I expected. I haven’t come out to everyone in my family, but in time I will. I’m just thankful and proud to have such an amazing group of supporting people in my life.

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I am at Rio+20 with Adopt a Negotiator as a Rio+20 fellow. This place is chaotically powerful. I mean there are so many things which are happening parallelly that it is difficult to keep a track and give an overview. People believe that the number of issues which are there on the tables along with the number of places these are being individually discussed dilutes the essence of Rio+20.

There are people who discuss these articles and sections as if they have been reciting these from their childhood while I feel pretty lost in this thick jungle of more than 50,000 people who have gathered for this conference. I sometimes wish that I had clones such that a few of them would sit simultaneously in some of the negotiation rooms where topics of my interest like gender, climate change and green economy were being discussed while one clone would be dedicated to researching at a reference library.

The negotiations are as unpredictable as the weather in Rio. On a morning when you see the sun shining bright, you decide to give the umbrella a miss only to realise when you reach Rio Centro that it has started drizzling. Similarly, just when you think that the negotiated text can’t go weaker than this, everything changes, new clauses are introduced.

Oh! a quick primer for everyone who does not know what the UN lingo with regard to the negotiations could mean: retain means to keep text, delete means to remove the text that is bracketted and reserve means that to be decided later. Generally, the people occupying the floor for speaking out aloud and making a stand are US, Canada, EU (all European Union countries negotiate as a bloc (I haven´t seen them disagreepublically on the negotiating tables though they do chime in individually fro time to time), Switerland, G77 (the largest Third World coalition provides the developing world to enhance its joint negotiating capacity on all major international issues) and the Holy See (the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome).

At the informal sessions of the negotiations which took plce between the 13-15th June, 2012 Holy See managed to kick quite a storm so much so that people questioned their participatory Rights if not aloud then at least in their minds. While I questioned the G77 (negotiated by Indonesia) stand specially as the block does not always have a consensus position on the text. Where were the voices from countries like India when people on the negotiatig table supported every ammendment proposed by the Holy See and in addition proposed the deletion of the following language in the Health Section:

• Delete "full" implementation of ICPD (International Conference on Popultion Development) and Beijing.
• Delete human rights of women and add men and children because women are not a specific category.
• Right of adolescents to decide freely and responsibly on matters relating to their sexuality (delete adolescents, replace with youth, delete sexuality, keep Sexual Reproductive Health).
• The Holy See stated that the CPD Outcome Document was not the reflection of international consensus but "only a commission of the UN".

I have to question the Indian stand because we are the second most populated country in the world. We have been rated worst country in G20 to be a woman and yet we let such text crop up at the International negotiating tables? Do governments like playing games with us by shaking us up through such debacles and test our tenacity or do they just do not want to move on instead of backwards in terms of International stands? Don´t the governmental reps understand that it is their duty towards us, the citizens of their countries to get productive results from such gatherings such that a tax payers money is not spent supporting them wastefully in such expensive places?

Thank goodness for the engagement of civil society. It seems that they did a good job of lobbying and persuaded the G77  to not support the Vatican’s stand on sexual reproductive health. SRH might seem like a unimportant topic for this conference, with its focus on all kinds of issues related to the environment, economics and social development, but it isn’t. Maria de Bruyn of Ipas is of the view, “When women and young people are able to better control their reproductive health and have autonomous decision-making about their sexual and reproductive lives, they are also in a better position to take advantage of opportunities offered by a green economy and to deal with environmental challenges” and it seems that view is supported by many studies done by Population Action International.

The policy lingo for anyone who would like to check what the stands made were at the negotiating table such that text could be given to the Brazillian government for collation such that it could be discussed at the High Level government representative meeting next week:

Gender 7 was ‘agreed ad ref’ today and the Health 8 (Health and population) had a new language referenced from ECOSOC 2009 para 16, proposed by G77. The new text was adopted by all delegation while the Holy See registered their deep reservation.

Gender 7 is something we will discuss another time specially because it talks abt gender mainstreaming in accordance with the national legislation and policies >think about countries where there are no gender policies(!!)< but other than that it is good to see that if we haven’t moved ahead on the path of development, at least we have been able to (somewhat) remain at the same place that we have earned over the past 20 years or more (!!) during the Prep Meeting of Rio+20.

Roli is a Rio+20 fellow with
Adopt a Negotiator. She can be followed at @scholarfreak on Twitter.

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Meet Jermaine Case, one of the volunteers and Council Member for Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network or the JYAN. And oh, he’s a lawyer according to Mimi which makes him cool!

The JYAN is an initiative of the USAID funded JA-STYLE Project. JYAN is designed to develop youth leaders in the areas of advocacy, public education and capacity building in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, violence prevention, care and protection (including persons with disabilities), employment and entrepreneurship, education and training.

JYAN seeks to be the voice of youth promoting participation and demanding positive change in Jamaica across the Caribbean.

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Eleven year old Kameron Slade from PS 195 in Queens, New York won his class’s speech-writing competition, earning him a spot to participate in the school-wide contest. When his principal discovered that Kameron planned to talk about marriage equality, however, he pulled Kameron from the competition, saying he could only participate if he spoke on a topic that wasn‘t so “inappropriate.”

In an interview with NY1 News, Kameron and his mother expressed their disappointment in the principal’s decision.

"For him to be denied the right to voice his opinion really upsets me," she said.

"I was really looking forward to it," Kameron said. "I thought that this was a real good winning speech for tomorrow."

Kameron wrote an amazing speech, and I am so proud of him for wanting to share it with his classmates. New York, remember, is a state where marriage is legal for same-sex couples. Young people’s ability to speak freely on issues of fairness and equality is vital not only to our collective future, but to their ability to form and articulate educated opinions.

Kameron Slade is definitely my new favorite fifth grader. Watch his speech, and I think you’ll be as impressed and touched as I am.

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown spoke these words during her speech in the House’s debate over their far-reaching, life-threatening, abortion ban.

The result- The Republican Speaker banned her indefinitely from speaking on the House floor.

This makes it rather difficult for her to act on behalf of her constituents, don’t you think? Apparently a woman saying “vagina” in public is so offensive that she was officially, and indefinitely, silenced. Now her constituents, as well as the women living outside of her district, have lost a legislative voice. Congresspeople are elected to represent the public. The action of the Speaker has not only silenced Rep. Brown, but also all of the people who she is there to speak for.

Paraphrasing Erin Gloria Ryan of Jezebel, vagina is the new Voldemort.

Use your voice to tell legislative leadership in Michigan that you support women’s health, and aren’t afraid to say it!

~ Samantha
Community Editor

Categories: Abortion, Uncategorized
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On Wednesday, Michigan’s House of Representatives passed the extreme anti-abortion bill that Meghan posted about.

If it makes it through the Senate and governor and becomes law, this bill will effectively shut down all abortion clinics by requiring them to make expensive renovations even if they don’t perform surgical abortions.

It will force women like Jenni Lane to carry a pregnancy to term even when the fetus cannot survive.

It will force doctors to interrogate women with scripted questions about their decision.

It will profoundly limit access to abortion for Michigan’s women.

The Michigan House was unmoved by hundreds of protestors and by women’s testimony, closing the time for witnesses while many were waiting to speak and barely listening to those who did speak.

That is, they were unmoved until someone said the word vagina; then, they threw that person right out – even though she was their fellow representative.

And most alarming about the Michigan bill is that it’s intended as model legislature:  we can expect to see this level of disregard for women’s rights and needs in legislatures throughout the nation in the upcoming year, even as we are still reeling from the hundreds of bills proposed this year.

With this assault on health and autonomy, Michigan’s representatives have shown their contempt for women.  There’s still a chance to defeat the bill in the Senate; activists must watch this bill closely and be prepared for similar attacks on abortion rights in their own states.

Categories: Abortion, Uncategorized
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Via ThinkProgress:

BREAKING: Obama To Stop Deporting DREAM-Eligible Youth, Protecting 1 Million Undocumented Students

President Obama will announce a new immigration policy this morning that will allow some undocumented students to avoid deportation and receive work authorization.

Under the president’s “deferred action” executive order, students in the U.S. who are already in deportation proceedings or those who qualify for the DREAM Act and have yet to come forward to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials, will not be deported and will be allowed to work in the United States.

An estimated 1 million young people could benefit from the deferral. To be eligible, applicants have to be between 15 and 30 years old, live in the U.S. for five years, and maintain continuous U.S. residency. People who have one felony, one serious misdemeanor, or three minor misdemeanors will be ineligible to apply. “Deferred action” will last for two years and can be renewed.

Advocates for Youth advocated for the DREAM Act, recognizing that risk of deportation negatively impacts young people’s sexual health and rights.  We applaud the President for taking the step of creating a pathway to citizenship for almost 1 million young people. 

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This week, the  New England Journal of Medicine published a study in which hormonal contraception was found to be linked to stroke and heart attack.  Contraceptive options with higher doses of ethynyl estradiol, the estrogen compound found in most hormonal birth control, had higher risk of stroke and heart attack.  However, at the same time the NEJM published an editorial that stressed that overall, risks were still VERY low, especially compared to the risks of unintended pregnancy. 

Said the editorial’s author:  “The amount of attention paid to these minuscule risks, and what are likely to be very small differences in vascular risk, detracts attention from more salient issues, like preventing unwanted pregnancy.” 

Currently, the CDC classifies all hormonal methods as either “no restriction for the use of this method” or “the benefits of this method outweigh the risks.”  For the majority of women this study is unlikely to change that, though women with high blood pressure are urged to avoid hormonal birth control.

Hormonal birth control remains a highly effective way for sexually active women, including young women, to prevent unintended pregnancy.


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 young people in Bamenda -Cameroon recently had a two day training on Behavior change   initiated by one of the volunteers of Youth Outreach Programme Cameroon:  Eric Mbotiji and was funded by the Waisenkinderhilfe  NGO based in Frankfurt Germany in collaboration with Youth Outreach Program Cameroon(YOP).

The main objective of this training was to empower 15 young people (aged 15-24) with skills needed to make informed decisions which will enable them to adopt positive behaviors and live healthily lives.

The training topics included amongst others Life skills (Bridge Model), Types of life skills, communication, Body language,
assertiveness, emotional management, decision making, goals setting, role modelling, identification of risky behaviour towards HIV/AIDS and delaying sex. Trainers included Nansing Jimai, Jonas Heckelei, Agwenjang Patience and Eric Mbotiji.

An important training area was communication skills. Areas explored included the methods of communication, elements of effective communication, body language and assertiveness and overcomming barries of communication. In this session various case scenarios were used to illustrate forms of communication to the youth.

In this training, 15 youths gained self-development skills that enabled them to make informed decisions about their sexuality, be able to negotiate safe sex, set attainable goals, and their relationships and emotion. Most important was the fact that they developed strategies to address sexual harassment in schools and in their communities.

Eric Mbotiji
youth journalist from Cameroon

Categories: HIV, Uncategorized
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 Cameroon with an HIV prevalence of 5.1% amongst the general population is one of the 22 countries with the highest HIV prevalence in the World. The young people aged 15and above, constitute about 46% of all new infections and the young women are at the highest risk of infection among their peers. Young women aged 15-24 years are 2.5 times as likely to be infected with HIV as compared to their male peers.
Factors Driving the Epidemic amongst Young People

• Early sexual debut: In Cameroon the average age of first sexual intercourse is 14 years.
• Multiple and concurrent sexual partners.
• Low level of consistent condom use.
• Challenges in changing sexual behaviour.
• Cross generational sex.
• Transactional sex.
• Sexual transmissible marks.
• Peer Pressure.
• Sponsoring.
• Poverty.
• Incest and rape.
• Unemployment.
• Prostitution.
• Migration and mobility.

High Risk Groups
• Vulnerable children (Orphans, Street Children, hawkers, House helps, child trafficking………)
• Call box service providers
• Uniform Officers
• Distant truck drivers
• Adolescent Sex Workers
• Bike Riders
• Students.
Impact of HIV Campaigns
Cameroon has just begun the implementation of its 3rd National strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS for 2011-2015.

National prevention strategy for youths and Adolescent for HIV prevention is to support sexual and reproductive health education in youth centres to reach out-of-school youth; through health clubs, to reach youths in school; youth focused HIV testing campaigns organized during specific events and festivities such as the International Day of the child, Youth days, Holiday Free of AIDS Campaigns, the National Week/International AIDS Days and the like. These are aimed at enhancing the participation of young people as well as promoting income generating activities for out-of-school youth.

The campaigns have contributed to behaviour changes, as more and more young people are going in for HIV testing to know their status during HIV campaigns. Among the 123,504 young people mobilized for HIV prevention by the youths in 2011, over 10,880 of them went in for the HIV test and knew their HIV status.

Compiled By Eric Mbotiji

Youth Blogger from Cameroon

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 When i returned from a training workshop which took place in Nairobi –Kenya from the 5th to
the 9th of January 2012 christened “SHUGA RADIO Training” organized by UNICEF in
GENERATION Kenya, had as objectives to create HIV awareness across Africa and enable
participants to use the Media to mitigate the spread of HIV.

As a youth activist in Cameroon who is concerned about reproductive health issues, I met an
 American peace Corps Volunteer; Kelly Bojan in Bamenda and we had a discussion about
youth reproductive health issues and HIV/AIDS in our city. In the course of our discussion, I
told her about an observation which I had made concerning how people who don’t know
each other, get into township taxis and start talking about any interesting topic. Two days
later we met and she proposed an idea to me about producing short stickers containing
basic information on HIV/AIDS and pasting them in Taxis. After our discussions, she
contacted the American Peace Corps office in Bamenda and an organization called Health
Development Consultancy Services which gave some financial resources to produce the stickers.

In the city of Bamenda in Cameroon, 50 taxi drivers were trained as peer educators for two
days about HIV Prevention. Thereafter, drivers were given these stickers to paste In their
taxis and Kelly and I took upon ourselves and started entering taxis around the city at
random, just to past the stickers in other taxis as well as some private cars.

These stickers were pasted inside the taxis, in front and behind andthey were beautifully
designed in such a way that people who entered into taxis could easily notice it. The
objective of this exercise was to enable people entering taxis to look at it which will spark up
a discussion in the Taxi about HIV and enable people to talk about it very openly. From the
taxi, the discussions will be taken to homes which are the basic unit of every society.
Having a long conversation with a friend or people we meet everyday about HIV/AIDS, will
effectively work to reduce the stigma which people attached to persons living with HIV/AIDS,
and the stigma will drastically reduce.

These stickers carried basic information about HIV/AIDS in very easy and simple language,
understandable by all. Five different stickers we produced and had the following basic
information on them:

-Ways to prevent HIV
-Things to do if you are HIV+
-HIV Transmission
-Why Women are more exposed to HIV than men
-HIV Contraction.

This exercise was very successful in the city of Bamenda as almost all taxis carried these
stickers which we had pasted in them.

I believe that we can also reduce HIV/AIDS in our communities by talking about it.

Eric Mbotiji

Youth Blogger  from Cameroon

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Tania Kurbatoff is a young person from Christchurch, New Zealand. A fashion designer by profession but a youth advocate by passion, she founded The Porcelain Institute, which specialises in developing creative approaches to rebuilding and transforming cities and communities after conflict and disaster. Her work with young people brought her into the center of disaster risk reduction after her city was devastated by a strong earthquake in 2011 and in helping North Korean Refugees cope up with their newly-found life in South Korea through arts as a form of "expressing oppression, one exploring freedom, and a self portrait based on (Pablo) Picasso’s model."

Above: Artworks made by some of the young participants that attended in one of Tania’s art workshop.

During the 6th World Youth Congress that was held in Sitio das Pedras in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tania facilitated a workshop entitled "Communicating through Art: Designing a Pathway to Sustainable Development". As a self-confessed "no-arts skills", the workshop took me on a journey to design and express my vision for sustainbale development and allows me to take part of creating a collective art work in what she called as "The WYC 2012 Pathway to Sustainable Development". I already had a vision of the future I want to experience. What I draw was unexpected. It might not be a work of art in the strictest sense but I am happy to just express my thoughts and translate it into artwork!

Below: One of her masterpiece dress made out of the participants’ artworks in one of her many workshops she facilitated.

Categories: Uncategorized
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WYC is a biennial gathering of young activists from all over the world who are focused on expanding the role of youth in sustainable development.

The Virtual World Youth Congress is its online version.

The World Youth Congress series was born in 1997 following the frustrations of the Rio+5 Earth Summit conference which highlighted the fact that, far from increasing as the original Rio 1992 Earth Summit had proposed, Overseas Development Aid had, in fact dropped by 17% since 1992.

So the 1st World Youth Congress was conceived as a kind of Young People’s Earth Summit. However by the time it was finally held, in Hawaii in October 1999, it had developed into a much broader process of identifying priorities for the new Millennium. Entitled, the Millennium Young People’s Congress.

It got millions of young people around the world to identify ten key priorities for the new millennium and it turned out that eight of these closely mirrored the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, agreed a year later at the UN Millennium Summit.

The 1st youth congress showed that young people wanted to be active in pursuit of these goals: they did not want to wait around for governments or others to do development for them: rather they wanted to get involved in doing development themselves.

So that 1st Congress coined the term Youth-led Sustainable Development, and launched Peace Child International’s (PCI) Be the Change! Youth-led programme – both of which have become central to the World Youth Congress Series.

Subsequent Congresses – in Morocco in 2003, Scotland in 2005, Quebec City, Canada in 2008 and Istanbul, Turkey in 2010 – have all discussed one main question:

“What is the most effective role that youth can play in development?”

Answers have included: peer-to-peer training, HIV-AIDS awareness raising, youth-led business startups; environmental awareness, protection and conservation; human rights policing; peacebuilding – and many, many other things: given a chance, the right training and investment, young people can contribute almost anything to the effort to eradicate poverty completely from our world.

Each Congress is unique: hosts are encouraged to stamp the identity and culture of their country on their congress and make it their own. But each has similar distinguishing features that give the World Youth Congress Series its own unique feel:
• The Congress is youth-run: Youth who work for both PCI and the local host group form the central part of decision-making on everything from the content of the programme, selection of the delegates, staffing of the Congress, to the choice of speakers at the plenaries and workshops.

• Action: A key part of every congress is Local Action Projects – where all delegates travel away from the Congress site and work with local people to build facilities, do an environmental clean-up or assist in some social programme. The time away from talking and being engaged in community action is where delegates and hosts bond. Action has defined the World Youth Congress Series.

• Actions Before and After the Congress: Just as delegates are urged to complete projects and experiments before the congress so that they have experiences to share with other delegates, so all delegates are expected to return and take actions using the knowledge they have gained. A key aspect this year, is creating action in the run up to Rio+20, so that us youth can show the UN and world governments that we are taking action and our prepared for a green economy. PCI also generates grants for 15-20 “Post-Congress Action projects” developed by delegates, that show real potential of creating positive community change.

• A strong cultural/arts programme: Peace Child International takes its name from the musical, Peace Child, which promotes solutions to global problems. Therefore, PCI seeks to promote all forms of communication to promote youth messages in the most powerful possible way. So bring your instruments, bring your dance, films, painting, poetry or stand-up comedy skills and be prepared to share them in the Congress Talent Shows and arts evenings.

• A friendly and cooperative environment generated by its young hosts and organisers: – where young people and experienced sustainability experts can meet on equal terms in informal round table discussions so that each can learn from each other. We’ve seen some of the best ideas come from informal discussions, the sharing of experiences, stories and inspirations of young activists working in their own communities.

Source: http://wycrio2012.org/en/sobre/congresso-mundial-de-juventude-2/

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by Bianca Laureano

This is not so much an article about the future of abortion, but rather how abortions are presented to us today in films that are set in “the future.” As someone who remembers very well a time when there were no cell phones or internet, for me, I am already living in “the future.” However, I just saw the film Prometheus and there was a scene about pregnancy and abortion (spoilers ahead!).

I’m not going to give a long synopsis of the film Prometheus, I saw it for the old school sci-fi films reference and the cast (ok really just for Idris Elba). As a result I knew there would be a ton of things about the film I would not enjoy, or that would be predictable (which I also don’t enjoy much about films). Briefly, the film takes place in 2093, a group of scientists, engineers, wealthy folks are following/looking for “our creators” as in the folks who came before us in another part of the universe. They are frozen for two years, traveling through other galaxies, and have all this super advanced type of technology.

Alas, the two folks who think they are leading the “exploration” are partners. Since sex does exist in the future, after being awakened as they are approaching their destination, they want and choose to engage in consensual sex. Now, we are told that the woman in the film is infertile and this is something that makes her sad, after all the irony of it: they are looking for their makers but she cannot procreate. Long story short, her partner gets infected with some foreign stuff and because it’s super-alien-fast-growing-magic-stuff, he impregnates his partner. He then dies because of this infection.

When his partner, who is a doctor, realizes she’s pregnant with something alien she “wants it out of her.” Now, this was a surprise for me. After all, this is a character who is all about this mission and learning more about origins, etc. that I thought she’s be down for sacrificing her body and life to learn more about this substance and what it can create (but that’s only ok when it’s other folks sacrificing their lives for her). So when she said she didn’t want to be pregnant I thought “this will be an interesting storyline.” Alas, it was. But it was also a terrible one.

In short, abortions in the future are non-existent. The word is not even used. When the doctor finds out she’s pregnant and wants “it out of her” as it was only 10 hours she had sex but her pregnancy looks like it is 12 weeks, she is told the super expensive ($3 trillion) mission does not have the equipment for such a procedure. Then she runs to a super futuristic pod that can provide any type of surgical procedures, including bypass surgery. All you have to do is put in what procedure you desire and get yourself into the pod and the machine does the work.

When she gets to this pod and has to put in her procedure, she says she needs a c-section. Now, many folks may know that a c-section is a hardcore surgical procedure that is complicated and very different from abortion procedures. However, in the future that does not exist either. This is because the machine was designed only for men. Yes, you read that correctly, science, technology, and medicine are still centered on men. Now, I have to say this was probably the most realistic part of this storyline because that I can definitely believe. After all the $3 trillion for this mission was provided by an older white man and the wealth of women were limited to their knowledge, which was questioned often.

Now, this omission of abortion in science fiction is not completely new. There are a lot of omissions about reproductive health, care and justice that has been excluded when people imagine or reimagine a future. What is ironic is how these experiences are erased, or assumed not to be an issue that impacts folks. Especially since the future is dependent on some form of procreation and evolution. But more importantly because abortions and other reproductive needs have been around since before modernization.

Perhaps this is a sign of what happens when women are not creating or a part of imaging a future for themselves? Maybe this happens because folks don’t want to talk about menstruation and what that represents, even in the future. Or it could be a odd sense of “privacy” folks don’t think we need to discuss or that women viewers may assume as they watch? Perhaps it’s an outcome of pleasing folks who are funding the project?

I’m not completely shocked by this omission. After all, Prometheus is a Fox Searchlight film, and Fox is owned by a extremely conservative wealthy white man. This is part of media literacy, knowing and recognizing how media is created, has embedded values, and is created for profit. It’s clear the values of certain folks are incorporated into many of the forms of media we are exposed to on a regular basis.

If you saw the film, what were your perspectives? Did you too see something odd about this storyline?

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Not only have i been denied proper health care but also haven’t recieved any sacriments fr any of the local preist. I don’t understand why after many phone calls they still refuse to see me. If you have any advise on this please call me or write me. Again my number is 58 227 3681 and my address is 27 pulaski st, amstersdam, N.Y. 12010

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Advocates for Youth is looking for enthusiastic writers and content creators ages 16-24 to be featured contributors to Amplify, the online community for young people interested in the reproductive and sexual health and rights movement. You will:

1) Beginning in August 2012, work with Amplify staff mentors to develop writing and new media skills and contacts.
2) Have your work spotlighted on www.amplifyyourvoice.org.
3) Receive a monthly stipend of $125.

Applicants should have a strong interest in reproductive and sexual health and rights; be good writers or content creators; and have an interest in current events, media commentary, popular culture, and/or blogs and blogging. We are interested in inexperienced/unpublished correspondents as well as those with an existing background in blogging, journalism, or video blogging.

Your responsibilities will include:

1) Working with Amplify staff, you will develop, create, and revise two features per month to be featured on Amplify

2) You will also post a minimum of ten brief/informal posts per month: quick commentary on the news, other great blog posts you have seen, or reposting relevant infographics, pictures, and video.

3) You’ll share Amplify content on social media each month (or work with staff to develop a social media presence if you don’t have one); participate in the Amplify community by commenting on others’ work; and try out new features/functionality on the Amplify website.

To apply, please submit the following via email to emily@advocatesforyouth.org:

1) An email that describes your background (coursework, experience, or interest in journalism, writing/blogging, or activism) and why you are interested in the position.

2) A writing sample – can be a blog or journalism piece you have had published elsewhere, or submit an a 300-400 word or 2 minute video piece on a topic related to the Amplify issue areas listed above.

3) Please include your full name, geographic location, and age.

Youth from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.  Please apply by June 30, 2012.

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On May 15th, Melissa Sue Robinson won the Democratic Primary for Idaho’s State Senate from Canyon County- District 12. This made her the first transgender person to win a Primary Election in the United States. What makes her win even more impressive is that her district is in the most conservative county in Idaho. She may have an uphill campaign ahead of her for November, but she is definitely a politician we’ll want to watch.

The following is an interview I did with Ms. Robinson by e-mail over this past weekend.

1) Many transgender people struggle with discrimination and transphobia. Studies over the years have shown us that LGBT students have faced harassment and violence at alarming levels. These realities leave many transgender people at a social and economic disadvantage that is largely institutional- and legal. What has your process of personal empowerment been like, that has allowed you to overcome the sense of disenfranchisement often felt by transgender people?

Well I personally didn’t let it destroy my confidence, and I continued to deal with people in the same way as I had before my GRS surgery. I formed a 501C3 at the time known as The National Association for the Advancement of Trans gendered People, held marches for anti-discrimination in Lansing, MI. known as the Nikki Nicholas March for Change, ran for several political offices in order to get my new name out, and was instrumental in helping to get anti-discrimination laws and ordinances in both Michigan and Lansing, MI. I also promoted transgender people on Oprah in 2005, on German TV in 2003, and in several other media outlets.

2) Over the past few years, several transgender people have been elected to public office. What does this mean to you personally?

Well it means that we are making progress and my dream of giving back through politics is now a possibility.

3) Do you identify as liberal? As progressive? Conservative? How do you describe your political or social perspective?

I am liberal on some issues, conservative on some fiscal issues, and progressive on most issues. I believe that anyone should be able to marry and share it’s benefits. I believe that abortion should be a last resort, but should be a woman’s choice, and I believe in the constitution. I think that society should provide services such as healthcare and housing to those that cannot afford it or are unable to work. I believe that medical marijuana should be legal and farmers should be allowed to grow hemp. Harsh laws against soft drugs like marijuana should be repealed so that we can free up our criminal justice system and resources to concentrate on felonies such as murder, rape, and robbery.

4) What has your campaign experience been like? What issues do you find that voters are most concerned about?

My campaign experience has been way more favorable than I expected in conservative Canyon County, Voters are mainly interested in job creation and a good education for their children, followed by family values. They want gang free, safe cities, and a good transportation system going from Caldwell to Boise. I was a job creator as I owned a 25 employee business in Michigan for over 25 years and hired many employees. I was also one of the first people to recommend a bus rapid transit district instead of light rail going down the I-84 corridor from Caldwell to Mountain Home (because of the cost of light rail). I was the first person to call for a state owned bank to help those that can’t get loans from conventional banks in order to fund small businesses and mortgages (or to bail out business during recessions). See article by Dan Pokey in 2010 when I ran for the state legislature by Goggling Melissa Sue Robinson State Banks. I started talking about health care reform in 2004 when I ran for the Michigan legislature.

5) Part of your platform involves replacing the “Students Come First Luna Laws” in order to “promote quality education.” Can you explain why and how this initiative has failed students, and what you would propose to guarantee that all students, regardless of socio-economic status, are given a valuable education?

Well let’s take Melba for example: they replaced a popular, good history teacher with online history classes when he retired. Also good teachers from other states will not (and I guarantee) will not, even consider Idaho as a place of employment. Would you go to a state that doesn’t allow collective bargaining for your profession? I think not. Therefore we will not only lose, but will not gain any good educators in Idaho and that will trickle up to the college and University level. Talk about going last in education Idaho is sure heading there. It’s like they are trying to dumb down Idaho Citizens on purpose. It’s not just in Idaho as Mitt Romney also wants to do that. Without good teachers we will have a hard time instilling morals, ethics, and other needed things that shape our children into model citizens, and responsible adults. The Parents can’t do it all and don’t have time in today’s two parents working society. Our children can only be taught to be spokes in the wheel (instead of holes in the doughnut) by good, quality, teachers. I would lead a fight to eliminate Idaho’s so called "Right to work"-"Right to Fire" laws as a start. I would also help out and promote any campaigns to repeal Luna Laws. My vote as Senator would always be "Yes" on repeal.

6) You also promise to fight for gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation to be included in the Idaho Human Rights Law. As such a proposal has never been read before the House or Senate, could you describe your strategies for gaining support?

The first and only way to gain support for that legislation is through education. Republican politicians don’t believe that those laws are needed so they have to be shown by examples from around Idaho and the entire world. I know how to sell as I have been doing that my entire life so I would proceed to sell them on the advantages of such a law (including landing corporations that believe in anti discrimination to create jobs in this state). I have worked for three corporations that have anti-discrimination policies in their corporate bi-laws for LGBT people such as: Century Link/Qwest Communications Corp., SBC/AT&T Communications, and Pinkerton Automotive div. at General Motors Corp.

7) Have you or do you plan to reach out to young voters, considering their higher level of acceptance of the LGBT community?

I not only have reached out to young voters and tried to educate them on LGBT issues in the past, but I have also used them in my campaigns. I relate very well with other generations both young and older than myself generations.

8) The activities of Republican-led state legislatures across the country, especially since the 2010 election, have been radical and extreme. The Idaho Senate is currently 75% Republican. Recent activity has included: rejecting an anti-discrimination law, supporting anti-abortion legislation, rejecting the necessity of accessible contraception, and proposing the legal (and un-taxable) use of gold and silver coins as an alternative to paper money. You are running in “the most conservative Republican county” in the state. Do you feel confident campaigning as a Democrat in such a conservative area?

I not only have reached out to young voters and tried to educate them on LGBT issues in the past, but I have also used them in my campaigns. I relate very well with other generations both young and older than myself generations.


~ Samantha
Community Editor

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Below is an excerpt of a Center for American Progress interview with Urooj Arshad, the associate director of Equity and Social Justice at Advocates for Youth and the manager of the Muslim Youth Project.  Read the full interview here

Sally Steenland: Urooj, you work on reproductive and sexual health issues with young American Muslims. What are some pressing issues these young people face?

Urooj Arshad: Many young people have felt stigmatized talking about sexual health, and there are not a lot of resources for them. Advocates for Youth is a national organization, and we decided it was a priority for us to work with the community. Our Muslim Youth Project seeks to build the capacity of organizations working on reproductive and sexual health issues with American Muslim youth.

It actually came out of a trip I took to Germany, meeting with a coalition of folks coming from all over Europe to talk about multiculturalism and sexual health education. A lot of the meeting was focused on immigrants and Muslim youth, but there was a distinct lack of Muslim representation. I felt that addressing this gap could be a model—not only in the United States but also for people doing this work in other places where there are large Muslim communities but due to lack of representation and resources, reproductive and sexual health are not addressed.

The big challenges American Muslim communities face are silence and stigma. Issues around reproductive and sexual health are either not talked about or not talked about in a way that is healthy. Silence and stigma can lead to negative health outcomes for young people, especially as they negotiate their lives here. All the information they receive from school and other sources can pose a dilemma as to what they’re supposed to be doing.

There is also a lack of cultural competence from mainstream providers. It could be community-based organizations. It could be schools. If you are a provider that’s worked predominantly in the Muslim community, you might not be able to address reproductive or sexual health issues. Or if you are a provider in the reproductive and sexual health community, you might not know how to address issues Muslim young people are facing. Because of this, what can happen in the American Muslim youth community can be quite dire.

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In a rural community in the North West Region of Cameroon, many youths are highly sexually active and the rate of HIV prevalence is very alarming. In this rural community, teenage love relationships are defined and expressed by having sex. In this case, the demand for condoms is very high but it is a great taboo for young people to have sex or bear children before marriage, as the customs and traditions demands. One time, it happened that condoms completely ran out of supply and these youngsters who could not cope without sex and did not want to be caught up in the traps of tradition, soughed for a different way of protection for the moment, while waiting for the supply of condoms.
Nearly every boy-girl relationship is based on sex as a means of expressing love, and these youths find it more like a way of life.
At the finish of these condoms young people turned to plastic papers as a substitute for condoms to enjoy themselves. This is very funny but interesting because, it’s clear that youths are aware of HIV and will go an extra mile to protect themselves in the absence of condoms. Wow, I thought young people were just crazy about making love where ever and whenever their emotions arises, but it appears they are also conscious of their health and cherish their lives. This is a clear indication that they don’t want to loose their lives to HIV and will do anything to protect themselves with or without condoms.
The news of youths substituting condoms for plastics came to the lamplight when the users started complaining about the inconvenience of these plastics and how it is very discomforting.
At this point in time they have to continue with their activities while waiting for condoms to be supplied to their community.

By Eric Mbotiji,
Youth Blogger from Cameroon.

Categories: Condoms, HIV, Uncategorized
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In the news this week has been a study which has been getting lots of media coverage.  You may have seen headlines like ABC’s “Study: Kids of Parents in Same-sex Relationships Fare Worse as Adults.”  The study looked at adult children whose parents had been in a same-sex relationship at some point in their lives, and found that these adults experience more of certain negative outcomes, like anxiety, depression, and unemployment.

A few important facts:


  1. The study asked about same-sex behavior, not orientation, so a person with a heterosexual-identified parent who had briefly had a same-sex partner qualified for the study.
  2. The study examined current adults ages 18-39, who would have been growing up in, at the latest, the 1990s, and at the earliest, the 1970s.
  3. The study was funded by the conservative think tank Witherspoon Institute, which opposes same-sex marriage.


In an article on Slate, the study’s author claimed that the study did a better job of representing the reality of gay parenting than previous studies which found better outcomes for children.  But does it?    Check out William Saletan’s discussion of the study sample:  so-called “broken” families were included in the sample of LGBT families but excluded from the “biological family” category.  Regardless of your feelings about marriage’s importance to society, that doesn’t seem like a fair comparison.  Plus, as one researcher observed:

"To determine whether a parental same-sex relationship affects a child’s outcome, it is critical to know the length of these relationships, and whether the same-sex partners were actually living with, and parenting, the child for any length of time. The study does not assess this.”

Or, as the New York Times notes:

“…the research was rigorous, providing some of the best data yet comparing outcomes for adult children with a gay parent with those with heterosexual parents. But they also said the findings were not particularly relevant to the current debate over gay marriage or gay parenting.”

That is, an unhappy person whose daddy had a boyfriend in the 80s doesn’t really compare to children in today’s LGBT families.  It’s unfortunate on the researcher’s part, and irresponsible on much of the media’s part, to pretend that this study has some insight into today’s LGBT families.

The children of today’s LGBT parents are growing up in a time of far more acceptance and “outness.”  Their parents have more financial and legal supports, especially in states where same-sex marriage is legal.  Their parents’ experiences are less associated with secrecy and shame.  They are proud, and diverse, families.

And that’s one interesting takeaway from the study  – its findings on diversity.  The study found that children who had experienced same-sex parental relationships were not more likely to live in “gayer” geographical areas but live all over the country; Georgia was the state with the most same-sex couple parents, while many lived in the midwest.  That’s a good reminder that LGBT families are everywhere.  We need to respect and support them, not use misleading headlines and flawed science to push a conservative religious agenda.

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I’m Mary katherine Szasz. 49 years ole and diagnoses with advanced Multipule Sclrosis. Home bound and with very little company, I;  m finding that as i reach out to various goverment agencies, they are unwilling to provide me with the care that i need to remain home and maintain my freedon and dignity  during this final stage in my life. I already been fired wrongfully when first diagnosised with this disease and now this. Please call me, email me, call these agencies on my behalf to help me out.  my number is 518 2273681 or if you would like to write to me my address is 27 Pulaski st Amsterdam N.Y. 12010  Please hear my cry for help.  God Bless you all

Categories: Uncategorized
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I am not, by no means promoting sex. When I first thought about it, it felt a little weird to actually have people coming over to my house asking for condoms. This weird feeling was accompanied with a tinge apprehension because I was afraid of what my parents and family would think about me. Fortunately, while my Dad did not like the idea of our house turning into a condom dispensary, I had the full support of my Mom who eventually convinced Dad that what I was doing was actually a good and thoughtful thing. What’s even cooler is that now I’ve had people volunteer themselves as distribution agents. One of my friends gives out condoms to the men in a football team and he is constantly coming back for more condoms because more men who are not part of the team want to use condoms now. I really like the idea of condoms getting into style! 

Of course, the fact that more people are using condoms does not mean that they know how to use it correctly. As a matter of fact, many people have not even used a condom before. I first started getting requests for condoms after our first training session with a group of young people who were very much interested in learning about sexual and reproductive health. The objective of the trainings is to educate out-of-school youth in order to promote safe-sex practices and as a result halt the spread of HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s). I feel that these trainings are actually having the kind of behavioral change that we wanted to happen among young people. What’s more is that even women who are mothers and want to delay their next child are asking for condoms. This is great news especially since Progresso is a rural community where access to SRH information and services is not readily available. I have already committed myself to make these condoms available to whoever needs them. Of course, availability of condoms comes with the proper and correct information. Educating young people and people in general about the importance of engaging in safe-sex practices and the proper way in which condoms and other contraceptive methods work is very crucial in the dissemination process.

As we continue educating young people on the different ways that they can protect themselves from either HIV/AIDS, STI’s or an unwanted pregnancy, we hope that whatever knowledge we impart in them is put into practice and that the information be disseminated especially to those who need the most.

Categories: Condoms, HIV, Uncategorized
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 Long time ago, jewelry was ordered either through trade shows, or through phone calls and the simplest was through visiting a retailer where you can pick what you need form what is on display or from a catalogue. And to go on a marketing campaign to sell your products would cost a lot of money that was usually overloaded on the customer price. But as time went by, and with the modern marketing techniques, several methods of advertising and purchasing surfaced. Some of them are aimed at reducing the price for the end customer, like wholesalers and some are with the simplicity of just one click using the internet. Actually, many wholesalers have websites that sell different cheap jewelry at reduced prices so combining both the ease of purchase and the reasonable price at the same time.

Usually wholesalers are categorized based on the type of products they sell, for example, gold and platinum or specially designed jewelry that are considered artworks. Also their websites are divided into many sections depending on the occasion the piece will be used or gifted, like bridal or shower jewelry, and others are categorized based on the novelty of their design, or the material or stones they contain and within each of these categories you will find many other subcategories, for example, it could be further subdivided into earrings, necklaces, bracelets and so. With such categorization, it is so easy to pick what you need from the many available online and to complete your purchase through the internet.

One advantage of accomplishing your purchase online is that you can find all the information you need to know about the product, whether it is the material, the design and certainly the price and if you have any further inquiries you can contact the seller through email or through a customer service line. And with the multitude of options available, your chance of finding something you like at an adequate price are really high. The delivery is also one point that contributes to the excellence of these websites, where you can get your pieces faster and more effectively while staying at home.

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 Women love every kind of jewelry may it be gold, platinum, silver or diamond. Jewelry has always been a favorite gift for women. Women just love to wear different kinds of jewelries and the more they have the better they are.cheap fashion earrings

Men get confused and have no idea on where to buy? And what to buy in jewelries for their lady love. When you purchase jewelry as a gift you might find it very confusing after seeing variety of designs and shapes. It is advisable to choose the princess length necklaces 17 to 19 inches. This size is an excellent selection when men are not sure about the length then strand length of necklace is considered as the most appropriate one.

Men should always consider the preferences of the women whether she likes wearing silver jewelry, diamond studded platinum jewelry or gold jewelry. These days’ sterling silver jewelries are very affordable as well as very versatile.

You should find many things before buying any wholesale fashion jewelry for her. Look whether or not she is she is allergic to metal. Many people complaint about jewelry allergy, it is one common thing. The main reasons for jewelry Blog reviews allergies are the content called nickel which is present in the jewelry. Pure silver and gold metal are very soft and it have nickel mixed to make these metals hard. In case of gold the less is the value of karat, the more nickel content is mixed with the metal.

Men should avoid any kind of dyed gemstones. Few of them leave temporary colors streaks on your skin when the metal comes in contact with the moisture through perspiration and perfumes. However, it is essential to know that all dyed sort of gemstones does not have this kind of problem. You can use the best judgment while selecting colorful gemstones jewelry. If the color appears to be thick and unnatural, it is possibly be a dyed gemstone which may wipe off into the skin.

Before purchasing jewelries for her you should consider the size and the design of the necklace or earrings as it is very important part of selection. Would she wear chunkier beads as well as pendants, smaller or lighter jewelry?

Always consider the lifestyle that she lives in. Would she like simple jewelry or prefer dangling pieces? Lastly, purchase designer handmade jewelry manufactured with semi-precious gemstones, glass, Swarovski crystals, and other superior materials. One can search for unique designs which are affordable and beautiful.

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Michigan House Bill 5711 – considered to be the most extreme anti-abortion bill in the country — is moving through the state legislature. 

Michian resident Jenni Lane shared her story on RH Reality Check, explaining that she made the painful decision to terminate her pregnancy because the fetus suffered from a severe brain malformation. HB 5711 would make it illegal for Jenni to have an abortion. 

Michigan lawmakers made it even clearer how they feel about the rights of women state. This week, Michigan lawmakers blocked women like Jenni from sharing their stories about the need to access abortion during a committee meeting.

Says Jenni:

“I feel so angry and so deeply sad that legislators supporting these bills are willfully ignoring stories like mine. It’s unconscionable, because women’s lives and health are at stake, and the expertise of medical providers is undermined and ignored. I have been tentative about that phrase that is used right now, the ‘war on women,’ because it sounds too much like polarizing rhetoric. But today, my own personal hurt and anger does make me feel attacked. When people in positions of power abuse it to implement policies that have devastating effects on other people, it’s aggressive and adversarial. But when these legislators simply will not hear from those who they disagree with, it feels ‘un-American,’ and fundamentally wrong.”

Categories: Abortion, Uncategorized
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Yesterday the CDC released the results of its Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, a survey of 15,000 high school students around the nation that asks questions about a variety of health and safety behaviors.

The headline for sexual health was: no headline.

There were no statistically significant changes in the percent of young people who have ever had sex (47%), who are currently sexually active (34%), or who used condoms (60%) and/or the most effective forms of birth control (24%) at last sex.

The only statistically significant change was in HIV education, and it wasn’t good: the percentage of students taught in school about HIV has trended down since 1997 and went down between 2009 to 2011 (from 87% to 84%).

What lessons can we take from this?

1) No matter how much adults want to live in denial, a significant proportion of teens are having sex. Among seniors, 63 percent of students have already had sex and nearly half are currently sexually active.

2) Safer sex messages still haven’t taken hold among all young people. While it’s wonderful that so many young people are using condoms and birth control, those numbers need to be much closer to 100 percent, with all young people fully protected.

3) Every year fewer students are learning about HIV – and we already knew that less than a quarter have been tested for HIV. What’s causing this – the abstinence-only programs that have taken root around the nation? No Child Left Behind and the emphasis on standardized testing? Funding cuts in the current economic climate? Whatever the cause, the erosion of HIV education has to stop. Students’ lives depend on it.

Read the full Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance here. Also check out Martha Kempner’s discussion of the results on RH Reality Check.

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by Debra Hauser
President, Advocates for Youth

Inevitable. Since President Obama announced his personal support for marriage equality last month, reporters and pundits alike have said same-sex marriage is "inevitable." That it is only a matter of time before gay and lesbian couples will be allowed to legally marry across the United States. And, now with recent court rulings on Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, it is very likely the Supreme Court will weigh in on this sooner than later. With the personal backing of Vice President Biden, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, President Obama, the NAACP, Latino singer Ricki Martin, and even hip hop mogul Jay-Z it might just be the case that marriage equality is inevitable.

Of course, not everyone agrees with the President’s position. Opponents of same-sex marriage are numerous and vocal, the Defense of Marriage Act is currently still on the books, and 31 states have a constitutional ban preventing it.

So why does marriage equality now look inevitable? The answer may be found with the swiftly growing cultural acceptance of gay and lesbian rights and demographic changes that elevate the potential political power of Millennials.

The change in public attitudes on marriage equality has been rapid. In just eight years, the national polling shows a shift of 16 percentage points in favor of marriage equality[1]. And, only sixteen years after President Clinton signed into law a bill defining marriage as the union between a man and woman, we have President Obama coming out in support of same-sex marriage and a federal appeals court ruling the law unconstitutional. The movement on marriage equality is an example of how quickly change can now occur in our society when propelled by a generation that is technologically savvy and willing to challenge preconceived norms of older generations.

Millennials represent an ever increasing share of the electorate. Young people born between 1980 and 1991 comprise 64 million potential voters in 2012[2].  And they support marriage equality. If you look at any recent poll, the divide between those who support gay rights and specifically marriage equality, and those who oppose it, can be measured in years:  if you’re under 29 you are more likely than any other generation to support the rights of gay and lesbians and to support marriage equality– and politicians and other leaders have clearly taken notice. In recent months, support for marriage equality reached a new high with 74% of Millennials supporting legal recognition of marriage between gay and lesbian couples[3].

Despite the popular misconception of rampant homophobia within communities of color, support for gay rights is also strong among young adults of color. Over two-thirds (67%) of Millennials of color support some form of legal recognition of gay couples — either legal marriage (48%) or civil unions (19%). The numbers are similar to those of young adults across the country. In fact, only three in ten youth of color (29%) say there should be no legal recognition.  To break these numbers down further, 58% of African-American, 70% of Latino, and 76% of Asian Pacific-Islander youth agree that same-sex couples should receive legal recognition[4].

While previous generations paved the way for change, Millennials are the first generation to see consistently positive images of gay men and women in the media, the first to grow up with Gay/Straight Alliances in their schools, and the first to routinely know families with two mothers or two fathers. They are also the first generation to be completely at ease with social media, using it not just as a means to exchange information but as a pathway for shifting norms, attitudes and beliefs among their peers.

Millennials grew up with gay characters featured prominently in the popular television shows they watched, and not just as guest appearances or in stereotypical roles, but in lead roles. Gay characters – particularly portrayals of gay teens – humanized gay and lesbian stories and became an important part of the collective adolescent psyche.

Millennials are digital natives – they have lived their whole lives with the Internet, social networks, and texting and most are completely fluent with these technologies. Three-quarters have created a social networking profile, eight in ten report texting in the last 24 hours, and a majority (54%) believes new technology brings them closer to friends and family[5].

Today, over six in ten Millennials say that they have a close friend or family member who is gay or lesbian,[6] and personally they are more comfortable discussing their own sexual orientation than any prior generation. Social media has fueled this openness. With the ability to state your sexual orientation or relationship status as part of your most basic identifying information, Facebook has transformed the ability for gay and lesbian Millennials to live openly, and for their peers be more aware of the LGBT people in their lives.

Millennials are not going to sit idle as friends, colleagues, and family members are denied their rights. They are already leading the charge on this issue, redefining conventional wisdom on marriage. Policy makers will continue to be seen as more and more out of touch if they refuse to follow suit. Possibly President Obama knew this to be true when he declared his personal support last month. In fact, one day, we may well divide the debate on same sex marriage by _before

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This saturday i will be hosting a big event in my community talking about sexual heathy rights and comp sex ed.

Categories: Uncategorized
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The definition of prostitution is a person who barters sex to the sexual partner, usually accepting cash and sometimes Visa. It seems like we don’t deem prostitution a crime until the person has a large clientele. Pondering upon it, prostitution is probably the most under reported crime because people barter sex for material gain very casually and both parties are almost always satisfied.

If Prostitution was legalized and marketed it could be financially beneficial (occluding the attached spiritual, biological, and moral effects.) Our economy could use some excitement from stock buyers gorging on the promising stock of Prostitution. Do you think prostitution should be legitimized ?

Categories: Uncategorized
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Safety first ,then Sex
The question was asked, “is it safer for prostitution to be legalized?” A sect believes that if prostitution were legal, prostitutes wouldn’t have to work on the radically harmful environment of the streets. Well, I can see that point to a certain extent. A prostitution company legitimized by bureaucrats and red-tape would naturally progress to safety precautions and regulations in the prostitution business. We would see security at the door of a brothel, paperwork involved to solidify consent of all parties, regular sexually transmitted disease testing, and condom requirements (much like the porn industry. Hmm this sounds exactly like the porn industry.–on second thought we don’t need to legalize prostitution we just need all sex workers to film their work and call it “entertainment”. Then –oh–it all makes perfect sense to policy makers and citizens.)
Room for Debates reports,  “A Canadian court recently ruled that laws preventing brothels endangered prostitutes by forcing them to work on the streets. And as the recent Secret Service scandal makes clear, in Colombia, prostitution is legal in “tolerance zones.” But in Spain, prostitution is essentially legal” as well as it is  legal in Amsterdam.
So what are your thoughts- IS it safer for prostitution to be legalized? At the very least, those in the sex worker industry SHOULD have the right to carry condoms with them, without fear of being arrested and thrown in jail for prostitution, if randomly frisked by a police offer. SAFETY FIRST- Everyone deserves that right!!!

Categories: Uncategorized
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by Bianca Laureano

There’s been a lot going on over the past week to start off Pride month. Here are a few exciting and interesting stories. Please consider this trigger warning as these stories will be discussing transmisogyny, violence,

CeCe McDonald and Support
If you have yet to hear about CeCe McDonald, I don’t know what to say but get on it! In short, CeCe is a young Black trans woman who is a survivor of racist and transphobic and transmisogynistic comments in her home state of Minnesota which lead to violence. She was attacked by 4 people and fought back for her life. One of her attackers died and she has been incarcerated at a men’s prison for the past year. CeCe pled guilt to manslaughter for a reduced sentence and and was sentenced this week to 41 months in prison with some time served toward her sentence and to pay over $6000 in restitution.

CeCe has an amazing support time working to help her legally, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically during her incarceration. There are book clubs, letter writing campaigns,  fundraising,  and movement building that you can participate in today! Visit this site  as the main space to find more information and official updates from her team (there have been some unapproved CeCe petitions and such going around) and follow them on tumblr. 

Leslie Feinberg Arrested
Author and activist Leslie Feinberg was arrested on June 4, 2012 the day CeCe McDonald was sentenced.  One of the things I find incredibly important to be reminded of is from Feinberg’s official statement after arrest which reads in part:

As a white, working-class, Jewish, transgender lesbian revolutionary I will not be silent as this injustice continues! I know from the lessons of histories what is means when the state—in a period of capitalist economic crisis—enacts apartheid passbook laws, bounds up and deports immigrant works, and gives a green light to e white supremacists, fascist attacks on Black peoples—from Sanford, Florida, to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to a courtroom in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The prosecutor and the judge are upholding the intent of the infamous white supremacist Dred Scott ruling of 1857.

The same year Fredrick Douglass concluded: “Without struggle, there is no progress!”

CeCe McDonald is being sent to prison during the month of Juneteeth: celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation—the formal Abolitionist of “legal” enslavement of peoples of African descent. The Emancipation Proclamation specifically spelled out the right of Black people to self-defense against racist violence.

Yet, the judge, the prosecutor, and the jailers are continuing the violent and bigoted hate crimes begun by the group of white supremacists who carried out a fascist attack on CeCe McDonald and her friends.

CeCe McDonald is being sent to prison in June—the month when the Stonewall Rebellion ignited in the streets of Greenwich Village in 1969. From the Compton’s Uprising to the Stonewall Rebellion, defense against oppression is a law of survival.

Ms. USA 2012
I’ve written about beauty pageants before, especially during my Media Maker’s Salon interview with Ms. Kings County 2011 Carmen B. Mendoza.  Now, I didn’t watch the Ms. USA 2012 pageant that was aired this past weekend, however the winner, Olivia Culpo of Rhode Island,  is making news. I’m most intrigued by her answer to her interview question (which is poorly worded) and generated via Twitter: “would it be fair if a transgender woman were to win the Miss USA title over a natural-born woman?” See the video below for her answer which begins at the 1:30 mark.

She responds "I do think that that would be fair, but I can understand that people would be a little apprehensive to take that road because there is a tradition of natural-born women, but today where there are so many surgeries and so many people out there who have a need to change for a happier life, I do accept that because I believe it’s a free country.”

So, there’s a LOT going on in this answer. It is clear she is showing support for trans women as contestants, which has gained some attention recently,  and believes that freedom and liberation are elements of the US that apply to all people. At the same time there is a connection to trans women must have surgery of some sort for them to be contestants. I think this response is telling to the limited knowledge of the needs and experiences of trans* communities, especially trans women. My hope is that folks realize no trans* person needs any form of surgery or medical intervention to be considered a real person regardless of their gender. The elitism and classism connected to these ideas need to be challenged because no surgery in our society is affordable! What do you think about her comments?

Radical Sisters
There’s been a ton of talk about the work nuns (also referred to as sisters) have been a part of creating to help some of the most vulnerable populations in our societies. Their work is not often seen as valuable, especially in a society like the US where communities of Color, people with disabilities, working poor people, and people who are chronically ill are not valued as much as others, this is troubling. Yet, for generations sisters have been working to end racism, ableism, elitism, classism and create a power-with approach versus power-over approach to working within communities. Here is a great in-depth report (with videos)  about what is currently going on among sisters in the US working on various social justice agendas that are not considered appropriate and even called “radical feminist.” Yes, we do live in a country where name-calling occurs and where “radical” and “feminist” are used as slurs, and where name-calling is used as a form of abuse, where women’s work no matter what form is questioned and deemed invaluable.

New Research on Biology and Race
Author and professor of Biology and Gender studies, Anne Fausto-Sterling reviews three new books that discuss biology and race. Her thorough review published this week in the Boston Review is amazing. She reviews Dorothy Roberts “Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century,”  which examines breast cancer fatalities and experiences based on race in the US. Ann Morning’s “The Nature of Race: How Scientists Think and Teach about Human Difference,” looks into how academics in anthropology, biology and current undergraduates are taught about race. Richard C. Francis “Epigenetics: The Ultimate Mystery of Inheritance”  which discusses research that argues stress can impact a person’s physiology in such a great way that they can transmit that to their offspring, thus becoming inherited and a part of our genes that are passed down and could be a way to understand Alzheimer’s and diabetes (to name a few). The review is long, but that’s what I expect. Fausto-Sterling’s writing is somewhat accessible, but she is an academic and so there are larger words and some field-specific terms that I did not know. She leaves us with an interesting statement to conclude:

“The question of what exactly race is may be with us for while. But if we are dedicated to delivering social services and doing the right kind of laboratory research, we can, right now, address the comparative ill health of people of color, the poor, and the medically underserved.”

Sisterhood Summit Call for Proposals
The Black Girl Project’s 2nd Annual Sisterhood Summit is in the planning stages and there is a call for proposals.  As many of you know I’m a board member of The Black Girl Project, so this is something close to my heart. After last year’s Sisterhood Summit, the feedback from the young women present was overwhelmingly: we need to talk more about sex and sexuality! This year’s session is focused on all aspects of sexuality from abstinence, intimacy, anatomy, sexual orientation, safety, consent, and communication. This year there is also a track for parents who wish to attend who may also wish to accompany their child, or who desires to learn more ways to talk with their child, create messages that are appropriate and reflective of their values, and to gain more knowledge! Submit something today and keep an eye out for registration as the Sisterhood Summit is scheduled for mid-October.

Eryka Badu Talks Art
I was really excited to see this shared online, a video of artist Eryka Badu being interviewed about her process of creating art, her connection to her work, values, and how she finds peace of mind. She has some fascinating things to share and I hope soon there will be a transcript, but for now there is not. Check out the video below:

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Note: This blog of mine was first published on grist.org.

Days from now, some 130 heads of state and tens of thousands of activists from around the world will gather in Rio de Janeiro for the “Rio + 20” Earth Summit. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently laid out his vision for the conference in a New York Times article entitled “The Future We Want.”

Ki-moon expressed hope that the meeting will inspire new thinking, focus on people, and issue a “clarion call” for smarter resource use. He gave a nod to the importance of women, who “hold up half the sky,” and of young people, “the very face of our future.”

Still, one crucial ingredient went without mention: sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) The inclusion of SRHR and access to family planning completes the jigsaw puzzle of a just and sustainable world.

To understand why, consider the lives of the women who sell dried fish in my province – Leyte, in the Philippines. The women of Leyte are on the front lines of an unfolding environmental crisis. The Gulf they depend on for their livelihood has been ravaged by overfishing and the destruction of coral reefs, forests and mangroves. Where fishers once reeled in up to 50 kilograms a day, the average has now dropped to just 0-5 kilograms, barely enough to feed a family.

And climate change has disrupted the weather, making it too unpredictable to dry fish under the heat of the sun. The result, for the women of Leyte, is a substantial loss of income.

Large families are still the norm in Leyte, where most women have more than four children. Many would like to prevent or delay having another child; one in three births is unwanted or mistimed. But too many lack access to family planning and reproductive health services and information.

High fertility and declining income forces families to make painful choices. In many cases, one or two or even more of the children will be the “sacrificial lamb” who goes to work so at least some of their siblings can go to school. Most parents — especially mothers – want their children to finish school, since access to quality education can end the cycle of poverty. My own grandmother, who was widowed at the age of 33, struggled to make ends meet so that all of her four children could finish college and provide a promising future for their children.

Climate change and resource depletion will eventually affect all of the world’s people. But it is already gravely affecting the dried fish sellers in Leyte. There are efforts under way to help. The Green Climate Fund will finance climate adaptation in developing countries, and much can be done to promote better land use, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and secure rights for indigenous people.

These measures are necessary, but they are not sufficient. To make a powerful difference in the lives of the women of Leyte, we must ensure that SRHR and family planning are included in efforts to address climate change and promote sustainable development.

Family planning and SRHR is a potential game changer. Women who are empowered to make choices about childbearing are healthier and more resilient. They are more likely to invest in their children’s education; they and their children are less likely to be poor.

Imagine if the estimated 215 million women who now lack access to contraception were able to plan their families. Imagine unleashing the potential of 600 million adolescent girls, by ensuring their access to education, opportunities, and rights. In fact, imagine if every one of the planet’s three billion young people were empowered with rights and opportunity. Imagine that those young men and women are able to make informed choices to stay healthy and free of HIV; to marry if they choose and raise healthy, happy families. Imagine breaking the cycle of poverty and gender-based violence that has haunted humanity for generations and generations.

That is the future I want.

To make that future real, we must first guarantee basic human rights for women and young people. We must build a sustainable economy that is inclusive, not divisive; sustaining, not depleting. But most of all, we must ensure provision of basic social services such as education, health, and family planning for all.

We are a long way from these goals. Of the countries that have submitted plans for adapting to climate change, only the small island state of Sao Tome and Principe has included SRHR and family planning in their sustainable development plans. This is disheartening.

Yet, I do not lose hope. As Philippine Senator Gregorio Honasan said recently, “Doubt is the opposite of faith. And faith is the source of hope.” He is right; we should not lose faith. We need to work hard to bring family planning and SRHR to the Earth Summit negotiating tables. Let’s start with our own government leaders as they head to Rio this week.

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. ”..all the Lilly Ledbetter hypocrites who claim to be fighting the War on Women? Let’s hurl some acid at those female democratic Senators who won’t abide the mandates they want to impose on the private sector."

Hurling acid? Acid? Hurling acid in women’s faces. As if advocating an all-to-real threat of violence against women is an acceptable thing for a spokesman of a U.S. Representative to do.

This hideous quote came from Jay Townsend, a campaign spokesman for Congresswoman Nan Hayworth (R-NY). It appeared in a discussion (about gas prices!) on a Facebook page dedicated to dialogue within the district about local issues. There is so much in Townsend‘s quote, but I think we have to start with the acid; and that’s hard to do because I’m having a tough time conceptualizing how that quote could be said in this country and about some of our most powerful women. Actually, maybe that’s where I need to start. This did just happen in the United States. Our female political leaders were threatened with horrific violence. And worse, the Congresswoman he works for didn’t fired him. How is this true in 21st century America?

That question could be asked about a lot of things happening today, especially about women. How is access to birth control being threatened? How is getting an abortion today harder than it was 25 years ago? How are the bombings of Planned Parenthood clinics not considered domestic violence? The list continues: abstinence-only programs, filibustering the Paycheck Fairness Act and the DREAM Act, the serious lack of adequate parental leave, funding being cut for rape crisis centers and services for survivors of domestic violence, state constitutional bans on marriage equality, the ongoing 30+ year fight for an Equal Rights Amendment, mental health centers being closed, employment discrimination; it never ends. The reality is that this is the kind of environment that allows misogynists to threaten to throw acid into the faces of accomplished women.

This cannot be where our progress has led us, and yet this really happened. This is what happens under the ideology of wanting to put women “in their place.” Now this is where the other parts of the quote come in. Jay Townsend threatened these 12 women while accusing some of them of not paying their female staffers as much as they pay the men in their offices. That’s what he means by “Lilly Ledbetter hypocrites.” I have to note, though, that this claim is a bit sketchy.

While I wouldn’t necessarily be surprised if the national wage gap was just as true in the halls of Congress as it is anywhere else, the report that he is pulling this information from isn’t exactly…visible. In his Facebook comment, Townsend linked to an article from a conservative newspaper called the Washington Free Beacon (note: that’s beacon, not bacon; I read it wrong the first time and was pretty confused) which claims that they analyzed information on how much Senate staffers are paid, and concluded that 37 of the 50 Senators in the Democratic caucus pay their female employees less than their male employees.

I was curious about this, and searched the article for a link to the study. It wasn’t there. So I tried to track it down myself, but every website that came up just linked back to the WFB article. Suspicious. Next, I tried to contact the writer through Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail, asking to be sent the report. Haven’t heard back yet. I then tried looking up the information myself, but each Senator has between 50 and 80 staffers working for them, and it would be impractical for me to nose dive into such a huge project. Which, of course, also made me wonder why the Washington Free Beacon felt it was necessary to take the time right now to do such a laborious analysis. Curious.

Townsend, though, tries to use this claim as proof of the Democrats being the ones waging a war on women. He gets very confused, though, as he appears to say that the democratic women are hurting women by not following the Lilly Letter Act or the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act, and that that’s a bad thing, yet hates that they are trying to pass the PFA because it would force employers to pay their employees fairly, which is also apparently a bad thing. And then of course he also seems to be under the impression that the LLA and PFA only apply to private sector workers, which of course means that it wouldn’t apply to Senate staffers, but this, of course, is not true either.

Now, I mentioned earlier that Townsend had not been fired. The following is what has been happening since his statement. Townsend posted his comment on Facebook on May 26th. Six days later, Congresswoman Hayworth put out a statement, also on Facebook, calling the resulting outcry a “manufactured controversy.”

This is a manufactured controversy by a campaign operation that has, for months, hurled offensive rhetoric and imagery at Nan Hayworth on various Facebook pages, including the one mentioned today. It is a matter of public record that the moderator of the page in question, while purporting to represent an objective point of view, is on the payroll of the Becker campaign.

Wait, wait, wait. Stop. Hold up. So, you’re blaming your opponent’s campaign for your spokesperson threatening to burn women’s faces with acid and you’re wondering why people are upset? You really don’t see that they had an incredibly valid reason for being pissed; that all the evidence was there, and didn’t need any ginning up to seem outrageous? Is that what you thought? You’re a United States Congresswoman. Really?!?!

Two days after that, Townsend chose to resign. Note: He was NOT fired. He resigned. To be clear- he threatened to throw acid at women, and the woman he worked for chose not to fire him. Just to be clear. His announcement of his resignation, (say it with me!) over Facebook, still managed to make the whole thing worse.

It was stupid because my words were easily misconstrued; thoughtless because my choice of words obscured a point I was trying to make, and insensitive because some have interpreted the comment as advocating a violent act.

I’m sorry; your words were “misconstrued”?!? “Obscured”?!? Wrongly “interpreted” by “some” to be “advocating a violent act”?!?

Please! Tell me what is it exactly about “Let’s hurl some acid at those female Democratic Senators,” that I misinterpreted as advocating violence.

Please. Really. I’d love to see you try.

Rep. Nan Hayworth can be contacted through her Facebook page, her website, or at her office, at 202-225-5441.

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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Amplify has the stories you need to hear! With so many great contributors from all over the world, you definitely don’t want you to miss out on the top insightful and informative stories of the week. Check in each week for a list of must-read posts. Whether it’s a national story or a individual experience, these are the issues you care about!

May 27- June 2

Stats this week: 26 blogs by 15 writers

Planned Parenthood “sting” as pointless as usual- by AFY_EmilyB

Inside this post:

So: the video is about a theoretical medical procedure that would be highly statistically unlikely in this country.
Plus, the counselor doesn’t advise anything illegal.
Thus, having no real whistle to blow, the video uses the fictional scenario to get you to respond emotionally to the idea of sex-selective abortion and to call for it to be outlawed.

Yo te conozco, bacalao: Recognizing PRENDA for what it is- by AFY_Aimee

Inside this post:

Now you might think that Congressman Franks, if he really cared about ending this practice, would want to restrict all methods of sex selection. But you would be wrong. Because despite everything Franks says, this isn’t about sex discrimination or caring about female fetuses. This is an abortion ban in disguise.

Remember Sarah Baartman- by Media_Justice

Inside this post:

In 1810 an English doctor on a ship, William Dunlop, met her and convinced her to travel to Europe with him. She agreed and Dunlop took her with him to Europe where she was put on display for others to view and given the name “The Hottentot Venus.” Her body shape and size was seen as oddly disfigured by Europeans and Dunlop.

Mothers, Daughters, and Loving Yourself- by U-DGurl

Inside this post:

Growing up I never got the “right’ messages of sex or rights of young people, especially young girls. Sexually explicit materials and romantic books that exaggerate a woman’s sexual experience were my primary sources of information, but we all know how terrible those things can be. What’s worse, young girls are “encouraged” to emulate these women that they clearly are not. Up to a certain age, I thought it was acceptable for men to beat their women; acceptable that much older men would lure 25 year olds to their rooms; acceptable that no girl is special enough to desire a life except that with a husband and children.

Lack of Sex Education Among Young Women in the Latino Community- by Brenda_Bri

Inside this post:

Lately I have been trying to inform almost every girl about reproductive justice that I encounter that seems to lack sex education. I try explaining their rights as a young women, sexual awareness, and how sex doesn’t make you a bad person. I enjoy informing young women about sex because I know I’m doing a great thing. I know that everything I explain to them will be spread and eventually lead them to make better decisions.

Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!

~ Samantha
Community Editor

My blog posts this week:
Four reasons I’ve decided not to weigh myself
New Mexico Health Official Asked to Resign for Suggesting Teens Use Condoms
Rape Victim Denied EC and Rape Kit Because it’s Legal in Oklahoma for Doctors To Do That (TW)

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There are so many birth control options out there nowadays, its no wonder it can be confusing on what may be best for you. From ones to worry about day to day, monthly or even yearly, there is a contraceptive method that can and will be a perfect fit for everyone. There are methods you can take by mouth such as the pills. There are methods such as patches which deliver hormones through the skin or ones inserted into the body such as Nuvaring, Implanon or IUDs.


If you are interested in getting on a method of birth control, no one can determine what method is best for you but you and your doctor. You should do thorough research on methods you think you would like. See what methods close friends or family members use. Ask about their experiences- what they like and don’t like. You should go to reliable websites such as Planned Parenthood or South Carolina Contraceptive Access Campaign to get information if you do not have someone you can ask these personal questions to. To get started on your research, check out Your Birth Control Choices for basic information on a number of contraceptive options.

Always remember that SAFE SEX IS THE BEST SEX. Cost should never be an issue for why you cannot be on a reliable method of birth control. Check out Where Can I Go For Birth Control Options? if you need help finding places to go for reduce cost contraceptive methods.

Categories: Uncategorized
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Just as people associate wrong links to the whole issue of climate change there also exists some right links toward the movement for climate change. According to a paper prepared for the WE ACT for Environmental Justice conference on advancing climate justice: transforming the economy, public health and our environment by Betsy Hartmann and Elizabeth Barajas-Roman, one of the right links towards the movement for climate change climate change is saying no to nuclear power rather than relating population, immigration and national security to climate change. Clearly climate change is one of the most urgent environmental, economic and social issues of our time and with the release of toxic chemicals which are so powerful and have varying effects on reproductive health the reasons to oppose the expansion of nuclear power are supposed to be enforced. As a matter of fact these byproducts of nuclear energy are very harmful not only to women who toil the earth surface daily in order to meet up with their families needs and risks such as early miscarriages and other reproductive effects but are also harmful to men who run the risk of testicular cancer or other reproductive health effects. Besides these reproductive health effects there are also environmental and social effects such as pollution, earth tremors, death, separation of families, unending grief and several other disasters which can and could be avoided if priorities are given to the right links in the movement for climate justice

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Sunday morning, a senior campaign advisor for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign named Eric Fehrnstrom was a guest on ABC’s “This Week.” While discussing efforts to reach female voters, the host asked Fehrnstrom to respond to an article from New York Magazine, quoting Obama’s chief political strategist, David Plouffe.

We’re gonna say, ‘let’s be clear what [Mitt Romney] would do as president’… Potentially abortion would be criminalized. Women would be denied contraceptive services. He’s far right on immigration. He supports efforts to amend the Constitution to ban gay marriage.

Fehrnstrom’s response indicated his belief that such a strategy wouldn’t work for Obama, stating that “This is not a social issue election.”

Mitt Romney is pro-life. He’ll govern as a pro-life president, but you’re going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people’s attention from the Obama performance on the economy.

Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager, who was also on the panel, pointed out the (unsurprising) hypocrisy of such a claim.

“If it’s not a social issue election then why did Mitt Romney just spend the last year campaigning on social issues? These are his positions that he’s taken. Whether it’s giving bosses control over whether female employees can get contraception, being for the so-called personhood amendment that would ban all forms of abortion or telling the American people that he’ll get back to them on whether he supports Lilly Ledbetter [Fair Pay Act] — which is an economic issue and it should be a no-brainer, but the governor couldn’t even bring himself to be for that.”

While many people are already aware that the extreme, conservative policies that Romney supports throw women under the bus, the use of the term “shiny objects” crystallizes this in a deeper way. It demonstrates that the problem with conservative politicians being willing to significantly roll back women’s rights is that they don’t view them as significant to begin with. Describing issues as “shiny objects” implies they are meaningless, and only of notice or consequence to those who don’t know better. And these are the policies that are being debated in a presidential election? It suggests that women who care about losing legal access to contraception and abortion, being denied the rights and protections of marriage, and/or having a path to citizenship for themselves and their children are worried about meaningless, inconsequential things.

Policies that limit the rights and needs of women don’t belong in 21st century elections. Calling women’s rights “shiny objects” sounds more like something from the 19th century. We need candidates in both parties who realize that women’s rights are as valid and important as any other. In this century, women are not shiny objects and neither are their rights.

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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Sunday morning, a 24-year-old woman was raped in an apartment complex. She contacted her mother, who drove her to the nearest hospital (Integris Canadian Valley Hospital) to receive medical care for her assault. When they got there however, mother and daughter were shocked when the doctor assigned to her treatment informed them that due to budget cuts, there were no Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners on permanent staff to provide a rape kit. SANE nurses are specially trained and work only with rape victims, ensuring “the proper collection, preservation, and documentation of evidence” be provided to local law enforcement and the District Attorney “without re-traumatizing the victim.” Apparently, someone thought it was good enough to have SANE staff rotate monthly between four hospitals, each about 25- 35 minutes away from each other.

Worse, even though the hospital had emergency contraception available on hand and was not religiously affiliated, the doctor refused to provide emergency contraception to the young woman, based solely on the fact that it was against her “conscience.” In Oklahoma, and many other states, this is legal. “Conscience clauses” mean that if a medical provider has any personal, moral, or religious objection to performing or providing any specific act, they have the right to refuse care.

In an interview with KWTV News, the rape victim’s mother describes her shock and disappointment with how her daughter was treated.

“I was shocked that they wouldn’t provide treatment to a rape victim.”

“Her attitude was so condescending. It was like she was treating my daughter like she had done something wrong.”

My daughter said, “Is it you that won’t give [emergency contraception] to me? Do you have them here, and you just won’t give them to me?” And she said, “That’s right. I will not give you emergency contraceptives because it goes against my beliefs.”
“Even though she’d been advised that your daughter had just been raped?”
“Yes. Absolutely. She knew my daughter had just been raped.”

Reporter: Rhonda says at no time did the doctor offer to get another doctor at Canadian Valley Hospital to see them or to help her daughter.

“Her attitude was so judgmental. And I felt like she was just judging my daughter.”

This is yet another big problem because although the doctor had a right to personally refuse care, she also had “an obligation to minimize disruption in delivery of care,” which she clearly did not provide.

Rhonda decided to take her daughter to Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where she was relieved to see that her daughter was given proper medical care and treated with respect.

“She was treated so well there. The staff, the doctors, the SANE examiners, they were just so wonderful to her. She stopped feeling like she was at fault.”

It is beyond comprehension how someone with a medical degree would reject medical science. It is impossible that this young woman was pregnant, having come to the hospital the day she was raped. That’s just not how pregnancy works, and a doctor should know that. IF her ovary had released an egg sometime in the past 24 hours and was making its way through her fallopian tube, and IF her rapist hadn’t been wearing a condom, and IF one of his sperm had reached the egg by the time she got to the hospital, she would STILL be about 8 to 11 days away from the fertilized egg becoming fully implanted in her uterus, making her officially pregnant. This means that there is absolutely no way for the doctor to object to emergency contraception on the basis that it would end a pregnancy. And then she has the gall to talk down to this woman whose been raped, as if she can’t believe that anyone who was forced to have sex wouldn’t love to become a mother because of it. This woman doesn’t deserve to practice medicine if she’s going to prioritize religiously-influenced beliefs over provable medical facts.

I’m working on gathering more information on this doctor, including confirming her name, determining if any disciplinary action is going to be taken, and if she has a history of providing inadequate care. I’ll provide updates as the story progresses. In the meantime, you can contact the hospital through their website if you’d like to voice your opinion

~ Samantha
Community Editor

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Does it irritate anyone else that people against LGBTQ claim that people are trying to shove a certain way of life into everyones faces when they do the same thing? And does frustrate anybody that a straight couple can walk down the street and by standers gush about how cute they are but a gay/lesbian couple may get taunted or assualted? I don`t get it love is love whats so hard about that? Our society sucks and it`s quite annoying how people only see things as one way or the other. sorry about my little rant here i know its only my first post but i just wish thinks could change and i`ll never give up hope that they will. 
have a nice day Y`all hehe 

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On Wednesday we discussed the Trojan horse Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011 (aka PRENDA), a bill which would have banned sex-selective abortion and punished doctors with jail time for performing such abortions.  On Thursday the House voted the bill down.  Supporters of the bill say:

The plan all along, they said, was to use the vote to paint Democrats as disingenuous in their support for women’s rights by arguing that they voted against a bill intended to protect unborn baby girls.

Hogwash, or as Aimee said on Wednesday, codfish.  She pointed out, abortion is only one way sex selection is accomplished, yet Republicans are not attacking sperm-sorting or any of the other procedures.  And banning any kind of abortion, especially with jail time for doctors, only further stigmatizes the procedure and makes it harder for all women to get.  True support for women’s rights must include supporting the right to safe and legal abortion.  That’s not disingenuous, it’s just a fact.

Categories: Abortion, Uncategorized
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A 10-year old girl who was a victim of sexual abuse has made a shocking confession, saying that she cannot do without having sex with men daily.
She narrated how an old man, who was their neighbour at Mile 12, Lagos State, southwest Nigeria, lured her into sex at seven and since then she cannot resist having sex everyday. The primary two pupil said if she did not see any man to have sex with her in her area, she would go to a popular under bridge at Mile 12 Lagos and beg for sex from touts.
She said she came from Enugu state to Lagos to live with her aunt after the death of her father.
Her case has become so serious that she had to be referred to an NGO, Community Health Support and Empowerment Initiative, COHSAEI, which has taken up the challenge to rehabilitate her.
The little girl said she was lured into sex by a man she called Baba who lived with her aunt in the same compound.
She said the man (Baba) usually called her to his apartment whenever his wife and her aunt were not around and will put his finger inside her private part.
“He will tell me to come back home immediately our school closes and when I reach home he will be waiting for me to finger my vagina,” she narrated.
She said with time he started having real sex with her.
She said when the man that initiated her into it moved out of their area, she resorted to meeting other men in the area without her aunt knowing.
She said she has become addicted to sex and cannot do without it.
“When I desire sex and I do not see anybody to do it in my area, I will go under the bridge and beg the touts to do it for me,” he said.
Her predicament came when she confessed to her teacher what she was going through after the teacher noticed some abnormal behaviour in her.
The teacher contacted her aunt who contacted an NGO for assistance.
The programme coordinator of the NGO, Mrs. Priscilla Ingbia, noted that her case was very pathetic because of her age. She said her group took up the challenge to rehabilitate her because it was clear if nothing was done urgently her future was in danger.
She said her organisation has started the process of rehabilitating her by carrying out series of tests on her to ascertain her health conditions.
Ingbia stressed the urgent need to relocate her from her present environment and start a new life for her.
She said her organisation has not been able to do so because of the financial cost of doing so.

Source: PM News

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 I want to share with you the post, I wrote before in my Russian blog

Why don’t some gay men and bisexuals follow the rules of safe sex even if they are
aware of them? Why did they risk and deal with unsafe sex?

Below I have compiled a list of answers to these questions after a long and painstaking
interviewing of several gay and bisexual men in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan:

Gay or bisexual men in Bishkek avoid safe sex, because:

• They mistakenly assess the risk of being infected by HIV and STIs

• They are under pressure from their sex partners who are totally against having
safe sex and prefer unsafe practices for different reasons

• It is commonly believed that you won’t catch HIV or STIs, if you are top. This is
actually a myth, and they may also get infected by HIV or STIs.

• It is believed that the interrupted oral or anal sex is completely safe. This is the
second myth. Not only sperm, but also precum fluid can contain HIV or STIs.

• They have a mistaken belief that their sex partner doesn’t have HIV or
STIs. Some believe that if a guy looks healthy, then he can’t be infected. Others
pay attention to the young age or little sexual experience. None of these
characteristics may be indicators of a negative HIV status of partners.

• They are under strong alcohol/drugs influence, when they are not able to make
responsible decisions

• They are too lazy to buy condoms and lubricants

• It is believed that condom reduces the sensitivity and they will get less pleasure during sex.

• It is believed that married men are not infected with HIV or STIs

• They are in situations that force them to have unsafe sex. For example, if they are
sex workers.

• They believe their partners when they say that they are virgins, they have sex very rarely, they practice only safe sex, etc.

• They are afraid of expressing their rights to have safe sex

• They believe that safe sex is boring, ordinary, uninteresting. Unsafe sex is much
more attractive.

• It is believed that once permanent partner appeared, then they can get rid of
condoms and immediately stop practicing unsafe sex

• After a long continence they can afford a bit of ‘risk’

• They feel shy to wear a condom or to offer their partner to wear it

Are there any other possible reasons that I didn’t mention here?

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In this blog post I want to give you a short overview of IDAHO concept, goals, and history both worldwide and in Kyrgyzstan.

This day was officially launched in 2004, when an instructor, lecturing in one of the universities in France, Louis-Georges Tin, established the IDAHO Committee [link], which coordinates the IDAHO events worldwide, providing with necessary resources and recommendations.

IDAHO is celebrated on May 17, because World Health Organization eliminated homosexuality from International Classification of Diseases exactly on May 17, 1990.

Since 2004 the number of various events, dedicated to IDAHO, has been increasing dramatically, involving more and more countries, local initiatives, non-governmental and community organizations, international organizations, universities and private companies.

In 2009 IDAHO began to draw more attention to transgender issues: new petitions were signed and France became the first country in the world, which excluded the transsexualism from the list of mental disorders.

In 2010 the President of Brazil signed the special act, according to which National Day Against Homophobia is officially recognized and celebrated annually.

The goal of IDAHO is discussion LGBT issues and creation of the platform for the dialogue between LGBT community, mass media, the Government, civil society and religious institutions.

Short History of IDAHO in Kyrgyzstan

IDAHO-Kyrgyzstan started in 2005, when a round table was organized in the office of "Adilet" (Law Clinic). The representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman Insitute and the Ministry of Internal Affairs insisted that there’s no disciminiation against LGBT and the Constitution actually defends everybody in the republic. One representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs added that he would beat the guys, holding their hands and walking in the park (the sotry was shared by Anna Kirey).  

In 2006 Alex (a local transgender activist) told his story in the local channel KOORT. This year activists gathered information about violence (and sexual violence in particular) and later, the collected cases were presented in the report of Human Rights Watch.

Beginning 2006 IDAHO was celebrated mostly in the community of LGBT and their allies for safety reasons. However, more and more public actions and seminars were organized as a part of IDAHO until 2012, when IDAHO-Kyrgyzstan became a strong joint platform of several local organizations and intiatives. Click here for more info about IDAHO Kyrgyzstan-2012

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We all have different opinions on whether or not family size matters especially in a world where our resources are becoming scarcer. Those living in developed countries and even urban areas in developing countries find it hard to understand why women in developed countries and rural areas have large numbers of children. Many times we end up asking ourselves, “But don’t they know about family planning and contraception?”

The sad truth is that while many women know about the existence of family planning methods, these methods are not readily available to them. Many women have often said that they wish to delay their next child or not have any more children but due to the unavailability of contraceptives, cultural barriers, and even the absurd ideology that women ought to bear children, prevents women from planning their families. While in the developed areas, the availability of contraceptives is often taken for granted, the developing countries are suffering the consequences of lack of family planning and it is clearly being reflected in the poverty levels. While in these developed countries having more children means security in one’s old age and more helping hands, the truth is that these people are depleting their own resources without even realizing it.

For many, bringing population growth to a halt is one of the best ways to minimize environmental degradation. But is over-population really the big issue to be targeted? I believe that over-population is not as blameworthy as is the issue of lack of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) education. Personally, I feel that it sounds too harsh on people who rely on their children to survive to regard overpopulation as the main reason for the environmental issues that are presently affecting us. Yes, it’s true that population growth is a problem, but we need to keep in mind that developing countries live in a different socio-cultural environment that favors big families. When addressing the issue of family planning, it is important that we understand the socio-cultural aspect of communities so that our approach is more sensitive to the needs of women and young people.

Categories: Uncategorized
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          “My parents would kick me out the house if they found out I was pregnant .” “My parents never talk about sex.” I didn’t know there was free birth control available for me.” These are the types of things I hear young Latinas around my community say. How much more can lack of sex education affect the Latino community/ Roughly, 50% of young Latinas get pregnant. These means they are having unprotected sex. Most of these pregnancies are unplanned. Why do Latinas have the highest pregnancy rate than any other race? Could it be the cultural morals/values, social pressure, or religious pressure? How does the media usually portray Latinas? These three factors are the main reason why young women don’t know they have choices and options. Reproductive justice is something really important that needs to be known but many young women from Latino backgrounds don’t know what reproductive system means. If most of the young women knew what reproductive justice was then they’ll probably make better choices.

          Cultural values in the Latino community greatly affect the decisions made by young women. “That’s my son” is what the typical Latino father says with brag when his son is involved with many girls. But what about “That’s my girl” when she’s seen with a lot of guys. She’s expected to stay a virgin till marriage. She can’t even have a boyfriend because her parents will assume she’s having sex. And if a young women decides to have sex there’s nothing wrong with that. Girls shouldn’t feel less or dirty when they are ready to have sex. Young women Latinas are set to believe that sex is dirty. That is the reason why Latino parents tend not to talk about sex at all with their children. Many of the Latino parents come from an environment where sex wasn’t spoken in their homes so they carry on the idea to their future generations that NOT talking about sex is okay. What they don’t know is that this is affecting the choices their children make. They feel as though talking about sex may encourage their children to have sex which actually is informing them to practice safe sex in the future. Children can’t speak to their parents about sex because they were raised to not have sex till marriage. This discourages young Latinas to talk to their parents about sex.

          Young Latinas are constantly put into social and religious pressure when making choices. Why do people always have to decide for them? Young women have the right to decide for themselves and they should know that. They should know that if they’re pregnant they can decide whether to have they baby or not. They should also know that there is access available for birth control and std testing for them, race, social status, or color doesn’t matter. Most of the Latino’s religion is Catholic which makes a young Latina’s choices limited. They can’t have sex until marriage, they can’t have an abortion, and so on. These types of limitations makes Latinas think that having sex before marriage makes them look dirty so they rather not talk about it. Embarrassment or the feeling of getting judged about talking sex has come from families that don’t talk about sex. This makes it so much harder for girls to go look for help, support, and obtain accurate information. Having sex doesn’t make anybody a bad person. Sex is normal and if a young women is ready to have sex she should know how to protect herself and her partner from unplanned pregnancies, and std transmissions. Everyone has the right to have and know their choices.

          The media usually portrays Latina women as unintelligent and getting pregnant at an early age. For example in the movie Quincienera a young 15 year old Latina has an unplanned pregnancy. Her character shows that she knew nothing about sex. When young Latinas watch this movie, they seem to be watching an “unintelligent person”. This is definitely not the type of role model young Latinas need. They need an encouragement from a smart educated Latina but the media tends to rarely show positive models for Latinas.

          Ever since I started my internship in the Cuidate Program I notice how much help the Latino community needs with sex education. Starting with my school peers I noticed the lack of sex education. Lately I have been trying to inform almost every girl about reproductive justice that I encounter that seems to lack sex education. I try explaining their rights as a young women, sexual awareness, and how sex doesn’t make you a bad person. I enjoy informing young women about sex because I know I’m doing a great thing. I know that everything I explain to them will be spread and eventually lead them to make better decisions. I started to talk to the 9th graders that I tutor at my high school. I asked them if their parents talked about sex and what they think about their children having sex. Most of them responded that they weren’t aloud to have a boyfriend and they were expected to marry virgins based on their parent’s religion morals. Something that caught my attention was when a girl said she hasn’t had her period. I asked her if she has gone to the doctor with her mom. She said “ It feels really uncomfortable talking to my mom because she never talks about sex related things” I told her about reproductive justice and how she has rights to know about her body and what to do with it. I told her there was a free clinic at school available and completely confidential. I encouraged her to go and see a doctor and ask her concerns about her delayed period. She responded “ I feel weird telling a doctor that I haven’t had my period. What if I’m the only one in the school that doesn’t have her period? Isn’t the doctor going to think that I’m asking a stupid question? Can I even go to the doctor for that?” I told her not to worry that the doctor isn’t going to judge her and that doctors see all sorts of patients with different problems. To encourage her and make sure she went to the free clinic I told her I would be more than welcome to go with her to the clinic. I lead her to the clinic and she got an appointment. I told her to tell her friends to tell their friends about reproductive justice and to take advantage of the free clinic available at school. When we came out of the clinic she said thank you. Those two words meant a lot because I know that at least one person now knows more about sex and she’ll be making better decisions in her life. By just telling her I am sure she will tell her friends and her friends are going to tell their friends and eventually the word reproductive justice will mean something for those young women from Latina backgrounds. I will continue to spread the word and keep being an advocate and provide information about HIV, safe sex awareness, and the importance of reproductive justice within the Latino community.

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 I loved this month! Too many inspiring and positive things happened! 

Especially, I’m happy with IDAHO (international Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia) in Kyrgyzstan. 

The official logo of IDAHO Week in Kyrgyzstan-2012

This year several organizations in Kyrgyzstan joined their efforts in celebrating IDAHO. We created a joint platform with the following organizations:
Labrys (The most leading LGBT organization, working both on national and community levels)
Bishkek Feminist Initiative SQ (Fascinating young organization of super-amazing activists-feminists :)
Kyrgyz Indigo (Another awesome young GB organization, which already has a huge positive impact onto gay and bisexual community in Bishkek and other regions)
Transgender Initiative Group (One of the most visible transgender groups in Kyrgyzstan)
Pathfinder (LGBT organization, which has done a lot for understanding ties between LGBT issues and religion)

IDAHO Week started officially on May 16 with a press-conference and presentation of the program of IDAHO Week in Kyrgyzstan. We talked about the history of IDAHO both in the world and in Kyrgyzstan, the situation with human rights of LGBT in Kyrgyzstan, the importance of raising transgender issues and the situation of transgender people in Kyrgyzstan, followed by the video-presentation of personal stories of local LGBT. By the way the conference hall was provided by "Kloop Media", to my mind, the most LGBT-friendly and socially responsible news agency (and blog-platform at the same time) in Bishkek.

There were many events in Bishkek, dedicated to this day:
– Two TV-shows on local TV channels: OTRK (Public Teleradio Company) and 5-kanal (5th channel).
The first one was supposed to be a discussion about violation of human rights of one LGBT individual in Kyrgyzstan, however, it turned out to be another talk-show about morality vs. immorality, pathologies vs. norms, Kyrgyz traditions vs. western influence. Several local LGBT and ally organizations took part in the TV-show. I was also invited to talk about the violation of human rights of LGBT as a Kyrgyz gay young man.
You can see the video from the talk show in Kyrgyz language here

Interconfessional praying for the victims of homophobia 
"We cannot remain silent when millions of men and women suffer from, or threatened, tortured and even killed somewhere in the world, just because they exist, like the way the Lord gave them." That’s why they invited people to carry out this prayer for homosexuals, who were/are victims of violence or intimidation.

Street action "This is a letter for you!"
A group of activists informed residents of Bishkek city on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. In the city center they distributed materials containing basic information about homosexuality and the day of May 17.

The special event "Against homophobia and transphobia: solidarity, cooperation, joint creativity" (together with the platform "SHTAB")
During several days before IDAHO week LGBTs together with allies/friends were working together in the workshop of "Non-alienated protest", preparing videostories of LGBT ("LGBT in Kyrgyzstan: attitude towards the world, people, things, and toward themselves"), animation, printed T-shirts and stickers with slogans.

- The private party, dedicated to May 17 in one of the local gay clubs "Gvozd’" in Bishkek
The party for the community and allies, "Together we are the rainbow!". People at the party wore clothes, the colors of which matched one of the rainbow colors. There were songs and dances, contests and prizes, body art and the distribution of bright ribbons.

Mini-installation «TREAM»
We made and decorated an artifical tree and "planted" it in the local park. The tree was a symbol of LGBT wishes, dreams, problems and plans. Anyone, approaching the tree, hang a shred with written wishes, dreams or message to the community, allies, or the world.

Art action "We are on the way!" 
A group of activists and allies organized a trip to the mountains, where they made a big sign from colored stones. 

The workshop "How to respond to and prevent hate speech and intolerance against LGBT"
The interactive seminar helped to understand how everyday practices – the way people talk about the LGBT community – impact on the overall social prejudices and mechanisms of violence and oppression. Through various exercises seminar participants developed strategies and skills to respond to homophobic and transphobic approval or discussion, taking into account possible risks. Many people often hear various comments that overtly or implicitly express negative attitudes toward LGBT and they do not know how to prevent it. In order to make the world better, we need this crucial step – to stop the language of intolerance as a friend, family member, classmate or colleague, activist and expert.

- The public lecture "Policies, practices and identities of LGBT in the context of social institutions and hierarchies: from stigma to human rights"
The lecture discussed the social regulation of sexuality by the various institutions through the perspectives of the historical and discursive analytical approaches. Sexuality was examined as political: the processes of control and regulation of human bodies, practices, identities occur through the law, socio-medical sciences, religion, traditions, concepts of progress and human rights. 

- The workshop "How to be an ally to transgender people"
The participants received adequate and comprehensive information about the transgender people in Kyrgyzstan and their difficulties and challenges, learned how to ask questions properly and how to avoid degrading statements. This introductory workshop helped participants not only to understand, but also to develop strategies and skills how to support and become an ally, a friend or/and a friendly activist.

You can get more information in Russian here [The article at Kloop News]

Click here if you want to get more info about the history of IDAHO both worldwide and in Kyrgyzstan

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Ever since I became a youth blogger for Advocates, I’ve had a little bit of trouble defining what exactly it is I do.

“You write?” they’d ask. “What do you write for them?”

Now the answer to that particular question rests on who asks. If it’s a younger person, someone around my age, maybe about 13 to 35 years old, or someone I knew was in the same field, I’d give it to them in detail. I add the words ‘sexual’ and ‘reproduction’; ‘women’s issues’ and ‘young people’s rights’. I’d explain why I wanted to be a part of this and make them excited that I am. Hey, I’d even make then realize that they’ve been doing nothing to further their cause as young people in Nigeria and leaving their mark.

On the other hand, if that same question was asked by a much older person – someone who wouldn’t be described as a “young person” unless you used the phrase “young at heart”, then I’d give them the truth, but not be as plain and as straightforward as I normally would be. I tried telling some older women in full detail, but apparently all they could think to ask was whether I was doing this because I couldn’t find a man to marry. Enough said…

Those who are familiar with Advocates for Youth as an international organization involved in the advocacy of sexual and reproductive health rights think what I’m doing is great. Others find it odd, very odd that a young woman in Nigeria would be interested in such a thing. How ironic is that?

Mother’s friends think it’s too much “oyinbo” in me, but really, I’m as black and as Nigerian as the next person – I’m just a bit more open-minded that they would like me to be. A young woman of independent thought – something a few people lack – and dread around here. Besides, how will she ever get married if she does things like this, they’d ask.

Of all my four siblings, only one knows that I’m a youth blogger for Advocates for Youth, and even with that, I’m not so sure she understands what I do. Granted I may not have communicated as well as I should have, but why bother? If the topic has cannot be connected with shopping, marriage and/or having babies, in any way that they can relate to, then I might as well be wasting the oxygen in the room.

Growing up I never got the “right’ messages of sex or rights of young people, especially young girls. Sexually explicit materials and romantic books that exaggerate a woman’s sexual experience were my primary sources of information, but we all know how terrible those things can be. What’s worse, young girls are “encouraged” to emulate these women that they clearly are not. Up to a certain age, I thought it was acceptable for men to beat their women; acceptable that much older men would lure 25 year olds to their rooms; acceptable that no girl is special enough to desire a life except that with a husband and children.

My mother still dreads talking to me about anything sexually related. Our last conversation about HIV/AIDS left me shaking – with laughter! She looked so uncomfortable and gave me so many misinformations, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I was in an organization that advocated for safe sex and HIV prevention, and that I probably knew a lot more about this than she was letting on. And to date, that was her only foray into my sexual education – thank goodness!

With no one to turn to, I had to do things my way. Chart my own path, make mistakes, learn quickly and never underestimate the willingness of school “teachers” to fire misleading information concerning sex and child bearing. Case in point: my biology once told us, this being a true story that a girl could get if she sits on the toilet bowl that has some sperm on it. Keep in mind that I was in an all girls’ boarding school, 17 years old and incredibly naive. This was also before the going online was affordable in Nigeria, mobile phones with good browsers existed and Google in my life.

I have lots of reasons for being an advocate for women’s rights, especially as they relate to sexual and reproductive health rights. Well, I am a woman. Duh!

But most importantly, its the obligation of every person, whether male, female, young, old to advocate and make these rights known. Hundreds of reports have been given backing why the education and and encouragement of women not only strenghtens a community, but the nation, leading to sustainable development in wider spheres of varying sectors. Not to mention that improved standard of living for has been observed in homes where the wives, the daughters are educated and a better understanding of their rights and that of their families.

I love being a woman. Truth be told, I used to despise it, but not anymore. Looking back, I felt that I was being short changed. Paying a life long debt because the Lord decided that I should have breasts. But I know now I was an idiot. I celebrate my feminity every chance I can. I’m dancing as I write this now. I hope you’ll all join me. lol

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My friend has taught his three daughters, aged six to 11, never to sit on any man’s lap, for they may be unaware of the effect they may have on the man.

I am impressed with his ability to protect his daughters from unnecessary risks.

Thirteen years ago, when my eldest son was 12, he was invited to go swimming with a stranger. He agreed but informed us first.

We confronted the stranger and, needless to say, were glad that they did not swim together.

The American Psychological Association estimates that 60 per cent of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members – i.e. family friends, babysitters, childcare providers and neighbours.

Child pornographers and other abusers who are strangers may contact children via the Internet.

While I do not have the data for Singapore, I feel that parents must take proactive steps to protect their children before it is too late.

My children have been trained to know that sexual advances from adults are wrong. We tell them what are "okay" and "not okay" touches, that no one must touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.

We maintain open communication, encourage them to ask questions and talk about their experiences.

After their eighth birthday, they can ask anything about sex. Before that age, they should just accept our instructions.

Some of their questions included how babies are formed, why men masturbate, whether a girl can have sex without getting pregnant and why watching pornography is wrong when most of their friends are already doing so.

One of their acquaintances even boasted that his supply of porn DVDs came from his father. Another child, who is 12, downloaded porn on his iPhone and shared it with his friends. It is a step away from acting out what they see.

Children are curious by nature.

So, parents need to answer these questions, not abdicate responsibility to schools, trusting naively that a few lessons on sexual education is enough.

These lessons provide only information, with no assurance that children would make the right decision as to their sexual experiences.

Children often act based on their attitudes towards an issue, attitudes anchored in a family’s beliefs.

Different families have different beliefs, but some are common to all, for example, that our bodies are not objects to be toyed with.

Other beliefs, like on contraception, abortion, divorce, the role of masturbation, visiting a prostitute, are more challenging.

Adults compromise on some of these but may be unhappy if their children follow suit.

Parents have to examine their fundamental beliefs about sex and sexuality and walk the talk. Children are sharp; they know when we are insincere.

If they do not think us trustworthy in this aspect, they would seek other sources of information, such as friends, the Internet or adult magazines

Sex education is parents’ most important gift to children, as any misinformation may harm their health in the form of sexually transmitted diseases.

We should start as soon as possible to inoculate our children against pedophiles.

Source: www.todayonline.com

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Two weeks ago decided venture out of my little slice of heaven I call Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, its haven of calm, its blissful organisation to Lagos, Nigeria’s very own Sin City: the economic powerhouse of my great nation, over flooded due to bad drainage and pollution; overpopulated with many of its residents living in squalor. Clean water scarce if available at all, and barely no electricity – they survive on generators – and absolutely no peace and quiet! Darkness, noise and filth as far as the eye could see.

Formerly Nigeria’s very own trashopolis, now thankfully, only the obligatory heaps of trash by the busy roadsides, potholes everywhere you drive and poverty. Yes, the terrible poverty that so many seem to endure, no, to exist by. Little children competing with aged men and women with basins of fruit, bread or cold drinks on their heads running between dangerously speeding vehicles in traffic, hawking their wares, and even their bodies, instead to going to school.

Mothers who cannot fend for their newly born babies, mostly twins, triplets and even quadruplets, lay them out on the pavements, so as the world passes by, they would take pity on her and drop a little token to feed the little ones, even only for the day’s meal.

And they say Nigeria has improved? How much so?

Most times we talk about sending children to school to get educated, educating girls to improve a nation’s chances of becoming more sustainable economical and socially. But when I see what Lagos had to offer its "leaders of tomorrow", I couldn’t help a snort of derision. Lagos state has for the past few months been under siege due to the state wide doctors strike, where the governor of the state fired over 700 doctors. Though they have had great strides in recent years, not paying the doctors who work for the state for almost a year, is in terrible form, to say the least. I cannot imagine the patients who are still suffering and have died from all sorts of illnesses and complication. Most especially the women.

The education system in the entire country to burning up in flames, or it might as well be, given the lack of primary foundation so many students lack. Imagine a 3rd year undergraduate can not speak coherent English or even spell simple words.

In previous years regular news of discouragement that secondary school (high school) students continually take home to their parents after another failed attempt at their university entry level examinations was a cause of concern. Well, not anymore. To solve this problem, the wise and intelligent people at the country’s Ministry of Education decided to sole the matter. not by finding a solution to the lack of foundation those students have, but by reducing the cut off mark for the university entrance examinations to 180 over 400 points. Not only does that mean that Nigeria is allowing its young ones to get a higher education at the lowest score possible below the average rate, those in government are encouraging lack of discipline, curiosity and pride in accomplishment. This is the same nation whom, not more than a year ago referred to its recent graduates as “half-baked” and incapable of a single coherent thought, all somewhat true for some. And that was before they had the university entry examination scores reduced. Some students aren’t to blame. Some corrupt university officials withhold results and admit other less deserving students into the university, for a course they have no foundation or knowledge for.

How can we hope for sustainable development when we do everything in our power to make sure that doesn’t happen?
As a law student, I know the pains of gaining admission and studying a course for 5 years plus an addition year for law school just so my family can brag to their friends that their daughter is a barrister. But what will all this school, as this spending money on an education system that is deeply flawed and rotting? Why bother applying myself when I have full knowledge of someone who would not only help me get straight A’s in whatever course I do, but will also give me whatever CGPA I prefer as long as I have the money to pay for it?

The lack of well trained teachers passionate about the knowledge they would soon impact on their students are rare and almost nonexistent in state run schools. Meager salaries that are rarely paid for an educator to fend for himself and his family, over populated classrooms, ancient textbooks our parents would recognize fondly, class notes lecturers have used for almost a decade (no lie); amongst other ailments don’t help anyone, least of all those that educate or those to be educated.

I was lucky. I had parents who didn’t just want me to study hard and learn at school, they also wanted me to be curious and excited about learning outside the classroom. I went the extra mile because I could, I had the foundation to excel and I had parents who could afford to send me to school. I know I am lucky. But those kids with basins on their heads, begging for alms and running between traffic to sell water at the risk of being hit by vehicles are not. They don’t have a choice, their parents can’t afford school and living. If they had a choice, I doubt it if any child of theirs would want to carry loads more than twice their size for less than 2 dollars a day.

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by Bianca Laureano

This is the tenth anniversary of Sarah Baartman (also known as Saartjie Baartman)  being returned to her home in South Africa. Sarah is an important woman to me because she reminds me of how bodies of Color, bodies that are feminine, and the sexuality of Black and African women remain devalued in the world we live in today. If you do not know Sarah’s legacy I’ll share a bit of it with you here.

Sarah Baartman was a Khoisian woman from South Africa. Born in the late 1780s (yes, you read that correctly), Sarah was a member of the Khoikhoi community. In 1810 an English doctor on a ship, William Dunlop, met her and convinced her to travel to Europe with him. She agreed and Dunlop took her with him to Europe where she was put on display for others to view and given the name “The Hottentot Venus.” Her body shape and size was seen as oddly disfigured by Europeans and Dunlop. The reality was that her body shape and size were very much characteristics of her being a member of her community and thus not that odd.

From an outsider’s perspective she was seen as having extremely large buttocks and genitals and it was these parts of her body that were on display for those in Europe to view, for a price. Each person who wanted to see the body of Sarah, who was marketed as a “freak” paid a price to an animal trainer who “managed” her. We do not know if Sarah was given any of this money. Her body and life on display became a part of the foundation that created the scientific and anthropological theories about African sexualities, Black bodies, and difference that are still present today.

After four years in Europe she went to France where scientist William Cuvier became interested in her for the same reasons Dunlop was. Her “showings” were extremely popular and several images and cartoons were created about her presence in Europe and France. You can see some of those images here. It is believed Sarah may have become a sex worker in order to survive once the doctors lost interest in her. Being in a foreign country with different climate, illnesses, and hygienic expectations, Sarah died of an infection of which people now believe could have been syphilis.

When Sarah died, her body was taken by a museum in Paris: the Musee de l’Homme.  At the museum a cast of her body was created, her brain and genitals removed and “preserved,” and her skeleton all put on display. Again. In the museum. For over 150 years after her death, the museum had her on public display. Some believe it was 1974 that she was removed from public display, others 1985, either way it was well over a century.

Even though her body was no longer on public display, the museum kept her body in their archives. When President Nelson Mandela requested her body be returned in 1994, it took 8 years for an agreement. In May 2002 her body was returned to South Africa and buried August 9, 2002 on South Africa’s Women’s Day.

Now you know a bit about Sarah Baartman’s life (please don’t refer to her as the derogatory name “Hottentot Venus”). When we discussed this in the course I’m teaching about women, art, and culture, my students were shocked. They were shocked that this went on for so long, many stating how they were born only a few short years after she was taken off of public display. Others questioned why there was resistance by the museum in returning her to South Africa. We had a great conversation about what museums represent, who they represent, and what and how are certain people, things, and topics considered art.

Many folks have used her legacy and life as a force for change, activism, and new forms of media and art. For example, in 1998 Khoisian activist and scholar Diana Ferrus wrote “A Poem for Sarah Baartman”  that many believe led to the agreement to send her body home and was read when her body was handed over at the South African embassy in Paris. Her poem is below:

I’ve come to take you home –
home, remember the veld?
the lush green grass beneath the big oak trees
the air is cool there and the sun does not burn.
I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
your blankets are covered in buchu and mint,
the proteas stand in yellow and white
and the water in the stream chuckle sing-songs
as it hobbles along over little stones.

I have come to wretch you away –
away from the poking eyes
of the man-made monster
who lives in the dark
with his clutches of imperialism
who dissects your body bit by bit
who likens your soul to that of Satan
and declares himself the ultimate god!

I have come to soothe your heavy heart
I offer my bosom to your weary soul
I will cover your face with the palms of my hands
I will run my lips over lines in your neck
I will feast my eyes on the beauty of you
and I will sing for you
for I have come to bring you peace.

I have come to take you home
where the ancient mountains shout your name.
I have made your bed at the foot of the hill,
your blankets are covered in buchu and mint,
the proteas stand in yellow and white –
I have come to take you home
where I will sing
for you for you have brought me peace.

I think it’s interesting that as I’ve written this article in a word processing program on my computer, that Sarah’s first name of “Saartjie” and last name were highlighted as being spelled incorrectly, when the names of the two doctors: William Dunlop and William Cuvier, were both recognized and not ever highlighted for misspellings. This is a great example of the normalization of such practices based on white supremacy and eugenics and the erasure of the lives of women of Color and of Sarah Baartman’s.

It is this same erasure that many of us are fighting to end. Some ways to challenge the erasure and invisibility is by sharing her legacy, asking questions, creating knowledge, healing, and seeing the connections of injustice and fighting to end them. Read more about Sarah Baartman’s life and if you are interested encourage your school or local library to purchase the two films about her life by Swazi filmmaker Zola Maseko  “The Life and Times of Sarah Baartman” and “The Return of Sarah Baartman.” 

I’m writing this post, sharing it with my community online, teaching about her life and legacy, and discussing it with people in my life. I’m reminding all of the people of Color in my life they are loved and their bodies their own. What will you do to remember Sarah Baartman?

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Almost everyone knows about the general state of LGBTQ rights and issues, but few know what really goes on underneath the surface. It seems as though with every major issue, there is always a mini-war going on with sub-divided factions. For example, there’s racism on a larger scale, and then there’s a skin-color debate on a smaller scale – darker skinned people against lighter skinned ones, the former claiming that the latter has it easy because the color of their skin is a hue that affords them the ability to “pass”. It’s been the same in the LGBTQ community for a while without many being able to decipher what’s going on. Take for instance, the growing idea that a person has to identify as one thing or another. On the other hand, there’s the equally perplexing idea that a person has more than one kind of identity – sexual, gender etc. I say perplexing because, how is one supposed to have ONE identity, but still, have many facets of an identity? Human sexuality is a simple complexity. Simple in the sense that a person is who they are regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, and complex in the sense that a person can identify with so many different labels, and also, that labels don’t always mean the same thing. And this is why I maintain that sexuality is evolutionary.

I re-watched all six seasons of Showtime’s “The L Word” series about a year ago, and I was disappointed to see that some of the judgmental nature which is pervasive in society was also present in that particular fictional LGBTQ community. Take for example, Alice Pieszecki, the only bisexual woman in the series. She is constantly hassled by her friends to pick one side. For these women who have firmly established themselves as lesbians, it’s a little odd to be in the middle. After all, being a lesbian is liberating, and even more so in a society where it is mostly only tolerated. It’s not a fad, but it’s great to live the life you really want to with no compromise at all. My problem with this is that it feeds into the nonsensical opinion that there is no such thing as bi-sexuality. Let’s face it; it’s a label that draws ire from many. And shockingly, even from within the LGBTQ community. Bisexual people have been labeled as flaky, confused, and greedy. I’ll admit that I myself shied away from that label at first, choosing instead to identify as queer. But now that it has been amended by some to mean, “Sexual attraction towards two genders, or genders the same and different to yours.”, I feel a little better about it. I still don’t identify with that because of my non-belief in the gender binary, and consequently, the possibility of an attraction towards more than two genders. Confused?

Tina Kennard’s situation is similar. She is not described as a straight woman, neither does she identify as one. Throughout the six seasons, Tina is known as a lesbian who “lived largely as a straight woman” before she met Bette Porter, who she had a baby with after being partners for seven or eight years. There are two fascinating things about Tina’s case. First, the fact that she still identifies as a lesbian after she begins to be attracted to men again is consistent with my proponent theory that labels are not entirely definitive of a person’s sexuality, and that sexuality is evolutionary. The second fact is a disturbing one. I have observed many situations (mostly fictional) where heterosexuality is perceived not as normative, but as a minor sexuality. In other words, there is no “equality” of sexual orientations; rather it is an extreme argument against a heterosexual identity. To me, opinions like these go against the whole idea of equality. You want to exercise your basic human rights the same as others, but yet you think they’re the abnormal ones? Rather than this radically overzealous championing of sexuality, why not take the approach of homonormativity which incorporates heteronormative ideals and constructs into LGBTQ culture and individual identity.

In particular I always remember the scene in season 4, episode 4 where Papi challenges Alice to a basketball game. When Tina showed up, Jenny had some very interesting things to say. Oh I never liked Jenny Schecter! Her exact words to Tina were, "Yeah, but when you walk down the street with your boyfriend holding your boyfriend’s hands enjoying all the heterosexual privileges, you stopped being a lesbian," I can understand the use of the word “privilege”, but I have a huge problem with it being used to attack a person. As though they were personally responsible for the way heterosexuality is; as though they chose to date people of the same sex just so it would be easier. I’m not sure if this is a good analogy, but it’s kinda like Mo’nique and her book, “Skinny Women Are Evil”. The fact that people who certain categories of people are treated better does not make them evil or less legitimate. There are a lot more examples of how “The L Word” constantly reinforced negative stereotypes of bisexuality, but this is not a post deconstructing that series. It is my opinion that this biphobia was recurrent speaks to the general state of things.

My question is this – how did we get from a unified front of equality to such a fragmented view of things? Here’s another bad analogy – it’s kind of like a dog eating her pups. It’s one thing for society to exhibit phobia towards certain sexual orientations and gender identities, but it’s another thing altogether when people who are supposed to form some sort of support group, are the ones doing some of the damage.

“Policing Gender & Sexuality” is a series on well, gender and sexuality. These posts serve to illuminate and deconstruct some of the ongoing issues in the LGBTQ community.

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While going through the course of health education in Nepal, it’s really saddening to see the syllabus as the main focus for sexual health and reproduction is given in class 9. When I was studying, we didn’t actually have the details except the STDs and STIs mainly focusing on HIV/AIDS and reproduction system of male and female. But the time has changed and the young people are being more exposed to the issue of sexuality, sexual and reproductive health. Many people used to suffer due to lack of information but now they know it from other mediums like their friends, internet, TV, etc. if not given in their text. With this we can see that it is risky for the young people of our society to get wrong information and also get carried away with the peer pressure as it is the very main problem of adolescents.

It has been found that on an average boy starts masturbating from the age of 10-15. This shows that it is high time for them to know about themselves, about sexuality and their reproductive health during the class of 5 or 6. For this I think that education is a must thing. Adolescent find it difficult and awkward to talk about their growing pubic hair, growing of breasts, wet dreams, getting attracted to the opposite sex, etc. to their elders or parents. Especially for young girls, many boys and men try to take advantage of their innocence and sexually abuse or harass them and yet the girls can’t come and tell it to their parents unknowingly or knowingly because of awkwardness.

Sex education is a guideline for the adolescents to deal with their problems and fight for themselves. Because parents have a thought that their children will learn in school and teachers think that their parents will teach them at home. This leads for the youngsters to suffer and probability of getting the wrong information is very high. If they learn to cope up with the changes in themselves, it will be easier for them to deal with their life and help their friends or younger ones with their queries too. So Sex education is a must and also the content must be appropriate. Accordingly to the age and class the syllabus must be designed. The teacher, who is teaching health, should also be good. The teacher should make the classroom environment very friendly so that he/she should not feel awkward to talk to the students neither should students feel. If possible some extra knowledge should also be provided to the students rather from the text but should be appropriate to their age. Students should not find difficulty to ask their queries to teachers. This way the abortion rate will decrease, people will have a healthy married life and there will be control in population. The main change in our society will be the attitude of people. The word SEX will not be a taboo in our society which means that people will start talking about HIV/AIDS freely leading to the decrease of rate of infected people.

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Late last year, Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) introduced the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011 (aka PRENDA) to ban abortions on the basis of race and sex selection (more on that later). With PRENDA coming up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives today, anti-abortion hoax video auteur Lila Rose just happened to release a new video “sting operation” claiming to document sex selection at Planned Parenthood clinics. Because these totally-not-coordinated attacks on abortion access have nothing to do with each other, House Republicans made a last minute change to the bill – dropping “race selection” language completely*. Now, we just happen – totally a coincidence, we promise! – to have Congress voting on a “sex selection abortion ban” the day after a new “undercover sex selection abortion exposé” tries to hijack the news cycle.


On the surface, this legislation – along with similar bills in state legislatures – pretends to care about communities of color, who access abortion at higher rates than their White counterparts. If signed into law, PRENDA would impose civil and criminal penalties on health care providers who terminate a pregnancy for reasons of race and/or sex. In other words, this law would now make it illegal to have an abortion for a particular reason. By evoking the images of two iconic freedom fighters and using language borrowed from the Civil Rights Movement, Rep. Franks obviously hoped to distract us from his true intentions.

Let’s be clear – this is not about protecting women and girls.

So what are we really talking about? Sex selection consists of using a variety of medical procedures to ensure having a child of a preferred sex. It takes many forms, including sperm sorting, Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis, and abortion. It’s based on the idea that sex equals gender, and gender equals expected social behaviors and norms. In societies where men enjoy a higher social status than women, there is enormous pressure on women to have sons, including threats and acts of physical, emotional and verbal abuse.

And the truth is banning sex selection does not protect women and girls from this pressure. In fact, it just reinforces the gender inequality that already exists.

Now you might think that Congressman Franks, if he really cared about ending this practice, would want to restrict all methods of sex selection. But you would be wrong. Because despite everything Franks says, this isn’t about sex discrimination or caring about female fetuses. This is an abortion ban in disguise.

Sex selection, however, is real and does take place in many countries around the world, including right here in the United States. Unlike what Rep. Franks proposes, we can discourage gender bias without undermining women’s reproductive self-determination and health care. We want women to be able to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. PRENDA is a ploy to weaken support for reproductive justice in communities of color by stigmatizing women of color’s reproductive choices and saying they are not fit to make these decisions in the first place.

As reproductive health, rights and justice activists, if we really care about the lives of women and girls, we should focus on dismantling the gender stereotypes that drive the pressure to have sons. We should ensure access to comprehensive sex education and the full spectrum of reproductive health services.

We have a saying in Spanish, “Yo te conozco bacalao, aunque vengas disfrazado.” (“I know you, codfish, although you come disguised.”) Despite his newfound concern for women of color, Congressman Franks doesn’t fool me. He can hide behind the legacies of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass and co-opt human rights language, all he wants, but that doesn’t change his real agenda. He wants to ban abortion. Period. And I see through his disguise.

* Even though race selection seems to have been dropped from the bill – for now – it’s worth touching on the topic for a moment since most of these bills propose banning abortion in the case of sex and/or race selection. RACE SELECTION DOES NOT EXIST. It’s not real. Race selection is a bogeyman made up by anti-abortion activists to attack women of color, especially Black women. Women of color experience unintended pregnancies and abortions at higher rates than White woman. You and I probably understand that is because women of color have less access to reproductive health care services, including contraception, resulting in higher rates of unintended pregnancies. To anti-abortion activists, the higher abortion rates mean that women of color are terminating pregnancies because they do not want to have babies of color. Abortion opponents say any abortion by a woman of color is tantamount to genocide. But to paraphrase reproductive justice activist Loretta Ross, “What Black woman doesn’t know she’s having a Black baby?”

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The activist group LiveAction, working with anti-abortion activist Lila Rose, is pretty pleased with its series of “stings” on Planned Parenthood. What they "uncover" seems to be that Planned Parenthood provides abortions, which I thought anti-abortion activists were already well aware of, but which always seems shocking to them.

Today’s noise specifically is around sex-selective abortion. In the recently released Live Action video, a woman visiting a Planned Parenthood clinic tells the counselor that she plans to abort if the fetus is female.  

This operation’s cover had already been blown in April. That’s because, as Amanda Marcotte pointed out, requests for sex-selective abortion are so rare that Planned Parenthood staff immediately knew something was fishy when the actors came to the clinics.

So: the video is about a theoretical medical procedure that would be highly statistically unlikely in this country.

Plus, the counselor doesn’t advise anything illegal.

Thus, having no real whistle to blow, the video uses the fictional scenario to get you to respond emotionally to the idea of sex-selective abortion and to call for it to be outlawed.

“Surely you care about female babies – surely you don’t CONDONE aborting female babies?” they ask – pressuring us as pro-choice activists to condemn this kind of abortion.

Our girls are at risk, “especially in China,” the video is careful to note – preparing the viewer to make assumptions about the race of the woman asking for the abortion: race-baiting being another of the anti-abortion movement’s favorite tricks.

And it’s no coincidence: yesterday the video is released; today Congress votes on legislation which would ban abortion based on the sex of a fetus, which threatens doctors with up to five years in prison if they perform such an abortion.  (Read Aimee Thorne-Thomsen’s blog on this legislation)

It’s by dividing and conquering – by getting us to judge other women’s abortions – that they chip away at abortion rights, passing restrictions for young people, bans after a certain point in the pregnancy, bans on certain reasons for the abortion. They invite us to distance ourselves from the abortions we personally don’t approve of, and shame us as monsters if we respond by saying we support all women’s right to decide if and when to end a pregnancy.

But we must always remember that their goal isn’t to prevent sex-selective abortions or 20 week abortions or “frivolous” abortions. It’s to ban all abortions. LiveAction’s videos are a sideshow, but with this week’s legislation and hundreds of bills pending in state legislatures, we can’t afford to just roll our eyes at anti-abortion tactics or keep quiet when the conversation would be unpleasant. We can’t afford to give them any ground at all – we must stand in solidarity with all women and activists and demand the right to safe and legal abortion.

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According to the International Labour Organisation, more than 600 000 children (Most of whom are girls) were victims of child trafficking in 2005.Most of these victims are girls who do not go to school or are school dropouts. Horizon Jeunesse (Youth Horizon), an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) based in Yaoundé (Cameroon’s capital city) claims that, about three million the Cameroonian children are working or being trafficked in conditions of near slavery (http://ipsnews.net/africa/nota.asp?idnews=34063).These children are often taken away from their parents by their relatives who promise to provide the children education and training but once in town these children are forced to prostitute, hawk and in most cases end up as street children.

Child trafficking in Cameroon is most rampant in its rural areas. Child trafficking like forced/premature marriages, child labour, massive rural exodus, high rate of school drop outs, drastic drop in agricultural productivity, high vulnerability to diseases due to poor sanitation and housing conditions and a high child mortality rate are results of the neglect and abandonment of rural areas by policy makers and are a consequence of the inadequacy of current policies for the fight against poverty, disease, and illiteracy in rural areas-when these even exist .This explains why parents of victims and the victims themselves are ready to pay any price to see greener pastures which they have been promised by human traffickers.

Summer holidays constitute the peak period for child trafficking in Cameroon. The month of May marks the end of the academic year in Cameroon and therefore the massive exodus of pupils and students from rural to urban areas in search of greener pastures. I am then not surprised that movement into major urban centers in Cameroon has scaled up in recent weeks.

In fact, I have noticed that, as years go by, the number of children leaving their villages to ‘work their school fees’, as this is referred to in Cameroon, is ever increasing while the average age of these children, who while on holiday, hawk, peddle, and carry out all sorts of activities that will enable them go back home with something with which to pay their school fees and buy their school needs, has sensibly reduced.

While I understand that agriculture is the main means of subsistence for a majority of people living in rural communities of Cameroon, and that the fact that agriculture is in crisis, has greatly contributed in making them more powerless and vulnerable to disease, and climate change, I am also completely opposed to the practice of using children as a source of revenue for the family. I am wounded in my soul whenever I find a child who carries a load which out weights him/her just because they are selling one thing or the other so that his/her family can survive.

Also, the fact that Sexual abuse and rape are on the rise during summer holidays in Cameroon is an indicator that with the desire to make their ends and those of their families meet comes exposure of these tender souls to horrible acts such as rape and other forms of sexual assaults. In fact it is no longer news in Cameroon when information that a rapist who, with the pretext of buying 2 pieces of Chewing Gum (costing less than 5 cents),lure these children to isolated areas or into their homes and sexually assault them.

Acts like those described above are not only criminal but destructive and wicked because of the trauma and long lasting negative effects they have on the reputation, self –esteem and on the sexual and reproductive health of the victims. While these despicable acts call for the toughest and harshest action against its perpetrators, prevention remains a better cure. Enough is enough! I am tired of seeing the future of the children of Cameroon given to rapists on a platter of Gold. Let’s be responsible enough to stop sacrificing the happiness of these children on an Alter of the ‘fight for survival’.

The government, parents, and all those involved in child trafficking should not ignore the heavy psychological and health burden that the enslavement of their children represents. Children are the future of our world and merit to be treated better. No degree of poverty, pain, and suffering should ever justify their enslavement. Vigilance of the government and civil society organisations has to be heightened at this moment for this summer holidays to be free of human trafficking and forced child labour. An abused child is not only simply abused; he/she is denied the right to happiness and is robbed of all dignity.

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Amplify has the stories you need to hear! With so many great contributors from all over the world, you definitely don’t want you to miss out on the top insightful and informative stories of the week. Check in each week for a list of must-read posts. Whether it’s a national story or a individual experience, these are the issues you care about!

May 20- May 26

Stats this week: 13 posts by 12 writers

Pieces of Me: Gay in the Rio Grand Valley- by JamesMLee

Inside this post:

I knew from a very early age I was gay. When I entered elementary, things became very clear to me. I wanted to hold other boys’ hands, I would give them flowers instead of punches, something felt different. At first, I think some adults were amused by this, although as time went on, I noticed a change in their reactions toward me, it was then I first realized I couldn’t "behave" that way.

“Toning It Down” Isn’t A Solution- by Amplify_Staff

Inside this post:

Ten reports of bullying, a group assault on one young person, and the result is that young person is expelled. No penalties for the bullies – they ran off while school police arrested Darnell.

Media Justice and Privacy? May It Exist?- by Media_Justice

Inside this post:

Women of Color’s bodies are always on display in various ways. The messages this sends is that folks have the right and privilege to speak on, examine, watch, and follow us. We are socialized into thinking this is okay because it is “normal” to do without really examining what it does to women and girls of Color. And when we speak on and up about our privacy, about this hyper-visibility and display we are not taken seriously, ignored, erased, and targeted for other forms of violence (i.e. name calling, defamation, threats, intimidation, and physical violence).

Thank you to everyone who posted a blog this week! You are part of what makes this community great!

~ Samantha
Community Editor

My post this week: Abstinence-Only Programs and Rape Culture: A Cartoon

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When i got the opportunity to join the Broward county youth council I was a little nervous because sex is such a taboo topic when it comes to youth. However i did feel a duty to advocate for comprehensive sexual education for our youth here in broward county florida. The trainings were amazing thatb why i have to shout out two great organizations to whom this wouldnt be possible. thoses organizations are Advocates for youth and Planned Parenthood of South florida of the treasure coast. Thank you all for the very informative trainings that i will keep forever. Also the young people in this council who gave great lectures at our meetings who rallied and just are amazing individual who’ve I enjoyed spending time with thanks cant wait for the rest of my journey with the Broward County Youth Council. LOVE, LIVE, LIFE :)

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