Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Remedy

Today marks the last day of documentary photographer Cristina Luisa Sevilla's photo exhibit, "Batang Ina," in the Legislative building of the Quezon City Hall. I read about it in the Sunday Inquirer Magazine.

The exhibit is a photo-documentary on--you guessed it--young moms, or women (rather, girls) who've borne kids in their teens. Sevilla says of her work: "As a documentary photographer, I am drawn to the complex lives that these young mothers lead. These children wake up one day to find that they are no longer children. Their childhood, the time of their lives when they should play and enjoy their youth, is suddenly altered by pregnancy. They are catapulted to adulthood with tremendous force, and they must endure it to lead bearable lives.”

Such exhibits should serve as a call for many of us to take action. However, the photographer proposes one that isn't exactly what I had in mind: "While doing this documentary, what I learned is that reality is even more astounding. You can walk into any poor community and find an overabundance of child mothers. Most of these girls have never seen a condom or know what it is for. Most girls are unaware of protecting themselves. Once pregnant, most will give up their studies, work and worse—any hope that they will ever get out of poverty. Most will bear another child and another and another.”

Contraceptives, again? It seems to be the easy answer to everything. But if it were, there wouldn't be this. The people who sell contraceptives always do a word dance, because that's how they sell.

Here's a fact: Contraceptives don't work 100%.
Here's a fact that follows: Sex education centered on "how to protect yourself" is a waste of time.

The fault in this sex education system is not its purpose to educate the youth--which is actually a good cause--but the approach. Do teach the kids about modesty, abstinence and can even do a spillover lesson on marriage and family while you're at it. But don't teach them how to use condoms, pills and Baby Killing 101. It's not so much that the youth should remain ignorant of these things; it's the underlying message you give them when you provide them with these options. It's like saying it's okay to do it as long as you don't "suffer the consequences."

More than sex ed, we need "love ed"--formation of the youth through the loving guidance of parents, relatives and mentors on matters of the body and matters of the heart.

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