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Youths call for lower age of consent, consultation on abortion

During a session of the National Youth Parliament, members of the ‘Party of Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights’ said that sexuality should not remain a taboo subject

yannick_pace
Yannick Pace
13 September 2017, 8:03pm
A group of youths have proposed that the age of sexual consent be lowered from 18 to 16 and that the country have a proper consultation on abortion, which they insisted should no longer remain a taboo subject.

The youths, aged between 19 and 35, made their proposals during a session of the National Youth Parliament. They included suggestions on sexual health education and awareness, mental health issues related to sexuality, sperm banks, abortion, embryo freezing, IVF and surrogacy.  

“We believe that abortion should no longer remain a taboo subject,” wrote the youths. “We believe there should be room for consultation and discussion especially in light of the fact that every year, several Maltese women are forced to have abortions abroad or by using unsafe methods.”

Also tied to the subject of abortion, the Party of Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights (PSH) called on the government to ban The Silent Scream, a controversial film from 1984 which is commonly shown to students in Maltese schools.

“This video is being shown to 14-year-olds who are being influenced by false content,” they said. “The government should therefore stop schools and other organisations in Malta from showing this video because of its graphic content and incorrect information.”

On the issue of the age of sexual consent in Malta, which is currently 18 years of age, the PSH insisted that this should be lowered to 16.

They said that “many youths younger than 18 are sexually active” and that the lowering of the age of consent would ultimately result in them using contraceptives as well as them getting more regular check-ups, “since they would no longer feel they are breaking the law”.

The morning-after pill was recently made available on the local market, however the students said that its introduction was not accompanied by the necessary educational campaign on its effects.

“Many young women do not have enough information about this pill. We believe that there should be necessary training in schools, as well as an obligation by pharmacists to explain how and when it should be taken,” they said.

The report from the parliamentary session includes over 30 other proposals including calls for changes in attitudes towards sex, more educational campaigns that went “beyond posters in bathrooms”, more information on contraceptives and the services offered by the GU clinic as well has the availability of condom machines in post-secondary schools and the distribution of free condoms in areas commonly frequented by youths.

Moreover, there were calls for the government to introduce sperm banks and the option of surrogacy for those who are unable to have children.

Survey results

A survey was also conducted among 182 youths aged between 14 and 35, which asked respondents a number of questions related to sexual health. The most interesting findings from the survey were:

72% believed there wasn’t enough education about contraceptives

72% felt that government should provide IVF services

50.8% did not agree with lowering the age of consent

66.5% did not agree with the introduction of abortion, with most believing it was tantamount to killing a baby

70.4% were in favour of the opening of sperm banks

 

yannick_pace
Yannick joined MaltaToday as a journalist in 2016. His main areas of interest are politics...