Posted on | December 6, 2012 by Rebecca Oas, Ph.D |
After the moderators of the ICPD Global Youth Forum presented their recommendations on the topic of “Families, youth-rights and well-being (including sexuality)”, there was time for a few questions. A young woman named Monica from Indonesia came forward and commented on the recommendations, which demanded unrestricted legal abortion and laws reflecting a “constantly evolving” definition of the family. “Not all the young people in my country of Indonesia agree with it,” she said, adding that “Abortion is not only about the mother – it’s about the young people, but it’s also about the baby, the rights of the baby, so when you guys talk about human rights, I am questioning about it.” Monica also pointed out the important role of religion in forming the basis for her country’s culture and government, given the largely negative view of religion put forth in the recommendations, as well as the conference in general.
As several audience members applauded her, moderator Ricardo Baruch thanked Monica for her comments and said that he didn’t think there was time to respond, glancing around anxiously for someone to throw him a lifeline. A fellow panelist suggested that someone from the audience might respond, and Ricardo offered the question to them, adding that the recommendations came from the delegates, not just the moderators.
Sarai from Ecuador, representing an organization that promotes access to abortion, responded with a statement translated by Ricardo: “We need to stop having this sort of unending discussion, because while we’re having these debates based on religious intolerance, there are a lot of young women who are dying around the world, and the main point that we should take into consideration is the rights perspective.” Many participants shouted and applauded in response.
This exchange was notable in that it provided a piece of evidence that the pro-life perspective was actually present at the youth forum, and not just an abstraction to be viewed as an obstacle in achieving the goals of the delegates. Monica should be commended for her bravery in speaking out in this space, the hostility of which is clearly visible in the recommendations which had been read mere minutes earlier. Thank you, Monica from Indonesia, for considering the rights of the youngest of our youth, many of whom are dying for want of recognition of their human rights.