Survey Studies Sexual Health of Bogota’s Young People

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Survey Studies Sexual Health of Bogota’s Young People

Angela Castellanos

A survey of youth in Bogota found most are making autonomous, independent decisions about their sexual lives.

Bogota’s young people are not invisible to the government of the Colombian capital.

The Secretaría
de Integración Social del Distrito
, the governmental body of Bogota, along with the Fundación Restrepo Barco, a non-for-profit organization, recently completed a study entitled "Promotion of Sexual and Reproductive Rights among the Youth of Bogota," which involved 11,000 young people.

The project surveyed the sexual and reproductive practices and behaviors of Bogota’s young people and provided educational workshops. Its findings revealed good and
bad news.

The survey was given to 3,000 men
and women between 12 and 20 years old, during the first workshop of
the project implementation, so the knowledge gained over the
project did not affected their answers.

Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.

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The good news is that young people are making more autonomous decisions regarding their sexual lives. How can we conclude this? The main reason for their
first sexual relation is "love" (40.7%), followed by "desire"
(30.1%). Few stated that their first relation occurred as a result
of boy/girlfriend’s pressure (1.4%), or a friend’s pressure (0.8%).

These conclusions were supported by their
responses to the question "With whom you have your first sexual relation?"
"With my girl/boy friend" (61.7%), and "with a friend" (20.5%).

On the other hand, the main reason given
by the most of those who have not yet started their sexual lives is
that they "prefer to became adults first" (27%); followed by
"I am not ready for sexual relations" (22.5%), and "I do not want
to take a risk of pregnancy" (23% of men and 19% of women).
Religious or cultural codes are not playing an important role anymore
– just 3.8% stated as principal reason "my values and believes do
not allow me to."

Most of the interviewed, 76% of men
and 66% of women, have already started their sexual lives, although
the "ideal" starting age stated by the majority is in the rank between
15 and 18 years old. On piece of data of conern is that 7.5% of men and 4.5%
of women consider that the "ideal" age is between 10 and 14 years
old. For the Secretaría de Integración Social this is worrisome because it could lead to increase the number of pregnancies at this

The bad news is that young people are confused about the functions of contraceptive methods. In fact,
66.5% answered yes to the question "Can a contraceptive method can prevent
a sexual transmitted disease?"

For the governmental body in charge
of the survey, this finding highlights the need to disseminate
clearer messages about contraception, and to offer better counseling services
to the youth.

Another piece of bad news is that just 35% of
the people interviewed said they know what sexual and reproductive
rights are. For the Secretaría, this is a low percentage considering that
the survey was applied to young students. Moreover, less than 11% expressed
their interest for such rights.

This data revealed the urgency of disseminating
and educating on sexual and reproductive rights, in such a way that
adolescents and young women and men are able to make use of such
rights, which are, after all, human rights.

Along with sexual and reproductive rights,
other subjects not interesting for the young interviewed are affection,
sexual organs, contraceptive methods, and sexual diversity.
HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy were the most
interesting topics for them.

It is obvious that important subjects for
interpersonal relations based in human and sexual rights, such sexual
and reproductive rights, affection and sexual diversity, need to be
inserted in the educational and communicational agenda addressed to
young people.

Regarding sexual diversity, the survey
revealed that the heterosexual orientation still dominant for the young
people of Bogota. Nevertheless, 2.5% of men and 0.4% of women expressed
their homosexuality, whereas 1.7% affirmed that they had had sexual relations
with both sexes.