Monday, April 28, 2008
'Secondary Virgins' Back in the News
But when the 'abstinence only' hypocrites talk about 'secondary virginity' that is a bit too much. What a phrase! Trust the gang that gave us "extraordinary rendition" and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" to promote it.
- Has U.S. Abstinence Policy Failed ? (BBC News)
- US lawmakers are investigating whether to cut government funding for health education programmes that promote sexual abstinence until marriage.
- The move follows a report earlier this year from America's leading health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which revealed one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease.
Opponents of abstinence education say the approach ignores the fact that teenagers are sexually active and fails to give them accurate medical information or advice on safer sex.
"We get sex-ed classes in school and that should be where teens get the right information - but that isn't happening," says 15-year-old Mildred, from Arizona, who volunteers as a peer educator with the pro-choice organisation Planned Parenthood.
"They don't touch on subjects like sexuality, STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), birth control - it's not allowed because of abstinence-only education. It leaves you on a cliff-hanger - and a lot of teenagers become sexually active in their middle school years."
Planned Parenthood estimates that two thirds of teenagers will have experienced sexual intercourse by the time they leave school.
And with some 750,000 teenage pregnancies a year, America has one of the highest teen birth rates in the developed world.
"This national programme which has wasted $1.5bn (£750m) of tax money is a failure and our teens are paying the price," says Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood.
"We've been wasting money on programmes that don't work and we're seeing the consequences every single day."
State governments receive federal money they must match to fund abstinence programmes.
At least 17 states have opted out of the system and others have suspended funding while Congress investigates whether such programmes work.
Critics say there is no evidence that they delay sexual activity and teenagers who have taken a vow of virginity are less likely to use protection if they break their promise.
Roger Norman, a Texas lawyer, describes himself as being part of the religious right.
He runs an organization called Wonderful Days which does not receive government funding but teaches abstinence as part of the health curriculum in some local schools.
"I am convinced that abstinence is the only way for kids," he says. "You begin by teaching the consequences of bad behaviour and the benefits of proper behaviour and you do that in a way that a child can grasp.
Teenagers who do have sex before marriage are given another chance by becoming "secondary virgins".
"Of course, if you view virginity as number one, and you've slept with someone, of course it's going to be different and you can never go back - but that doesn't mean there's no tomorrow," explains Ashley.
"Every day is a new decision and abstinence is not one you make once. You're going to have to make this decision over and over again. So if you fail once, you get back up and you try again."
Odette: Do you believe in centralized government or states' rights ?
Odette: I just want to know the kind of guy I'm marrying.
Dennis: I'm starting to get the distinct impression you don't want to do this anymore."
From Sarah Kernochan's 1998 film "Strike"(also released as "All I Wanna Do")
- New Delhi — The Indian prime minister described the growing practice of aborting female fetuses as a “national shame” on Monday, and called for stricter enforcement of laws designed to prevent doctors from helping parents to get rid of unwanted unborn daughters. (NY Times April 29, 2008)