Mexico City, Mexico – On International Youth Day - every year on August 12th - Mexico City’s Chief of Government, Miguel Ángel Mancera, launched a new campaign, titled "Sex with Responsibility," to distribute one million sex-education books and up to 20 million condoms every year.
Armando Ahued Ortega, Health Department Secretary for the Mexican capital, explained the city was taking these measures because the age of initiation to sexual activity has dropped significantly in the past years.
"In Mexico City the average age in which young people start sexual activity is lower that 15. Thirty-six in every thousand pregnant women are teenagers. From January to July of 2013 we have tended to 19,646 births in which the mothers were between 10 and 19 years old; 598 of those were 10 to 14 years old," said the secretary.
As well, from January to June this year, at least 1,928 new cases of infections related to STDs have been reported in men and women between 10 and 19 years of age.
Mancera’s leftist government has addressed its campaign to the more than 2.3 million young people living in Mexico City. The sex ed book will be given to the youth, starting from grades five and six (8 to 10 years of age.)
The association Sexo Seguro, or "Safe Sex," a civil organization made up of bio-ethics experts, criticized the materials, saying that the sex-ed book "promotes the initiation of sexual relationships at an early age, the use of the condom as the ‘best’ way to prevent STDs, the consumption of hormonal bombs in underage women, abortion in adolescents, and high-risk sexual practices like anal sex."
During the campaign, 617,500 educational brochures containing information about STDs and contraceptive methods will also be distributed in what Ahued Ortega called a "wholeness of attention". The use of condoms will be promoted with the slogan, "Use it, we give it to you."
The Health Secretary, Mara Robles Villaseñor, said that "the capital’s administration is convinced of the need to give scientific and lay education so that young people have the freedom to choose."
However, other governments have learned the hard way that greater access to contraceptive methods doesn’t necessarily translate into a decrease in teenager pregnancy rates.
In 1999, the UK government launched a similar campaign. Since then, almost $500 million have been invested in the program. Ten years later, in 2009, the London newspaper Daily Mail reported teen pregnancy rates were higher than in 1995, and that the number of abortions had also increased.Sexo Seguro, through a blog in the liberal newspaper El Universal, slammed the Mexico City government’s campaign. "The capital’s government is once more betting on the wrong program," they wrote, "believing that giving away condoms as if they were balloons, and promoting abortion as another contraceptive method, they will be able to resolve an issue that needs an education in love, responsibility, commitment, fidelity, and the value of waiting; only in this way can young people grasp the transcendence of sexuality in their lives, live it fully, and dignify themselves as persons."a