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Inequalities, social inclusion and rights Dear conference participants! I’m honored to give this intervention speech as a youth delegate and want to highlight major recommendations from Regional Youth Forum in Istanbul, which recently gathered young activists across the region. First of all, we are NOT a homogeneous group, rather we are very different and diverse from sometimes extremely contrasting social and cultural backgrounds, educational levels and economic status. Among us there are many young people, who suffer everyday humiliations, injustice, discrimination and violence from their friends, families, neighbours, classmates, local authorities and state institutions. These extremely vulnerable and marginalized youth groups include young people and adolescents: - with disabilities, - with low socioeconomic status, - young people with diverse SOGIE, - from ethnic minorities, indigenous/first nations and travelling communities, including Roma, - living in urban areas, - living with HIV/AIDS, and also - young drug users, - young sex workers, - out of school, - young migrants and refugees, Our needs and realities intersect and overlap. For example, I have a young transgender friend with a disability from a small city Osh in Kyrgyzstan, who, due to stigma and discrimination, can’t access education and health services. She lost her mom - who was trying to protect her child from a transphobic person and was killed by him. Many other people experience stigma, discrimination or violence, or are violently killed, in the region when states fail to respect our rights. It’s essential, therefore, that our governments respect our diversities, by recognizing our multiple needs and realities in rights-based laws, policies and programmes. The special attention should be also paid for young human rights defenders, who advocate and protect the rights often in unsafe environments with corrosive national regulations, including intimidation and unlawful detention. In our region there are still thousands of cases when human rights of young people are violated and often violence is justified on the basis of cultural, traditional and religious values and practices. The resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2012 calls for “promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind.” This ignores the dynamic nature of traditional practice, undermines decades of rights-

respecting progress, and allows countries to use traditional values as a tool of oppression and structural violence. We want to be clear: we respect our cultural, traditional and religious values, but they should not contradict our basic human rights. Therefore, it’s very crucial that Governments harmonize their national laws with the requirements of ratified international human rights conventions and implement effective monitoring and accountability mechanisms to ensure young people can report, and seek remedies and redress. We call for recognition of our sexual rights as human rights. This includes our right to a safe, satisfying and pleasurable sex life; to make informed decisions regarding our bodies, our bodily integrity and our freedom to decide IF and WHEN to have children. It also includes removal of: - mandatory and coercive HIV, STI, and pregnancy testing, - mandatory waiting periods for abortion services, - requirements for age of consent for medical services, and - parental and spousal notification and consent. Additionally, governments should implement appropriate anti-discrimination mechanisms through which incidences of discrimination, hate crime and coercion can be reported and addressed. To ensure the work of such mechanisms governments, civil society and UN agencies must provide rights-based sensitization trainings for law enforcement, medical professionals, media practitioners and other stakeholders. Criminalization of sex workers, PLHIV and people with diverse SOGIE fuels and fosters violence against them; hinders ability to maintain their physical, sexual and reproductive health; marginalizes and socially isolates them; and fosters discriminatory practices against them. That is why decriminalization of abortion, sex work, HIV-status, SOGIE is crucial for securing human rights of the most vulnerable young people. Governments must eliminate sexual and gender-based violence, early and forced marriage, domestic violence, marital rape, other forms of violence, with particular attention to ensuring the right of adolescent girls and young women to safety and bodily integrity. These laws must be supported by policies and programmes focused on prevention of violence and guaranteeing access to justice for victims of violence. Our central recommendation is that Governments integrate a human rights-based approach to all laws, policies and programmes, particularly population and health-related policies and programmes, to ensure that our dreams are fulfilled. Thank you

UNECE Regional ICPDBeyond2014 Conference: Youth Intervention Inequalities, Social inclusion & Rights  

UNECE Regional ICPD Beyond 2014 Conference: Enabling Choices - Population Priorities for the 21st Century Youth Intervention: Inequalities...

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