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Volume 14, Number 19
October 5, 2008

opinion

Also in this section:
Editorial, Casual disenfranchisement and Imported hoodlums
Leis, Panama needs a good sex law
Bernal, The mayor's office and the quality of urban life
Jackson, The triumphs and tribulations of the Bolivarian movement
Human Rights Watch, Venezuela expels an HRW delegation
Committee to Protect Journalists, The United States denies Cuban journalists visas
Abeyta, Zelaya making waves in Honduras
Sánchez, Latin America's militaries and its political processes
Weisbrot, Time for another look at the "free trade" agreements
Obama, The same path
McCain, Interview with the Des Moines Register
Sanders, Let the rich bail them out
Baker, Another low point in US politics
Pilgrim, The US economic bailout and the Caribbean
Weise, The Colombian in me
Rodriguez, The financial fall out
Sirias, A matter of respect
Letters to the editor

A necessary law
by Raúl Leis --- raulleisr@hotmail.com

Five of every thousand minors came before the juvenile courts in 2007 in processes seeking to protect them from maltreatment, abandonment, neglect, sexual abuse, threats or denial or abuse of their rights.

These courts received cases for the protection of 5,515 children and adolescents, of which 28 percent were about physical abuse, 11 percent were about sexual abuse, 37 percent were situations of denial or abuse of rights or threats of such, and 23 percent involved victims of abandonment or neglect.

Of all the children and adolescents in these protection cases, 56.2 percent were female and 42.7 percent male (the rest being unspecified in the record). Seventeen percent of these were under six years of age, 14 percent between 6 and 10, 49 percent were over 10 and the records in the rest of the cases (16 percent) didn't specify the minor's age. Of these 56.5 percent were living with their single mothers, 19 percent with both parents, 7.1 percent with their single fathers and 9 percent with some other relative.

These figures reaffirm the necessity for a comprehensive law that guarantees the population access to sexual and reproductive health services. We need a law for all of society, but in direct relation to the role of women, one that promotes and is oriented toward a wholesome concept of sexuality; which gives voice to the voiceless and is empowered by people's active participation by sharing attitudes, beliefs and values with respect to identity, relationships and intimacy; which covers all phases of life without excluding the biological socio-cultural, psychological and spiritual dimensions of sexuality.

The affirmation of these rights should serve as a base for the positive and healthy construction of the sexual dimension of our lives, supporting respectful and responsible behavior, free of exploitation and violence, and which also involves mothers and fathers and other persons taking care of kids.

I think that we as a country should rise above any fundamentalism or ignorance and have a law that leads to the establishment of legal norms that guarantee the human rights of the Panamanian people to full enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health, one that facilitates the efficient and effective execution of all the public policies aimed at raising the level of public health as part of the effort to reach the Millennium Goals.

The different social, economic and political actors, including the communications media, should contribute to the opening of access to the construction of sexual citizenship that's defined by a consciousness of sexual and reproductive human rights, the availability of services and resources and means of access to these, public participation, the right to choose, and recognition and understanding of the diversity of our lives.

Also in this section:
Editorial, Casual disenfranchisement and Imported hoodlums
Leis, Panama needs a good sex law
Bernal, The mayor's office and the quality of urban life
Jackson, The triumphs and tribulations of the Bolivarian movement
Human Rights Watch, Venezuela expels an HRW delegation
Committee to Protect Journalists, The United States denies Cuban journalists visas
Abeyta, Zelaya making waves in Honduras
Sánchez, Latin America's militaries and its political processes
Weisbrot, Time for another look at the "free trade" agreements
Obama, The same path
McCain, Interview with the Des Moines Register
Sanders, Let the rich bail them out
Baker, Another low point in US politics
Pilgrim, The US economic bailout and the Caribbean
Weise, The Colombian in me
Rodriguez, The financial fall out
Sirias, A matter of respect
Letters to the editor

 
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