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Sweden

Articles by Sweden

Young students get sex education from IPPF Sweden, RFSU
11 May 2017

Young asylum seekers need to know more about sex

Until Sweden closed its border last year huge numbers of immigrants were arriving from war-torn countries around the world. Between 2015 and 2016 more than 160,000 people sought asylum – over 35,000 of those were unaccompanied minors. Most from countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea and Iraq. According to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), many of them had suffered violence and persecution. HRW said about half were 15 or younger and arrived in their new country with complicated needs – often they had experienced trauma. Many of the young people had limited or no knowledge about sexual health. A recent report by the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society (MUCF) analysed sexual and reproductive health and rights among youth. Young, recently arrived immigrants were identified as particularly at risk. The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education in Sweden (RFSU), a member association of IPPF, has been trying to help fill the gap by providing sexual health lessons to young asylum seekers with great responses. Nineteen-year-old Zilan Karim from Kurdistan and 20-year-old Masume Ahmadi from Afghanistan have benefited from RFSU’s sex education classes at their school in Uppsala in eastern Sweden. Masume said: “In our home countries we’re supposed to have some sex education, but the teachers often tear those pages out of the biology books. The subject of sex is taboo.”  “When RFSU came to my school here in Uppsala I learned about menstruation, how one gets pregnant, and the myth of the hymen, things I didn't know before,” says Masume.  Zilan says: “It was also useful to learn about Swedish rights and rules. For example what to do if someone has sex with you against your will, and that you can have an abortion." Seventeen-year-old, Mahdi Rezaie who came to Sweden alone three years ago, and whose family fled from Afghanistan to Iran when he was 6, said: “I was surprised to learn that two men, or two women, can date each other in Sweden. In Iran homosexuality is punishable by death if discovered.”  Mahdi added: “The best part was to learn about having sex and how to protect oneself against STDs.” Kerstin Isaxon is an expert on comprehensive sexual education at RFSU. She works with educating staff and unaccompanied minors at group homes, as well as at high-school introductory Swedish programmes. In her view there is a great need for education about sex and relationships. She says: “These young people may not have been offered it in school, or their schooling may have been interrupted by war, poverty, persecution, or flight.” The research by MUCF shows that the level of education among professionals in this case staff at schools, SFI (Swedish for Immigrants), adult education and introductory Swedish classes generally ‘miss out’ on the opportunity to offer education on sex and relationships. But professionals agree that sex and relationship education for asylum seekers is essential. The demand is large but the resources to provide it appear scant. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL) says that various initiatives are underway in individual regions to, for example, provide education at group homes and free clinics, but it is hard to know who is in charge of the issue since nobody has stated a clear mission.  So what is the Swedish government doing?  In June 2016 the Minister for Children and the elderly, and Gender Equality, Åsa Regnér tasked the MUCF to develop a digital platform with information on health and gender equality. The target group was newly arrived and asylum-seeking children and youth, ages 13-20. The work on the website is yet to begin. Anna Westin from MUCF said a roadmap was being developed to help professionals speak to new arrivals about sexual health issues. She added that the idea was to start educating those in the field later this year. The government clearly sees this as an important issue but RFSU and some other civil society groups don't believe there is enough political will and want to see more money being invested by Sweden's political leaders. Ottar Magazine wanted to find out whose responsibility it was to ensure that refugees knew enough about sexual rights and health. The Minister of Public Health, Gabriel Wikström told Ottar: “The Swedish state has the overall responsibility to create good conditions for the reception of refugees.” He added that it was important that different sectors of society work together on this. “The situation has brought into focus the need for functioning cooperation, between state authorities, between the state, regions, and local authorities, as well as between the state and the nonprofit sector. There are some things we will never do as well as organizations in civil society,” says Mr Wikström. Back at the school in Uppsala where 18-year-old Daimon from Eritrea is also a student. He says that his home country and Sweden differ on the topic of sex in many aspects. He likes the freedom in Sweden but expresses surprise at certain things. For instance the Swedish law that criminalizes the purchase of sex workers, but not the work itself. “How can it be legal to sell sex, but not to buy it? That's like selling coffee but forbidding people to drink it,” he says. Daimon says that learning about sexual health has been vital for his integration into Swedish society. “It makes it easier for us to do things the right way.” This article was originally published by Swedish Ottar  Magazine #1 2017. Original text by Anna Knöfel Magnusson and photos by Marc Femenia.

Young refugees in Sweden. Credits: Otter Magazine
03 May 2017

Young immigrants in Sweden want to know more about sex

Many young immigrants arriving in Sweden have limited or no knowledge about sexual health. The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education in Sweden (RFSU), a member association of IPPF, has been working to help fill the gap by providing sexual health lessons to young asylum seekers with great responses.  Kerstin Isaxon is an expert on comprehensive sexual education at RFSU. She works with educating staff and unaccompanied minors at group homes, as well as at high-school introductory Swedish programmes. She says: “These young people may not have been offered it in school, or their schooling may have been interrupted by war, poverty, persecution, or flight." In her view there is a great need for education about sex and relationships.  REad their stories

Girls from Lesotho
02 March 2017

She Decides Conference: Making a stand for women and girls right to decide

Access to education, the right to make choices about your own body – these are things many of us take for granted. But the reality for many women and young girls in developing countries is very different. Denied rights to some very basic choices – such as how many children to have and when, whether to stay in school, and how to participate in their country’s economy. For some, this is about culture, custom, economics or just denial of basic human rights. For others it is as simple, yet life changing, as not having access to modern contraceptive methods. The She Decides Conference in Belgium today sees ministers, young leaders, civil society groups and policymakers – a real mixture of organizations gathered together with one key objective – trying to change the way action is taken on  women and girls human rights. This Conference is a seminal moment – a vital opportunity for Governments and NGOs to work collaboratively to address the challenges we face. "If we want the world to advance, we must ensure women's rights to decide. I want my daughter's to decide." Chad Min. Of Health #SheDecides pic.twitter.com/nN3zJPav7D — IPPF Global (@ippf) March 2, 2017 The She Decides initiative is not about abortion. It’s a fundraising initiative  for human rights. Access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and in particular family planning, is the foundation for gender equality, women's empowerment, and economic development for both women and men, wherever and whoever they are. This moment will kick-start the process of securing maximum political and financial support to ensure full access worldwide to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including family planning, so that the most vulnerable women and girls can exercise the right to decide about their own bodies and destiny.   The need has never been greater. Beatrice Akoth had never wanted or planned to have nine children, but she had no choice. Although the idea is incomprehensible for many of us, Beatrice, like millions of other women and girls, had no access to contraception when she desperately needed it. “When I was a young girl, I never thought I would have nine children. After each child, I got pregnant again, nine months later,” she said. This left her struggling to provide for her family, who all share a two-room mud shack on swampy ground on the outskirts of Kisumu, Kenya. No one had ever talked to her in any depth about family planning, and by the time the ninth child was born, 41-year-old Beatrice was unable to cope. “The children were my burden. I did not know who to turn to. But one day, out of the blue, I overheard a group of women animatedly chatting about family planning and where to access it,” she said.   There’s no doubt that if she had been able to get care sooner, her life would have been dramatically different. And Beatrice is far from alone. It doesn’t cost much to provide contraception or to safeguard rights, but we need political will and investment. This is why She Decides in Brussels comes in. We are at a crucial moment. As governments and those on the ground delivering services to protect women’s rights and tackle inequality. We know that sexual and reproductive health and rights are key to individual wellbeing. "When it comes to women's Rights, there's no North or South, it's a GLOBAL movement until #SheDecides" - T. Melesse @ippf pic.twitter.com/h7QMNIy3Lq — IPPF Global (@ippf) March 2, 2017 And in such company, we could convince ourselves that we have won this fight that our unanswerable case has triumphed. Sexual and reproductive health and rights services cover every aspects of people’s lives. We want to make sure there is continued support to avoid  unintended health consequences, especially for women living at the margins of society hardest – the poorest, disabled, the most remote and those under the age of twenty-five. No one should  be denied the lifesaving healthcare they need.  As a social movement working on these issues, we will survive this time. And it is heartening to see that with each setback in the fight for the health of women and girls, the response becomes stronger. That is why we are in Brussels today – because our determination to ensure that she really does decide has never been stronger.   "Providing girls with sexual and reproductive health&services I'm not doing them a favour: it's their right!" A. Dicko @ippf at #SheDecides pic.twitter.com/rUGU6pyk5l — IPPF Global (@ippf) March 2, 2017 WANT TO GET INVOLVED? SUBSCRIBE NOW TO GET UPDATES FROM IPPF SUPPORT OUR WORK WITH A DONATION

Riksförbundet för Sexuell Upplysning - Sweden

Founded in 1933, RFSU is a non-profit membership organization aiming to promote access to sexual and reproductive health and rights — both in Sweden and internationally.

RFSU has 16 local branches in Sweden and a sexual health clinic in Stockholm, also providing an invaluable source of learning for the organisation. In addition, we own a company that makes and sells condoms and wide range of products for sex, pleasure and health. To achieve our vision, of a world in which everyone is free to make decisions over their own bodies and sexuality, RFSU combines several strategies:

  • Expertise and evidence-based knowledge and information, clinical research and global studies on SRHR lay a foundation for a solid argument for SRHR.
  • Extensive experience in comprehensive sexuality education – guarantees the most pedagogical methods for strengthens SRHR and enhance public support for SRHR for all.
  • Global influence and local partnerships.

RFSU advocates and influences shaping the political agenda on gender equality (as well as SRHR) in Sweden and internationally. Much of this work is done with partners - for us, partnership is a fundamental way of working. We channel support to civil society organisations in a number of countries (Bolivia, Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, Georgia, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka) and with regional networks in Asia, Africa and Latin America. We also work with organisations and networks in Brussels, Geneva and New York to secure strong support for SRHR in international agreements, and to ensure their implementation.

 

Young students get sex education from IPPF Sweden, RFSU
11 May 2017

Young asylum seekers need to know more about sex

Until Sweden closed its border last year huge numbers of immigrants were arriving from war-torn countries around the world. Between 2015 and 2016 more than 160,000 people sought asylum – over 35,000 of those were unaccompanied minors. Most from countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea and Iraq. According to a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), many of them had suffered violence and persecution. HRW said about half were 15 or younger and arrived in their new country with complicated needs – often they had experienced trauma. Many of the young people had limited or no knowledge about sexual health. A recent report by the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society (MUCF) analysed sexual and reproductive health and rights among youth. Young, recently arrived immigrants were identified as particularly at risk. The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education in Sweden (RFSU), a member association of IPPF, has been trying to help fill the gap by providing sexual health lessons to young asylum seekers with great responses. Nineteen-year-old Zilan Karim from Kurdistan and 20-year-old Masume Ahmadi from Afghanistan have benefited from RFSU’s sex education classes at their school in Uppsala in eastern Sweden. Masume said: “In our home countries we’re supposed to have some sex education, but the teachers often tear those pages out of the biology books. The subject of sex is taboo.”  “When RFSU came to my school here in Uppsala I learned about menstruation, how one gets pregnant, and the myth of the hymen, things I didn't know before,” says Masume.  Zilan says: “It was also useful to learn about Swedish rights and rules. For example what to do if someone has sex with you against your will, and that you can have an abortion." Seventeen-year-old, Mahdi Rezaie who came to Sweden alone three years ago, and whose family fled from Afghanistan to Iran when he was 6, said: “I was surprised to learn that two men, or two women, can date each other in Sweden. In Iran homosexuality is punishable by death if discovered.”  Mahdi added: “The best part was to learn about having sex and how to protect oneself against STDs.” Kerstin Isaxon is an expert on comprehensive sexual education at RFSU. She works with educating staff and unaccompanied minors at group homes, as well as at high-school introductory Swedish programmes. In her view there is a great need for education about sex and relationships. She says: “These young people may not have been offered it in school, or their schooling may have been interrupted by war, poverty, persecution, or flight.” The research by MUCF shows that the level of education among professionals in this case staff at schools, SFI (Swedish for Immigrants), adult education and introductory Swedish classes generally ‘miss out’ on the opportunity to offer education on sex and relationships. But professionals agree that sex and relationship education for asylum seekers is essential. The demand is large but the resources to provide it appear scant. The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL) says that various initiatives are underway in individual regions to, for example, provide education at group homes and free clinics, but it is hard to know who is in charge of the issue since nobody has stated a clear mission.  So what is the Swedish government doing?  In June 2016 the Minister for Children and the elderly, and Gender Equality, Åsa Regnér tasked the MUCF to develop a digital platform with information on health and gender equality. The target group was newly arrived and asylum-seeking children and youth, ages 13-20. The work on the website is yet to begin. Anna Westin from MUCF said a roadmap was being developed to help professionals speak to new arrivals about sexual health issues. She added that the idea was to start educating those in the field later this year. The government clearly sees this as an important issue but RFSU and some other civil society groups don't believe there is enough political will and want to see more money being invested by Sweden's political leaders. Ottar Magazine wanted to find out whose responsibility it was to ensure that refugees knew enough about sexual rights and health. The Minister of Public Health, Gabriel Wikström told Ottar: “The Swedish state has the overall responsibility to create good conditions for the reception of refugees.” He added that it was important that different sectors of society work together on this. “The situation has brought into focus the need for functioning cooperation, between state authorities, between the state, regions, and local authorities, as well as between the state and the nonprofit sector. There are some things we will never do as well as organizations in civil society,” says Mr Wikström. Back at the school in Uppsala where 18-year-old Daimon from Eritrea is also a student. He says that his home country and Sweden differ on the topic of sex in many aspects. He likes the freedom in Sweden but expresses surprise at certain things. For instance the Swedish law that criminalizes the purchase of sex workers, but not the work itself. “How can it be legal to sell sex, but not to buy it? That's like selling coffee but forbidding people to drink it,” he says. Daimon says that learning about sexual health has been vital for his integration into Swedish society. “It makes it easier for us to do things the right way.” This article was originally published by Swedish Ottar  Magazine #1 2017. Original text by Anna Knöfel Magnusson and photos by Marc Femenia.

Young refugees in Sweden. Credits: Otter Magazine
03 May 2017

Young immigrants in Sweden want to know more about sex

Many young immigrants arriving in Sweden have limited or no knowledge about sexual health. The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education in Sweden (RFSU), a member association of IPPF, has been working to help fill the gap by providing sexual health lessons to young asylum seekers with great responses.  Kerstin Isaxon is an expert on comprehensive sexual education at RFSU. She works with educating staff and unaccompanied minors at group homes, as well as at high-school introductory Swedish programmes. She says: “These young people may not have been offered it in school, or their schooling may have been interrupted by war, poverty, persecution, or flight." In her view there is a great need for education about sex and relationships.  REad their stories

Girls from Lesotho
02 March 2017

She Decides Conference: Making a stand for women and girls right to decide

Access to education, the right to make choices about your own body – these are things many of us take for granted. But the reality for many women and young girls in developing countries is very different. Denied rights to some very basic choices – such as how many children to have and when, whether to stay in school, and how to participate in their country’s economy. For some, this is about culture, custom, economics or just denial of basic human rights. For others it is as simple, yet life changing, as not having access to modern contraceptive methods. The She Decides Conference in Belgium today sees ministers, young leaders, civil society groups and policymakers – a real mixture of organizations gathered together with one key objective – trying to change the way action is taken on  women and girls human rights. This Conference is a seminal moment – a vital opportunity for Governments and NGOs to work collaboratively to address the challenges we face. "If we want the world to advance, we must ensure women's rights to decide. I want my daughter's to decide." Chad Min. Of Health #SheDecides pic.twitter.com/nN3zJPav7D — IPPF Global (@ippf) March 2, 2017 The She Decides initiative is not about abortion. It’s a fundraising initiative  for human rights. Access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, and in particular family planning, is the foundation for gender equality, women's empowerment, and economic development for both women and men, wherever and whoever they are. This moment will kick-start the process of securing maximum political and financial support to ensure full access worldwide to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including family planning, so that the most vulnerable women and girls can exercise the right to decide about their own bodies and destiny.   The need has never been greater. Beatrice Akoth had never wanted or planned to have nine children, but she had no choice. Although the idea is incomprehensible for many of us, Beatrice, like millions of other women and girls, had no access to contraception when she desperately needed it. “When I was a young girl, I never thought I would have nine children. After each child, I got pregnant again, nine months later,” she said. This left her struggling to provide for her family, who all share a two-room mud shack on swampy ground on the outskirts of Kisumu, Kenya. No one had ever talked to her in any depth about family planning, and by the time the ninth child was born, 41-year-old Beatrice was unable to cope. “The children were my burden. I did not know who to turn to. But one day, out of the blue, I overheard a group of women animatedly chatting about family planning and where to access it,” she said.   There’s no doubt that if she had been able to get care sooner, her life would have been dramatically different. And Beatrice is far from alone. It doesn’t cost much to provide contraception or to safeguard rights, but we need political will and investment. This is why She Decides in Brussels comes in. We are at a crucial moment. As governments and those on the ground delivering services to protect women’s rights and tackle inequality. We know that sexual and reproductive health and rights are key to individual wellbeing. "When it comes to women's Rights, there's no North or South, it's a GLOBAL movement until #SheDecides" - T. Melesse @ippf pic.twitter.com/h7QMNIy3Lq — IPPF Global (@ippf) March 2, 2017 And in such company, we could convince ourselves that we have won this fight that our unanswerable case has triumphed. Sexual and reproductive health and rights services cover every aspects of people’s lives. We want to make sure there is continued support to avoid  unintended health consequences, especially for women living at the margins of society hardest – the poorest, disabled, the most remote and those under the age of twenty-five. No one should  be denied the lifesaving healthcare they need.  As a social movement working on these issues, we will survive this time. And it is heartening to see that with each setback in the fight for the health of women and girls, the response becomes stronger. That is why we are in Brussels today – because our determination to ensure that she really does decide has never been stronger.   "Providing girls with sexual and reproductive health&services I'm not doing them a favour: it's their right!" A. Dicko @ippf at #SheDecides pic.twitter.com/rUGU6pyk5l — IPPF Global (@ippf) March 2, 2017 WANT TO GET INVOLVED? SUBSCRIBE NOW TO GET UPDATES FROM IPPF SUPPORT OUR WORK WITH A DONATION

Riksförbundet för Sexuell Upplysning - Sweden

Founded in 1933, RFSU is a non-profit membership organization aiming to promote access to sexual and reproductive health and rights — both in Sweden and internationally.

RFSU has 16 local branches in Sweden and a sexual health clinic in Stockholm, also providing an invaluable source of learning for the organisation. In addition, we own a company that makes and sells condoms and wide range of products for sex, pleasure and health. To achieve our vision, of a world in which everyone is free to make decisions over their own bodies and sexuality, RFSU combines several strategies:

  • Expertise and evidence-based knowledge and information, clinical research and global studies on SRHR lay a foundation for a solid argument for SRHR.
  • Extensive experience in comprehensive sexuality education – guarantees the most pedagogical methods for strengthens SRHR and enhance public support for SRHR for all.
  • Global influence and local partnerships.

RFSU advocates and influences shaping the political agenda on gender equality (as well as SRHR) in Sweden and internationally. Much of this work is done with partners - for us, partnership is a fundamental way of working. We channel support to civil society organisations in a number of countries (Bolivia, Kenya, Ghana, Liberia, Georgia, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka) and with regional networks in Asia, Africa and Latin America. We also work with organisations and networks in Brussels, Geneva and New York to secure strong support for SRHR in international agreements, and to ensure their implementation.