26 Jul With Rights come Responsibility
*Five young adults representing United Families International are currently attending the UN High Level Meeting on Youth in New York. This is the first in a series of posts written by these individuals telling of experiences and their insights.
By Faith Goimarac
One key phrase of the UN conference on youth is “sexual rights.” I have been in developing countries where basic rights are being violated, such as the right to freedom of speech, right to assemble, right to clean water, right to vote, etc. I had never thought much of sexual rights, but the consensus here is that sexual rights are some of the most vital rights there are, even “essential and a fundamental part of our humanity.”
The problem with sexual rights is when they begin to affect or even harm others. Whenever we push for a new right to be recognized, we must realize that with every right comes a responsibility. What no one seems to realize here is that their life is not only their own. Ones actions affect many others. We are free to choose our actions, but not
the consequences and not who is affected by these consequences.
For instance, International Planned Parenthood Federation’s (IPPF) booklet called “Girls Decide” for young women living with HIV says, ‘you have the right to the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual health.” This same booklet also explains that those living with HIV have the right to “decide if [emphasis added], when and how to disclose your HIV status.”
Say a young man living with HIV exercises his “right “ to not disclose his HIV status to one of his partners (all printed material here writes “partner” with a (s) at the end), and their method of protection fails. His right has just infected an innocent girl, taking away her right to health as HIV damages her immunity and most likely shortens her life.
Many here also agree that infecting a person with HIV should not be a crime, even though it is life-debilitating. Realizing that 76% of the people living with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa are female only emphasizes that those exercising such sexual rights are forgetting about those responsibilities attached.
Every such event or publication published by IPPF or similar agencies expresses how “loving you is part of sexuality,” “you have the right,” and imply that your health and happiness are most important. How will our society be after a few years of ignoring the responsibilities that come with rights? The responsibilities that, if ignored, take away the rights, happiness, and health of others, especially the most vulnerable?
The family is an “other-centered” institution, and the love of self at the center of the sexual rights talk will be the root of what destroys the family.