LAHORE (PR)– Only 29% girls and 41% boys have access to correct information about puberty and hygiene in Pakistan. The lack of reliable information is shaping behavior and practices of majority of the youth who do not have skills and confidence to turn knowledge into decision-making. In order to raise awareness on these issues, address the physical and emotional challenges of adolescents and suggest ways to handle them, a mass awareness and advocacy campaign on reproductive health rights of Pakistani youth named ‘HAYAT’ was launched here on Thursday by LifeLine.

Addressing a press conference, Chief Executive of LifeLine Omer Aftab said that the multimedia campaign will disseminate messages through TV, radio, community theatre, outdoor and musical events. Aftab said that it is worthwhile to mention here that our religion discusses adulthood through Quran and Sunnah to teach right practices. We have consulted a large number of religious scholars from three sects in this regard who have further educated us on the religious aspect of these matters.

Highlighting the attitude of parents, Aftab held that there are parents who for various reasons, do not want to answer to questions relating to psychological and physiological issues and hence the project also targets the caretakers (parents and teachers) and motivate them to discuss these issues with their children/students without any inhibition so that the youth may not indulge in self exploration of information out of their natural urge. The emotional and physical changes taking place during adolescence, he added, play an important role in forming the personality traits of the youth as the remaining years of life merely become reflection of those traits.

Underlining the importance of acquiring proper information and guidance on the subject, he feared absence of proper information and guidance or reluctance to share any such information may lead to self-deduced and half-baked facts that may develop certain fallacies, far removed from reality and may in some cases, lead to exploitation.

Omer Aftab also dispelled false impressions that have nothing to do with religion but centuries old rites and customs of this region. “Our religion does not forbid us from discussing or imparting proper guidance to the children on these sensitive issues,” he said.

The group plans to hold another press conference on 27th November in Islamabad.