Being young in Paraguay in the era of Fake News
Mirta Moragas Mereles
Photo credit: Somos Pytyvõhara
In Paraguay, every day on average two girls between 10 and 14 give birth. According to official data, at least six children are victims of sexual abuse taking place in their immediate environment. Abortion is penalized with the sole exception of risk to life. The State does not have a comprehensive sex education policy, and even further in 2017, the Ministry of Education prohibited the gender theory in education. Additionally, Paraguay is one of the few countries in the region that does not have comprehensive anti-discrimination policies or a law against all forms of discrimination.
What the State does allow, is Evangelical Churches entering public schools to provide false information about sexuality. These events take place in the schools during class hours, parents are not previously informed, and students do not have the option to opt-out. In the talks to the students, they affirm that “the condom does not prevent HIV” and that being gay or lesbian is a “disease that can be cured.” The ban on gender in education made it so that talking about gender has become a taboo subject in the classroom.
In the Fake News era, State decisions are very seriously affecting children, who have no tools to recognize and report abuse. To face this, students and youth organizations have begun to organize their own training spaces with rights and gender focus. They are also coordinating demonstrations urging for a comprehensive sexual education policy. These young people, who have been born after the fall of the Paraguayan dictatorship that lasted 35 years (1954-1989) no longer share the fear from past generations. The youth is showing that they will not be complacent towards a State that ignores them and does not address their concerns. As adults, our challenge is to live up to what is necessary.