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Document Abstract
Published: 2013

Young people and the law in Asia and the Pacific: a review of laws and policies affecting young people's access to sexual and reproductive health and HIV services

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The Asia-Pacific region is home to the largest number of young people aged 10-24 globally, and the largest cohort of young people in the history of the world. While today’s generation of young people in the region are generally healthier and better educated than in the past, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and HIV are often-overlooked aspects of their well-being.

This study reviews the impact of laws and policies on young people’s access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and HIV services in the Asia-Pacific region. It analyses over 400 key legal and policy documents from 32 Asia-Pacific countries. Focus group discussions with young people were also undertaken to elicit their views and experiences in accessing SRH and HIV services, including on issues such as age of consent, age and marriage requirements for services, and attitudes of service providers.

The report finds that restrictive laws can be a significant barrier to access to sexual and reproductive health services for young people. Very few countries have taken legal steps to clarify the health rights of young people, and this creates particular problems in the sensitive areas of HIV, sexual health and reproductive health.

The report offers recommendations on steps that can be taken to address challenges keeping young people from accessing essential health and information services. These cover legal reforms, changes in law enforcement practices and the greater inclusion of young people’s voices in drafting policy related to SRH and HIV services.

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J. Godwin

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