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The reproductive rights of adolescents : a tool for health and empowerment

CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
September 2008

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This briefing paper outlines the general framework of adolescents’ reproductive and sexual rights. It addresses core concerns for adolescents rights and discusses governments’ legal duties to address those concerns. The areas of focus are sexuality education; access to confidential health care; child marriage and lack of educational opportunity; sexual violence; and female genital mutilation. The promotion of adolescent health and autonomy are considered primary goals for advocates and lawmakers

The changing context of sexual initiation in sub-Saharan Africa

MENSCH, Barbara S
GRANT, Monica J
BLANC, Ann K
November 2005

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During the past 20 years, substantial reductions have occurred in the proportion of young women who report marrying as teenagers in sub-Saharan Africa. An oft-stated consequence of a delay in age at marriage is a rise in the proportion of young women who engage in premarital sex. This paper investigates the links between changing age at marriage and premarital sexual behavior in 27 sub-Saharan African countries in which Demographic and Health Surveys were conducted between 1994 and 2003. Using multiple-decrement life tables to examine the competing risks of premarital sex and marriage without prior sexual experience, we answer the largely unaddressed question of how reductions in the prevalence of early marriage have affected the likelihood of initiating premarital sex. Our analysis reveals that although the age of first sexual activity has either remained the same or increased, a shift in the context of sexual debut from marriage to before marriage has taken place in many countries. We assess whether the increase in the proportion of young women who report premarital sex is influenced by an increase in exposure resulting from delayed marriage or by an increase in the rate of premarital sex. The evidence on this point is mixed; in some settings greater exposure explains more of the increase, whereas in others an increased rate of premarital sex dominates

Trends in the timing of first marriage among men and women in the developing world

MENSCH, Barbara S
SINGH, Susheela
CASTERLINE, John B
August 2005

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The timing of first union merits investigation not only because of the close temporal link between marriage and the onset of childbearing, but also because the age when men and women marry has implications for the organization of family life and for gender relations within society. This paper begins by reviewing the contributions of various social science disciplines to an understanding of the timing of marriage. Using current status data from 73 countries provided by the United Nations Population Division and retrospective data from 52 Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 1990 and 2001, we then examine recent trends in the timing of first marriage or union for men and women in the developing world. With the exception of South America for both sexes and South and Southeast Asia for men, substantial declines have occurred in the proportion of young men and women who are married. Given the differentials in the timing of marriage by educational attainment and residence, we assess whether the decline in the proportion of young people who are married is related to increases in schooling and urbanization. Expansion of schooling for women has had some impact, but a considerable portion of the reduction in early marriage is not explained by changes in levels of education. We consider other factors that might account for the increase in age at marriage. Finally, we review what is known about the consequences of changing age at marriage with a particular focus on risk of HIV infection.

Youth infonet

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Youth InfoNet is a one-stop electronic source for new publications and information on youth reproductive health and HIV prevention, presented in two parts: Programme Resources. Summaries of tools, curricula, programme reports, unpublished research findings, and other items that may be useful for youth programming. Most items are available online and links to those are included with the summaries; Research Articles. Summaries of peer-reviewed research papers published in the last month on developing country research
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