November 20, 2017
Adolescents face a myriad of threats to their right to health including violence, sexual assault, exploitation, trafficking, and harmful traditional practices. At the same time, they face multiple barriers to health services, including restrictive laws, unavailability of contraception or safe abortions; failure to ensure privacy and confidentiality; judgemental service provision, and discrimination. Our volunteer Tara Ornstein wrote an article about adolescents’ right to health, explaining what the issues are and what health professionals can do to safeguard adolescents’ health and rights.
Some of the risks adolescents are exposed to are discussed in more detail. These are: violence, migration, discrimination, economic exploitation, and human trafficking and sexual exploitation. For instance, with regards to discrimination, she wrote: “The Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health has noted that adolescence itself is often a basis for discrimination, with many adolescents treated as dangerous or hostile, incompetent to make decisions, incarcerated, exploited or exposed to violence as a direct consequence of their age. Health-care providers may perpetuate discrimination against adolescents when they deny them health services or contraceptive supplies or treat them poorly, which can make adolescents reluctant to seek the health-care they need.”