ECOSCOPE/ NEERAJ KAUSHAL, TNN May 14, 2002, 01.13am IST
We live in a very strange world. Millions of children are infected with the HIV virus; thousands are dying of it. Over the last one decade, life expectancy has fallen by between 20 to 30 years in several African countries. AIDS has orphaned 13 million children. Half of all new HIV infections are among young people.
But at the United Nations summit on children last week, delegates from 180 countries debated whether the final declaration of the summit should contain words like abortion counselling for adolescents, or sex education or reproductive health services.
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It was not the plight of the young children infected by HIV that occupied the minds and hearts of the world leaders attending the UN convention. It was not the present and the future of our children that concerned the over 6000 delegates who had gathered in New York from across the world, but whether the final documents of the UN summit should have any direct or indirect reference to abortion.
Or whether the clergy or the mullah would object any reference to sex education in the conference papers. Or to put it bluntly, our so-called leaders were more concerned about how to appease the clergy and the mullahs than to look after the future of children for whom the convention was called.
Finally, the delegates at the summit gave in to pressures from the United States and followed a conservative line by deleting any reference to sex education or abortion from the final conference documents....