By Aya Tantiangco, GMA News
MANILA --- The role of men in family planning took the spotlight at the 1st World Contraception Day Philippines, held September 26, Wednesday.
Lydio Espanol Jr. of the Commission on Population shared alarming statistics pointing to the absence of men in the conversation about contraception. Data shows that the rate of use of contraceptives used by males fall way below the rate of use of contraceptives used by females like pills and IUDs.
“Men place the burden of responsibility for family planning solely on their partners,” Espanol said.
Amina Evangelista Swanepoel of Roots of Health seconded the statement during the panel discussion, where she expanded on the need to address the harmful effects of macho culture, especially on women.
Roots of Health is non-governmental organization based in Palawan that go to communities to increase reproductive health awareness and provide people access to contraceptives.
“I really believe it boils down to men being uncomfortable with women having control over their own bodies,” Swanepoel said.
Swanepoel’s presentation for the forum centered on the story of “Annabelle” and the factors that push her towards dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. In addition to health centers withholding information from her because she is a minor, Annabelle also has to deal with her boyfriend’s opinion about contraceptives.
According to Swanepoel, teenagers like Annabelle and even older, married women frequently deal with partners who explicitly prohibit them from using contraceptives in the mistaken belief that it will lead to infidelity.
“Partners would often say that they don’t want their wives or their girlfriends to be on contraception because then she could cheat on him,” Swanepoel said.
Swanepoel said that one of the first areas that Roots of Health went to was a fishing community. The men would be out at sea for five to six days and they said of their wives, “Kung hindi daw sila matakot na mabuntis, they’ll play around.”
Although there are existing programs carried out by various government agencies like Kalalakihang Tapat sa Responsibilidad at Obligasyon sa Pamilya (KATROPA) and Mr. GAD that targets men and educates them about their part in effective family planning, the advocates at the forum believe that supporters of the RH Law must remain vigilant and fight for the proper implementation of its provisions. — LA, GMA News