UN says early sexual encounters for many young Pacific people often forced

The new head of the development agency working in 14 Pacific Island countries says many young people are having their first sexual experience against their will.

Dr Laurent Zessler, the Director of the United Nations Population Fund's Pacific Sub-regional office, says young people must have access to better education on sexual and reproductive health.

UN data from Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu shows that up to 50 percent of women had their first sexual experience before the age of 18 and for those before the age of 15, between 23 per cent in Kiribati to 59 per cent in Vanuatu reported it was forced.

Dr Zessler says all community groups need to support young people better.

"Our mandate is to ensure that every pregnancy in the world is by choice and not by chance. We try to make sure that every birth, you know, giving birth is a safe endeavour, and also we try to make sure that young people have full information about sexuality to fulfill their full potential later on in life."

The Director of the United Nations Population Fund's Pacific Sub-regional office, Dr Laurent Zessler.


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