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Rutgers calls on Dutch government to prioritise CSE to tackle sexual violence

Stakeholder Report by Rutgers and SRI
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29 August 2022 Tags: Advocacy

In March, Rutgers and the Sexual Rights Initiative submitted their official stakeholder report to the UN Human Rights Council. The Netherlands is up for a Universal Periodic Review this year, which means that other States assess the status of human rights in our country. Sexual violence remains a problem in the Netherlands. Ahead of the formal UN led review in November, Rutgers and SRI call on the Dutch government to tackle this at the root by investing structurally in comprehensive sexuality education.

Comprehensive sexuality in the Netherlands needs to step into the 21st century. A recent study showed that high school students rate it at a mere 5.8 out of 10. The shadow report, therefore, includes concrete recommendations to improve CSE structurally. Sexuality education needs to also be mandatory in the higher grades of secondary school, making it part of the requirements to graduate. Teachers need to be equipped by including sexuality and sexual diversity in their training programmes. Finally, the so called ‘core objectives’ for schools should be expanded. Sexuality education needs to go beyond “the basics” of human biology and gender equality and focus on setting and respecting boundaries, mutual respect, and adequate information on sexuality. This is the only way to foster good citizenship and eradicate sexual violence.

Concrete pathways for improvement

While sexual and reproductive health and rights are generally accessible and protected in the Netherlands, challenges remain. The persistence of sexual violence, lack of access to adequate information, contraceptives and services for marginalised groups has prompted a thorough review by Rutgers.

To offer the Dutch government concrete pathways to improvement, the report presents a series of concrete recommendations to other Member States in Geneva in September to encourage them to include these in their formal Review of the Netherlands.

Our recommendations include:

  • Expand the mandatory CSE curriculum to all grades of high school, providing CSE up to the age of 18.
  • Make sufficient funds available for the national action plan on sexual violence and adopt a gender-transformative and youth-friendly approach. Focus should be on prevention, culture change and eradication of harmful norms.
  • Improve methods for data gathering on access on contraceptives and SRH service especially among the most marginalised

As part of the civil society in the Netherlands, Rutgers will closely monitor the Universal Periodic Review and push for inclusion of civil society organisations and networks in the follow-up by the Dutch government.

Read our full shadow report here.

About the UPR

The UPR process, in which a country reports on its own human rights situation, allows for civil society submissions called shadow reports. After its reporting, the state in question receives recommendations for improvement from other Member States. The Netherlands was last up for review in 2017. Since then, some improvements have been made on the basis of the recommendations, but much work remains to be done. The Universal Periodic Review is a mandatory process for every UN Member State and has been around since 2005

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