Speaking on behalf of the civic group, Renata Ivanović told reporters that the group’s petition for the introduction of comprehensive sex education in schools had been signed by around 12,500 people in less than two weeks.
“These are sufficiently strong arguments that times have changed and that after 30 years it is time for public and education policies to address that issue and for launching procedures so that our children are educated about human sexuality as that is the only area that is not taught in school,” she said ahead of a thematic session of three parliamentary committees on the topic “What can state institutions do to prevent sexual abuse?”
Ivanović said the initiative sent a letter to the parliament on the need to introduce sex education in schools in the context of the thematic session as well as cases of sexual harassment at the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb and several other Zagreb faculties as well as the HRT public broadcaster.
Lana Bobić of the Platform for Reproductive Justice said that sex education would protect children from sexual violence as well as from hypersexualisation they were exposed to in the consumer society.
She noted that sexual violence was still a taboo in Croatian society.
MP Marijana Puljak said on behalf of an initiative launched by a group of female MPs that they wanted to effect changes in the system in order to strengthen the legal and any other protection of victims of violence.
Puljak said the initiative would request from the Science and Education Ministry a scientific study to show how much children have accepted topics from the cross-curricular topic Health, which has been taught since 2018.
“There has been no study to show how much children have acquired knowledge in that subject and how teachers teach about that cross-curricular topic considering that there is no separate subject or module so topics concerning sex education are taught as part of other different subjects,” Puljak said.
Rada Borić of the green-left caucus said that education was one of the instruments in the fight against sexual violence, recalling that she had been advocating the introduction of Civic Education for years.
“If we cannot have sex education as a separate subject, then make it at least a part of Civic Education,” she said, warning that it was worrying that some were afraid to introduce Civic Education as it would make young people responsible and understand what democracy is and what their rights are, including the right to not be abused.
She recalled that the government had signed the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence which explicitly mentions the obligation to introduce education to protect the dignity of women and victims, teach about gender stereotypes, etc.
In 2018 the parliament adopted a protocol on what to do in cases of sexual violence which, she said, was not being applied. She also asked the government why a fundamental document, a national gender equality policy, had not been adopted for four years.