Trainer Muneeb (Pakistan): “If you buy a condom they usually ask if you’re married”
Muneeb Arshad (24) is a talented musician and Trainer4Life from Pakistan. He performed all over the country as a Dance4Life ambassador. His ultimate goal? Get the messages to the mass that young people have rights and need to be free to make their own decisions.
Growing up Muneeb never talked about intimacy, relations and sex. “My parents are doctors and I went to a good school, but I never heard about my rights as a young person. It was not a big problem, because I had different priorities. I just needed to study and get married. But I know now that the majority faces huge issues in their childhood: sexual abuse, early child marriage, unwanted pregnancies and gender based violence are growing epidemics in Pakistan.”
“The first time I realized this, was when Dance4Life came to my school. I got exposed to the reality and noticed that young people can’t talk about it. For me this was a huge changing point. I became a volunteer of the Dance4Life program and started training teens at schools. They all had the same problem: they couldn’t go anywhere with their questions. After the sessions people came up to me and told me personal stories about sexual abuse by family members and not being able to talk about menstruation.”
“Next to training I also became an ambassador for Dance4Life. My music is a good way to communicate with youngsters. I make a bigger impact with music then with just telling them what they should do.”
Deny the problem
“As a young person, it was very hard for me to ask attention for SRHR (sexual and reproductive health and rights issues). Grown-ups believe that the problems are not there. Since our religion and culture doesn’t allow sex before marriage, they think it’s not possible that young people get problems with their sexual health. But that’s not the case. They don’t realise how different it is for this generation. In one click we see porn or movies where youngsters do have relationships, that gives a different trigger. But our society doesn’t accept different behavior. If a young person goes to the pharmacy for a condom, it’s normal that they ask if you’re married. Imagine how it is for a girl.”
Part of the Dance4Life program is the footprint. It makes you think about what you leave behind in this world. For Muneeb it can’t be big enough: “I love to empower young people so they can make decisions that helps them reach their goal. But we can’t reach everyone. My ultimate goal is to get this messages to the mass.”
In order to reach his goal, Muneeb will also joint the Youth Meetup in Brussels on September 26, presenting his ideas in the European Parliament. This is a youth-led event where he and other youth advocates from around the world (and Europe) give concrete recommendations on health, gender and education issues to European political groups, in the light of the European elections in May 2019.