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Government of Uruguay Launches ‘Sex Guru’ App

Uruguay’s Ministry of Public Health has released a new mobile phone app called “The Sex Guru,” intended to educate young people about how to practice safe sex, avoid pregnancy, and make a habit of routine doctor visits to stay healthy.

The Uruguayan government debuted the app this week, recruiting the efforts of Agustín Casanova, a pop star known as a member of the cumbia band Márama. “It is good for us young people to participate in these things,” Casanova said of the app, “not only to better the nation, but each of our individual situations.”

“The Sex Guru” is the Spanish-language translation of the Hollywood comedy The Guru, a 2002 film in which an Indian dance teacher attempts to pursue a movie career in New York but, after accidentally entering the pornography business, becomes a well-respected sexologist. Like the titular character in that film, the animated guide in the Uruguayan app wears a red turban and claims to be an expert on sex, encouraging the user to “let yourself be taken by the wisdom of the Sex Guru.”

The app features a number of services: a localized map showing health centers and locations to acquire free contraceptives and STD testing; a calendar for women to track their periods; and “general information for suicide prevention,”

Like the titular character in that film, the animated guide in the Uruguayan app wears a red turban and claims to be an expert on sex, encouraging the user to “let yourself be taken by the wisdom of the Sex Guru.” The app features a number of services: a localized map showing health centers and locations to acquire free contraceptives and STD testing; a calendar for women to track their periods; and “general information for suicide prevention,”

The app features a number of services: a localized map showing health centers and locations to acquire free contraceptives and STD testing; a calendar for women to track their periods; and “general information for suicide prevention,” according to Argentine news outlet Infobae.

“The idea is to apply youthful language to themes, myths, realities, and other related issues in an interactive way,” according to the head of the National Institute for Youth, Santiago Soto.

Uruguay is known as one of the most liberal nations in Latin America, having legalized abortion in 2012 and boasting an uncharacteristically secular society for Latin America. It also suffers from a very high unwanted pregnancy rate — a full 50 percent — and high numbers of teen pregnancies. Of those women who become pregnant as teenagers, 95 percent drop out of school.

“Contraception is one of the highest-return investments you can make,” Cristina Lustemberg, a deputy secretary at the Ministry of Public Health, tells Uruguayan newspaper El Observador. “A wanted pregnancy is a pregnancy with many strengths – the child has high chances of being educated, healthy, with fewer dropout rates and instances of criminality.”

The government hopes to reduce the teen pregnancy rate from 26.7 percent to 22 percent within the next few years.

While the government peaked in its progressive bent under the rule of former socialist president José Mujica, some of Mujica’s policies have continued to threaten the secular nature of the country. Among Mujica’s many internationalist projects was the embrace of Syrian refugees, which have struggled to assimilate into Uruguayan culture. Uruguay was forced to suspend the program after a number of the Syrian refugee men were arrested for beating their wives, what the government called a “cultural” divide between Uruguay and its newest residents.

Mujica also accepted six former Guantánamo Bay prisoners, who have professed support for jihadist groups and demanded to move back to an Islamic country. Two of the six have married Uruguayan women, who were forced to convert to Islam for their husbands.

In March, Uruguay documented its first Islamic attack in its modern history: a man who stabbed a Jewish Uruguayan to death in public while shouting, “Allahu Akbar.”

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