Don’t you dare talk about SEX in Pakistan let alone giving sex education in schools to underage children. Today’s Pakistan is not free, and freedom of speech is a luxury for the ruling elite of the country. The disparity between the children at home and abroad has increased at least three folds since the invent of the internet. Everything is readily available to view, listen or learn from the web. In Pakistan, a total number of broadband subscribers has reached 24.78 million in 2016 that is still way lesser than countries having lower population count such as Thailand and Bangladesh.
While the world is doing wonders, Pakistan sits at below 50% literacy rate. We should accept that the Pakistani children of today have more information, but we are not certain if they have the right knowledge. Television channels, radio stations, print media and even the internet is used for non-constructive purposes. Unfortunately, the country’s education system has no uniformity and standards are pretty low when compared to the rest of the world. With a lack of education budget and no substaintial policy the students suffer greatly across the country as almost every public and private institution are only shooting in the dark.
Pakistan mortifyingly boasts of one of the highest global illiteracy rates and due to no formal structure of sex education in the country discussion on sexuality is often misperceived and conceived as a taboo. This type of education is often related to pornography, and it is mostly thought of as an act of sex only. A large number of student population studying in Madrassas have it inculcated in their minds that any question regarding sexuality would be a sin, and the sinners punishment is hell fire.
However, what the policymakers and the community as a whole are missing is that sex education relates to the human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual activity, reproductive health, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities. Also, the abstinence and birth control. Usually, parents, caregivers and guardians give children such education whereas, formal school programs and public health campaigns are limited to none. The most dangerous are the discussions and advises among friends as inadequate knowledge could hamper decision-making measures. Sex education also goes a long way in fighting and most importantly understanding sexual harassment especially when young. The most significant learning is to recognise and quickly report to avoid any harmful outcome. In developed countries, sex education starts at an early age of 12 when girls are near or reached puberty and when boys are curious but aloof.
The youth deserves to know and they have the right to sex education
Furthermore, In conservative societies all over the world, this remains a controversial topic. Nevertheless, there is a solution to every problem – if the term is packaged with a new name and referred to as “Reproductive Health Education” the strong feel of the word sex will instantly bring down many eyebrows.
Puberty of most teenagers begins with panic when they hardly know anything about their body and the changes they incur. What would a 12-year-old girl do when she starts bleeding in school? Her mother never told her about menstruation. Or what will a boy do when he is aroused? No formal education structure of this most important issue in daily life would lead to inaccurate information as teenagers will ask their mates or search online. Mostly the data acquired through these channels is misleading that puts the youth at a greater risk of abuse, exploitation and they are more prone to fall victim of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
The majority if not all teenage pregnancies in Pakistan go unreported. Most of them happen due to unawareness at a very young age resulting in unsafe childbirth, abortion and at times sexual abuse or violence. In the so many years that we have already lived in the 21st century, we have learned very little and have cared too much about what others will think. Today, sex education is the need for our own children’s safety. The objective is not to get the youngsters active in sex before marriage or to live in a western defined society. But rather to arm them with the knowledge to better understand the biological changes their bodies are undergoing.
To highlight, Pakistan is one of the 164 signatories of Dakar Education for All (EFA). The signatory clearly identifies and states “Life Skills” as a basic learning need for all young people. However, the Government of Pakistan is yet to implement this document in letter and spirit. The country is home to at least 64% (estimated as the last census was conducted in 1998) under 18-year-olds which loudly speaks of the necessity of such kind of education. The curriculum can be designed on Islamic principles and values. Explaining the youth as to why adultery is forbidden as it poses a grave danger of exploitation, STDs and unwanted pregnancy. Furthermore, how to ensure cleanliness and purity while puberty takes a toll. These questions are in the conscious of the immature mind. If they don’t get any guidance, the frustration will only fuel illicit activities that we all strongly oppose.