Sex education, a widely recognized term in our society has a misinterpreted meaning. It does not only stand for education regarding sexual intercourse, but is broad in the sense that it involves everything related to sex including sexual anatomy, emotional relations, reproductive rights and responsibilities, and other aspects of human sexual behavior. Although sex education encompasses all this, currently only limited aspects of this broad subject are being taught in schools, the media and other organizations. However, this situation needs to change. The promotion of sex education is most dire in our nation, as it will be extremely advantageous for our people in several aspects. Although it is said that sexual education directly induces sexual arousal and ultimately sexual activity, sexual education needs to be effectively implemented in Pakistan since it is an extremely effective means of controlling the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, is instrumental in ending the woes of teenagers confused about their bodies during puberty, and greatly equips children in protecting themselves from sexual predators and pedophiles.
Sexual education is an effective means of controlling sexually transmitted diseases, the most common of which is HIV/AIDS. According to a study held by the AIDS Research Institute University of California, San Francisco: “The HIV/AIDS epidemic remains a serious health concern for young people, and unprotected sexual activity is responsible for a substantial majority of these infections in youth.” With the majority of the population being illiterate, there is not much awareness regarding the existence and spreading, let alone the prevention of AIDS, especially in the rural areas, where the availability of sources of information such as the internet, television and libraries is seemingly non-existent. In order to restrict the spreading of these fatal diseases, sexual education is required to convey the importance of the use of contraceptives such as condoms, which are one of the most effective means of preventing infection through sexual intercourse. Thus, the provision of sexual education will directly affect the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. If taught about changes in the human body at an early age, children will not find puberty as alien as they do presently.
These changes not only include physical changes, but also psychological changes such as involuntary mood swings, which can be quite confusing and distressing, especially if no information is possessed regarding the changes taking place. According to Dr Mobin Akhtar,” adolescents, especially boys, when they get to puberty, and the changes that come with puberty, they think it’s due to some disease.” There have even been such cases where this lack of understanding regarding the changes in their bodies has caused teenagers to commit suicide. This state of confusion may lead to teenagers adopting the malpractices of masturbation. Sexual education will facilitate these adolescents, explaining to them the changes taking place in their changes. Sex education will allow them to anticipate the hormonal changes that are to take place without feeling distressed and confused, since they have been assured by proper professionals that these changes are nothing out of the ordinary.
Alerting children regarding the presence of pedophiles and sexual predators will help them protect themselves from the everyday threats imposed by the presence of these figures in our society. Creating such awareness has become increasingly important considering the number of child sexual harassment cases, and surprisingly, the gaining popularity of child pornography in Pakistan. Throughout Pakistan, there are large numbers of uneducated and unaware children who are too poor to afford school, and who from an early age are willing to work at any place where a job is available for minimal income. These children are usually targeted by their employers and adult co-workers and subjected to the most inhuman of treatments since they are not even aware of the fact that they have a right to stop this treatment. Even in educated households, the lack of awareness has allowed children to be targeted by pedophiles posing as workers, religious instructors and drivers. Again these children do not know whether such acts are right or not, and refrain from informing their parents. The advantage of sex education in such cases would be the awareness among the poor and uneducated regarding the threats this sexual abuse poses at them, and in the long run, can result in the downfall of the illegal industry of child pornography.
It may be argued that sexual awareness might lead to an increase the sexual arousing of teenagers who have recently reached the stage of puberty, leading to unlawful premarital intercourse. This argument is based on no solid facts, since sex education has not yet been adopted in Pakistan. According to Dr Mobin Akhtar, sex education “doesn’t make the child sexually active or immoral.” Sex education focuses on abstinence and teaching the various responsibilities associated with the knowledge of sexual intercourse. It stresses upon the threats and dangers of premarital sexual intercourse, the most daunting of which are teenage pregnancies. The same could be said about the argument that sex education gives rise to the booming of the pornography industry. The growth of the pornographic industry has mostly been brought about by the increased demand from unaware and uneducated teenagers, who aim to quench their curiosity regarding sex. If the concept of timely sexual education were present, this thirst for information would have been satisfied, leaving no need for resorting to pornography in the first place. Hence sexual education aids in eradicating rather than encouraging premarital sex and the viewing of pornography.
A major proportion of Pakistan’s population being composed of orthodox Muslims, Islam has played a great role in the restriction of the imparting of sex education. Topics such as sexual intercourse are considered taboo, and openly discussing such matters is frowned upon in Pakistan’s culture. However, this is based on the wrong perception of religion by the Pakistanis. The point is that sexual education is not a topic to be shunned in silence and ignorance, especially when it has been discussed in the Holy Quran, the first and foremost source of Islam, in the following passage: “Your women are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like.”(Quran, 2:223) This proves that Islam does not rule out sexual education, as is so often perceived by the orthodox members of society. Instead of prohibiting and restricting sexual education, Pakistanis should make room for sexual education.
It may be argued that sexual education is a natural process that should be carried out by parents at home in a more religious rather than scientific setup. Apart from the advantage of emphasizing on the moral issues related to sexual intercourse, preferring parents over scientific experts is a bad idea. Since most of the population of Pakistan comprises of uneducated and illiterate individuals, parents might not be able to convey correct information regarding sex to their children since they themselves might not possess it. This can be attributed to the fact that they too must have been educated by their uneducated and unaware parents.
Thus a continuous flow of incorrect information is in existence, leaving children with wrong notions regarding sex in their heads. Furthermore, owing to the orthodox form of Pakistani culture which categorizes topics such as sexual education under the banner of taboo, parents and children might not be comfortable with each other discussing sexual intercourse. This would leave the children with no choice but to turn to unreliable sources of information such as friends, which might in turn lead to wrong ideas about sex being generated. Trained professional sex educationalists will be able to impart correct and reliable information without the feeling of awkwardness that children feel while talking to their parents and at the same time, children will be able to comfortably obtain information regarding all their queries.
With globalization, extreme westernization among people of all social classes in Pakistan, and the want to be more modernized has led to Pakistan’s youth losing sense of moral values. In foreign societies, premarital sex has been accepted as a norm in culture, unlike Pakistan, where the religion of Islam prohibits such acts, giving rise to increased sexual tension and frustration has in teenagers. This tension and arousal might cause teenagers to resort to unlawful and usually, unprotected sexual intercourse.
However, awareness of the threat of premarital pregnancy andsexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS created through sex education, could lessen the negative effects of teen angst, as they will see premarital sex and other sexual acts not as a harmless display of their rebellious nature or a more modernized way of living, but instead as a potentially harmful act, affecting both themselves and their associates. Also, sex education will lessen the effects of peer pressure, as teenagers will not look at intercourse at an early age as a milestone to conquer before someone else, or as a competition, but instead will be able to look at it in through an educational and rational perspective, examining the pros and cons presented to them by authorities that educate them about sexual behavior.
Pakistan is in dire need of a proper system providing sexual education to the mostly illiterate and orthodox population living in rural as well as urban areas. Exposure to information regarding the various aspects of sexual education, including family planning and the responsibilities and rights of partners while conducting sexual relations, is most beneficial in preventing premarital sex, unwanted pregnancies, and decreasing the number of rape cases. Even though sexual education is wrongly and unjustly linked to an increase in sexual activity, Pakistan would be greatly benefited by the introduction of formal sexual education since it strongly works against the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases, effectively assists confused teenagers regarding the changes in their bodies, and creates awareness in children about the presence of pedophiles, allowing them to protect themselves.
“BBC News – Fury over Doctor’s Book on Sex Education for Muslims.” BBC – Homepage. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. .
Collins, Chris, Priya Alagiri, and Todd Summers. “Abstinence Only vs Comprehensive Sex Education.” AIDS Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco. Web. .
The Holy Qur’an. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. .