KUALA LUMPUR, May 12 ― Putrajaya’s abstinence-focused sex education module has so far failed to help raise awareness of safe sex among a majority of youths, the Malaysian Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) survey revealed.
Despite the introduction of SRH education in schools, the survey found that pregnancy myths remain prevalent with many admitting to not knowing the importance of protection to prevent pregnancy.
The survey also found that a significant number of youths thought protection during sex was unnecessary.
“Their awareness remains low. There's a lot more to be done,” Matias Caride, marketing director of Reckitt Beckinser Malaysia and Singapore, said during the survey's unveiling here.
The survey, which interviewed 1,071 youths between 18 and 29 nationwide, was conducted by Durex and Perspective Strategies with the support of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
Its Deputy Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun who was at the survey, admitted that there the survey underscored weaknesses to the government's SRH module.
But she maintained that the module's focus on prevention remains the primary focus.
“We need to go according to the module and their age. Most importantly [it] is to teach them to know their body… and how to say no (to sex) and prevent (from having sex) for their own safety,” she said.
The survey found 79 per cent of youths interviewed said they have received some form of SRH education, but more than half said they felt the information was inadequate in helping them make responsible decisions.
On the subject of pregnancy, close to half of those interviewed had sufficient knowledge on protection with 42 per cent believing withdrawal before ejaculation is effective in preventing pregnancy.
More than half of the respondents also thought that a woman can get pregnant even when having intercourse during her period, and 77 per cent of the respondents who didn't know were women.
It also found that one out 10 Malaysians believe douching can help prevent pregnancy.
Caride said the lack of factually-correct SRH information appeared to be prevalent with many respondents remain in the dark on key sexual issues like sexually transmitted infections and rape.
The survey found that as many as 79 per cent of respondents knew about STIs but their knowledge were limited or were even unaware of any other STIs apart from HIV.
On rape, as high as 82 per cent of youths interviewed blamed sexual violence on “uncontrolled urges”.
Caride said the survey's findings should help policy makers address the shortcomings of its SRH module, and at the same time emphasised the need for a comprehensive sex education model.
“There is low awareness and this needs to be addressed urgently,” he said.