Let’s talk about sex

JANUARY 21 — Recently, 54 unmarried couples were nabbed in Terengganu by JHEAT for riding on motorbikes. JHEAT Commissioner Datuk Wan Mohd Wan Ibrahim advised unmarried couples “to refrain from sitting closely (on the motorbike) as such an act could lead to acts such as sexual intercourse and having children out of wedlock.”

Even more recently, after being under media spotlight over this, JHEAT took the issue further by saying they may “catch” unmarried couples in cars too.

We have always known that Malaysian Islamic authorities have a weird way of dealing with sex, but I’m quite convinced that this way of keeping men and women apart is an ineffective way of preventing societal ills like baby dumping and unwanted pregnancies.

In fact, this method doesn’t seem to make things any better albeit it might even be making things worse.

Last September, netizens went into a frenzy regarding a particular “condom” question in a PT3 examination paper. A lot of people were upset that the student’s answer was marked wrong, but there were also those who were enraged by the fact that whoever wrote the question paper had the audacity to ask about condoms.

PIBGN president Prof Madya Datuk Dr Mohamad Ali Hassan said that the question was unsuitable for 15-year-olds as it will encourage kids to go online and search for information on condoms.

Oh dear! God forbid that children learn about contraception!

All joking aside, I honestly believe it is high time that we take sex education seriously in this country, especially among the Muslims.

Most opposition to sex education is on the assumption that knowledge is harmful; that if you enlighten kids concerning sex, they will go out and do it. However, all it takes is a simple Google search or observation of our surroundings to reveal that ignorance and unresolved curiosity — not knowledge — is harmful.

Our resistance to telling kids what they want and need to know is one of the main reasons why we still have high numbers of unwanted pregnancies and baby dumping cases from year to year.

The main reason teachers and parents care not to discuss sex education comprehensively is because of their cultural upbringing, not religion, because in Islam, “sex” is not a dirty word. In fact, it is an important aspect of our lives.

Sex education is not about giving youngsters permission to have sex, but it is about teaching them about the human body, about reproduction, hazards of unsafe sex, and unwanted pregnancies. Not only that, but it also concentrates on the mental, emotional, and social aspects of puberty.

We might not be able to stop people from having sex, but at least we can decrease the number of individuals affected by sexually transmitted diseases and the number of babies getting thrown away by irresponsible adolescents.

Everyone has a role to play when it comes to sex education. It is not just the job of teachers in school, but also peers and especially parents wherein their responsibility is mainly in the form of reinforcing social, moral, and religious ethics into the child.

Our culture of beating around the bush when it comes to sex will birth, and has birthed, an army of adults who deem “sex” as a taboo subject, thus passing this on to their children, who in turn pass it on to theirs.

We have to stop thinking that instilling religious fear into people will “protect” them from having sex. Nothing will stop people from having sex, not even the heavier punishments of RUU355; teaching and encouraging safe sex will work much better in decreasing unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and baby dumping.

Even though there is still much to be discussed about how we are going to tackle sex education with a fresh perspective, I believe that a good first step is by getting rid of the stigma that surrounds the act of sex.

How about it, Malaysia? Are we ready to talk about sex?

** This is the personal opinion of the columnist.