Women’s group pushes for sex ed after rape case involving 11-year-old

The Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group says children must be taught what to do about inappropriate behaviour by adults. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: A women’s group here has highlighted the need for sex education in schools following the case of an 11-year-old girl who told her teacher that she had been raped.

Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group president Winnie Yee said this is why her organisation has been fighting to ensure that children, even as young as four to five years of age, are educated about sex in schools.

“There are many instances where adults touch children inappropriately, but children do not understand that it is wrong.

“We need to teach them the boundaries (of private parts), especially since the culprits are usually family members of the victims,” she said.

Yee was commenting on a court case reported in local dailies today about a girl in Tenghilan, Tamparuli, who told her teacher that her 50-year-old stepfather had been raping her since she was in Standard Five.

The teacher immediately informed the mother, who lodged a police report. The rapist was sentenced to jail for 27 years by the Sessions Court yesterday.

Yee said it was fortunate that sex education was taught in the girl’s school and even more fortunate that the teacher took immediate action upon hearing her story.

Without sex education classes, Yee added, the girl might not have known that the rape was wrong.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg, actually. During our studies in the many districts in Sabah, there were many other unreported cases. This case is certainly not unique. Many of the children simply do not understand what happened to them.

“At the same time, teachers have a big responsibility to be the eyes and ears (of the authorities) sometimes, and they must know how to take action when students confide in them,” she said.

Yee also explained that sex education does not mean that students are taught about sexual activities.

Rather, she said, children are taught about inappropriate behaviour, especially what to do when adults who are close to them take advantage of them.

“Today’s world is different from our time, as children are exposed to all sorts of information on the internet,” she said.

Yee, whose organisation is working with the Education Department to implement sex education at all schools in Sabah, said it is important to have a staff member, whether a teacher or counsellor, talk about sex education in school instead of an invited speaker.

“This is because if the students need someone to talk to, that person in charge can take proper action immediately,” she said.