Why exclude girls from sex education?

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To go by the announcement of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, only teenage boys will receive sex education. If it’s true that girls will be excluded, then one can only say that the government is being ridiculously short-sighted. It takes two to tango and, after all, it is girls who get pregnant.

Alongside this piece of news, the National Registration Department reported an alarming rise in the number of illegitimate births in Malaysia. In the three years since 2013, about 160,000 babies were born out of wedlock.

The numbers are staggering. On average, nearly 150 babies are born every day to unwed mothers.

If the number of babies flushed down the toilet or thrown into drains, rivers, incinerators and rubbish dumps are added to the statistics, the data will paint an even more horrific picture.

According to Utusan Online, the Secretary-General of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, Rose Lena Lazemi, said that sex education – for boys – would kick off in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan, Penang and Sabah.

She said the National Population and Family Development Board will introduce a module called Male Teenagers’ Reproductive and Sexual Education, with topics like premarital sex, sex variations, teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual abuse.

In today’s society, girls are just as promiscuous as boys, but some girls who have developed physically into women remain mentally immature and naive about sex.

The transition from childhood to adolescence is not always a smooth one. During this difficult period, teenagers may worry about their sexual feelings. Most normal relationships involve a girl and a boy, and that is why the announcement to introduce sex education only for boys is puzzling.

For years, we were told that the government would implement sex education in schools. We have had many false starts. Many teachers were afraid to teach sex to children, who probably knew more about sex than they. Teachers also feared the reaction of conservative parents.

The move to allow only boys to learn about sex appears like a mere knee jerk reaction to the worrying report about the staggering rise in illegitimate births. Is the government really serious in facing the issue?

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.

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