Recently, a brave teenager named Ain
spoke on social media about her teacher joking about rape in class. And when Ain went to the school counsellor to express her concern about the matter, the school counsellor’s response was shocking and infuriating to say the least—the school counsellor said that Ain was too sensitive. News of this went viral and Ain received rape threats.
I was fuming when I heard Ain’s experience at the school, and fear for her safety. I talked to other counsellors to see what we can do for Ain, and I found out that AWAM has reached out to Ain and is giving her support. Ain had also spoken in a panel session on this issue. She is one brave and resilient young girl.
As I ponder about this matter, I realised the students in Malaysia were denied the opportunity have age-appropriate sex education in schools
. I don’t know where and how Ain learned about her rights to have a safe learning environment. I sure am glad that she has that awareness, that it is not right to joke about rape. When I was her age, I was probably unaware of my rights as a student, and I would probably be too afraid to speak up. I applaud Ain for her bravery and resilience.
I remember when I was around 9 or 10 years old, I was walking in the night market with my family. Someone brushed my bottom a few times. I had no idea that that was sexual harassment. I had never heard of sexual harassment. All I remember was that it made me feel uncomfortable. I turned and looked at the person. The person looked away, the person continued. All I could do then was to walk faster, and stayed far away from the person. I hope and pray that children now are smarter than I was then.
I found out that even after so many years, students in Malaysia are still deprived of proper age-appropriate sex education. With the prevalence of internet usage, children get their first phone from a very young age. We have got to equip our children with proper sex education in order to protect them from being harmed by predators.
In 2018, Satpal Kaler wrote an article on rage.com.my
about teenage mothers at a home, where they can only stay for up to three months after the baby is born. Some of the girls said that they thought that they would not get pregnant from their first sexual intercourse. Some girls said they didn’t know how to reject their boyfriends
In my personal opinion, the children in this country are particularly vulnerable to being preyed by sexual predators. This is because our children are told to respect teachers—their elders (i.e. teachers, trainers, professors and so on). Not doing what you were told suggests that one is disrespectful to the elders. Also, our education system not necessary promote students speaking up. And thus, they are afraid to voice up when someone harassed them. The children are deprived of proper sex education. They have no knowledge of what’s what, what’s right, and what’s wrong. On top of that, they’re starting to use the internet at a very young age. This is perfect for the predators who are lurking online.
A survey was done in 2015, a staggering 35% of the female youth believe that their first intercourse would not lead to pregnancy. Statistics showed that 14 in every 1000 teenage girls become pregnant, which translates to 18,000 teenage pregnant girls a year. This is worrying. These are girls who are supposed to be having fun with their friends, stressing about PT3, SPM, and enjoying school. But they are now learning how to take care of a baby when they can barely take care of themselves.
Why is age-appropriate sex education important to our children? (1)
Our children are exposed to confusing and conflicting information
about relationship and sex. It is highly important to provide them with reliable information
about relationship and sex which hopefully prepares them for a safe and fulfilling life.
Knowledge is power
It is a cliché, but having age-appropriate sex education will empower our children
to make informed decisions and navigate in a world they may be exposed to gender-based violence, gender inequality, the risk of early and unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections.
Contrary to popular belief, that sex education promotes promiscuity among teenagers. Data collected by the UNESCO(1), showed that it does not increase sexual activity, sexual risk-taking behaviour.
I am aware that boys are just as vulnerable to being sexually harassed and sexually assaulted
too. The trauma that they experience is just as terrible as the girls. We have got to do something about it.
That is why it is important imperative to have age appropriate sex education for our future generations.
Children will learn about sex, whether from their friends or predators lurking on the internet. Why not equip them with age-appropriate knowledge about sex?
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