My daughter met up with an old schoolmate a few weeks ago and was shocked to find out that she is now a mother to a young child. The girl, who had left school three years ago had apparently got herself pregnant and had to marry her boyfriend. Now, at eighteen years of age, she is a single mother who is striving for a fresh beginning.
Teenage pregnancy isn’t uncommon in our society. According to the Ministry of Health, more than 16500 teen pregnancy cases were recorded in 2014. This statistic which works out to an average of 50 pregnancies a day is based on cases served by government clinics and hospitals only. So it is a conservative estimate.
Over the years, with each case of baby dumping or Standard Five girls getting pregnant (as in Bahau and Kuantan lately) there is renewed discussion and debate about how to solve this social problem. We talk about setting up special schools, counselling sessions and centres for pregnant teens and yet this remains a problem.
Sex is all around us and so easily accessible even to children. The recent cases of Standard Five girls who gave birth raise the question of when they became sexually active. It looks like the era of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck is long gone. Cinderella and Snow White have given way to sex tales. Binging on local dramas and movies such as ‘Suamiku Ustaz’ is all the rage as is watching shows such as ‘50 Shades of Grey’ online.
Despite debating for donkey’s years, despite all the underage pregnancies and baby dumping, sex education still isn’t part of our curriculum. The closest we’ve gotten to some sort of sex education is our Form Four and Form Five students being subject to a one-time, two-hour talk conducted by representatives from god-knows-where. Girls and boys are separated for this talk on body parts, laws of attraction, puberty and menstrual cycle for females.
According to some students I’ve spoken to, sex and pregnancy are not even covered in such talks. How can we expect to equip our young ones with the tools they need to make “good” decisions if we deny them the knowledge?
Our Ministries are all over the place on this issue. It is truly mindboggling that the Education Ministry in this day and age, is still shying away from implementing sex education in our schools. It is beyond frustrating that our Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development continues to talk about ways to assist pregnant, teenage mothers but ignores ways to prevent pregnancies among teens. And it is unconscionable that our Health Ministry’s strategy to curb what they call ‘random sex’ is to not provide healthcare to unwed teens.
Seriously, where do we stand?
We discourage sexual activities among our young ones but we deny them sex education.
We are against teen pregnancies yet we deny unwed teens protection from conceiving.
We are up in arms against baby dumping but we think it is OK to deny unwed mothers healthcare.
What an irony that our authorities support a bunch of middle-aged, Muslim women establishing an organisation to learn how to satisfy their husbands sexually yet deny sex education to our children because, ‘it is not our culture’.
Apparently, the ‘Love and Sex with Robots’ conference which was recently declared illegal is also not our culture but at the same time, our highly cultured authorities overlook advertisements and TV programmes with sexual innuendos. They seem to not notice the ‘Sex Toys for Sale’ and ‘Volcano Massage’ signage found all over lamp posts, bridges and telephone booths around the country.
This is what we are exposing our children to.
Yet what is the city council doing about it? What is the mayor doing about it? What are our respective ministries doing about it? Perhaps they are still figuring out what ‘Volcano Massage’ means, eh?
Let me remind the powers that be that it is choosing to turn a blind eye, deliberately looking the other way, ignoring serious problems that are staring us in the face – that is not “our culture”!
The Government has to do more than stand on a soapbox and declare the ‘Love and Sex with Robots’ conference illegal. They have to stop acting like robots themselves. They have to stop working from the same old playbook, giving the same excuses and trying the same old nonsense over and over again when there is already overwhelming evidence that the current way doesn’t work.
We need to introduce sex education in schools.
We need to bring in qualified educators to teach the subject.
If we do not do this now, our children will continue seeking their own sex education online and behind bushes.