The Role Of Sex Education In Saving Our Children From Heinous Crimes

Sex education is the need of the time to save our children from the growing menace of molestation and to give them awareness to speak up if things go wrong, writes Momina Raja.

While I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, the news of an international pornography ring in the cities across Pakistan came up. The story further mentioned that the ring sold pornographic material featuring minors. Previously, the country has had shocking cases of child sexual abuse coming out of madrasas (religious schools) as well. Last year, in December, a minor boy was subjected to rape over 100 times by his madrasa teacher and the boy's eyes got affected. The episode of minor girl Zainab from Kasur still haunts us.

The recent #metoo wave picked popularity in Pakistan as victims came out with their stories all over social media. The access of internet allowed victims to share their experiences. Alumnae of a well-renowned private school of Lahore came forward with their disturbing experiences of harassment by their male teachers. Although, the school took instant action and sacked all the four teachers involved and an administration person, but this incident put a huge question mark on the country’s “hush hush” approach towards keeping such sensitive matters hidden under the carpet.

It's high time that Pakistani children get guidance from a young age; which behavior from the adults is acceptable and which is not. When children are barred from attaining this knowledge, then they do not recognise what an adult's intentions may be.

Prohibiting children from sex education creates consequences, simply because children do not know what they are going through. Conversely, having this knowledge gives them the understanding to distinguish between right and wrong. 

Being a traditional society, many issues are deemed taboo in Pakistan and sex education is one of them. Children from a very young age are socialised into believing that these taboos must never be given any attention and thus a series of consequences occur, such as sexual harassment.

This exercise is believed to be reductionist by the conservative culture - such cultures consider sexual education only to be related to insemination and believe if children are exposed to this kind of education, they will partake in activities that are forbidden.

However, such education actually has the opposite impact. When children from a young age are taught in a holistic manner it prevents them from going astray as deemed by the members of their society.

Research suggests children are not passive recipients of knowledge, rather they make informed and active decisions, thus when they are educated about such sensitive matters, they recognise the various attributions related to it. They gain knowledge about their own anatomy; they recognise the impact of their decision on their bodies and in many cases, they help deter consequences. In essence, children learn a variety of aspects of their body.

Sex education must not be deemed as unimportant because of one’s belief systems, mainly because it is relevant to everyone around the globe. It teaches crucial concepts such as consent and reproduction, which are applicable to every member of the society. Thus, it’s essential to teach our children about the distinction between “good touch” and “bad touch” in helping them to keep themselves safe.