Archive for the ‘Sex Education’ Category

When consenting is a crime

Monday, January 6th, 2020

Many boys don’t realise it’s an offence to have sex with a girl under 16 even if it’s consensual (file photo posed by model).

THE new health education syllabus on the PEERS (reproductive and social health education) curriculum will see general information on statutory rape being included in the Year Six textbook. And, in Form Five, the topic will be further discussed in the context of sexual assault starting next year, the Education Ministry told StarEdu.

Delivered in formal and non-formal settings, PEERS uses an incremental, spiral-curriculum approach that starts at an early age and builds new information on previous learning.

“Under the new health education syllabus which took about a year to develop, statutory rape will be a topic under sexual behaviour in the Year Six textbook.

“It will again be addressed with Form Five students in the context of sexual assault.”

The content, assured the ministry, would be “age-and-developmentally-appropriate” according to local culture and context.

The new syllabus, it said, is important as it provides students with opportunities to explore and nurture positive values and attitudes towards sexual and reproductive health, and to develop self-esteem and respect for human rights and gender equality.

PEERS, said the ministry, empowers young people to take responsibility for their own decisions and behaviour, and the ways in which they may affect others.

“It builds the skills and attitudes that enable young people to treat others with respect, acceptance, tolerance and empathy, regardless of their ethnicity, race, social, economic or immigration status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics.

“Sexuality is present throughout life, manifesting in different ways and interacting with physical, emotional and cognitive maturation.

Noor Azimah says parents must do their part.Noor Azimah says parents must do their part.

“PEERS is a major tool for promoting sexual well-being and preparing children and young people for healthy and responsible relationships at the different stages of their lives.”

National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan said any new and relevant information – especially those concerning students and the law, are welcomed.

But, it must be incorporated into the current subjects offered so as not to burden the students.

“We want to reduce fatigue among students, not add to it. So, whatever we introduce to the curriculum should not make their school life more regimented, ” he said, adding that teachers are happy to educate children especially on content that can prevent abuse.

There is no “appropriate age” to teach anything that concerns one’s welfare and safety, he said.

The earlier children are taught, the more aware they will be of their bodies.

This is important for them to protect themselves, he said.

“It’s no different from how we teach students about the harms of drug abuse and how trafficking is punishable by death.

“It’s not that we’re teaching them the law school curriculum – we’re just giving them basic information so that they’re aware that there are laws on consent.”

There is already a gender-specific module for teenagers designed by the LPPKN (National Population and Family Development Board), said Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim.

“It’s established and comprehensive, covering various important topics.

Tan said teachers are up to the task.Tan said teachers are up to the task.

“The focus on statutory rape as part of the PEERS and CSE (comprehensive sexuality education) module, is possibly because of the alarming statistics and the rising number of rape cases, incest, and those aged 16 and below admitting to having sexual relations with multiple partners, ” she said, adding that while parents should be the ones to provide the basic information and to monitor their children’s activities and well-being, they do not have the knowledge to give a detailed view and may shy away from giving the correct information.

“We need well-trained teachers and instructors to conduct these classes and to make sure that they impart knowledge that is beneficial to students.

“Students who know their rights and self-worth won’t succumb to pressures by anyone – especially family members – who may take advantage of them.”

Child therapist Priscilla Ho thinks statutory rape should already be introduced in Year Four and taught right up until the student finishes secondary school.

The first seven years of a child’s life is critical for a healthy mental well-being. While it is very important to introduce statutory rape at primary level, Year Six is too late, she said.

“And why is it only taught again when the student is about to leave school? Does the ministry think the child is safe from Forms One to Four?” she said, adding that children must learn to protect their bodies from abuse and they must know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.

“If children come from an abusive environment, what are schools doing to help?

“Does the Education Ministry have crime prevention measures in place?”

Ho wants statutory rape to be taught from year Four.Ho wants statutory rape to be taught from year Four.

Ho, who regularly conducts anti-bullying workshops for children, is also the co-founder of Creativity at Heart, a non-profit child guidance centre for youngsters.

She said children are generally ignorant of the law and are having sex despite being below age 16. As it was consensual or suka sama suka, they don’t think it’s a big deal.

“A 16-year-old boy charged with statutory rape was very angry that the girlfriend’s mother reported him. He felt that it was unfair that only he was arrested.

“One 17-year-old said his girlfriend had sex with him willingly and only lodged a report after they broke off. He too, was angry.”

Parents, she said, play a crucial role in educating their kids from a young age.

Sex education shouldn’t be left solely to schools.

“Parents must teach character building and a healthy lifestyle.

“Why are they so fearful of teaching sex education when the subject is so important in their children’s lives?”

Advising parents to adopt a creative approach, she said children also learn from observing their parents’ body language.


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Lessons about statutory rape

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

PETALING JAYA: Lessons on statutory rape, when they are introduced, will be “age and developmentally appropriate” according to local culture and context.

The new health education syllabus will see the topic taught to Year Six and Form Five students next year.

Statutory rape in textbooks will be discussed in relation to sexual behaviour and assault, the Education Ministry told StarEdu in an e-mail response.

Statutory rape under Section 376 of the Penal Code carries up to 30 years’ jail and caning upon conviction if a man has sex with a girl below age 16, with or without her consent.

“The new syllabus is important as it provides students with opportunities to explore and nurture positive values and attitudes towards sexual and reproductive health.

“It will also allow students to develop self-esteem and respect for human rights and gender equality, ” said the ministry.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said well-trained teachers and instructors were needed to conduct these classes to ensure the right message was effectively communicated to students.

“The earlier children are taught, the more aware they will be of their bodies, ” said National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan.

He said teachers were up to the task of providing students with basic information on consent.

Child therapist Priscilla Ho said statutory rape should be introduced in Year Four and taught through the five years of secondary school.

She said parents must also start educating their children from a young age, especially on the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.

On Nov 24, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching announced that students would learn about statutory rape and related issues, including child grooming and sexual harassment, beginning 2021.

It was important for them to know that sex at their age, even if consensual, was a crime, she said.

At least one-third of the rape cases reported to the police last year involved juvenile perpetrators and the number had been rising, The Star reported on Oct 25.

Most of the cases involved teenage girls between 13 and 15.

Bukit Aman statistics showed that 35% out of the 822 rape cases up till October 2019 involved young rapists.

The percentage rose from 25% in 2016 to 34% in 2018.

Believing that there were more unreported statutory rape cases, Asst Comm Choo Lily, the principal assistant director of the Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division (D11), attributed the problem to greater accessibility to pornographic material, usually circulated via social media or messaging applications.

There were instances of children below the age of 12 trying to imitate sex acts they saw on videos.

Many boys do not realise it is an offence to have sex with a girl under the age of 16.

They think that it is all right if their girlfriend consents and they love each other.


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Child sex abuse victims experience guilt and shame

Friday, December 20th, 2019
Child sex abuse victims display more self-destructive behaviour as well as experience more suicidal tendencies. FILE PIC

A REPORT by a newspaper showing that a high percentage of child sexual abusers are close family members, such as fathers and stepfathers, is heart-wrenching.

It is even more heart-breaking when the report stated that most adults do not believe their children when they say that they have been sexually abused.

However, 98 per cent of the reported child abuse cases are true.

Children are a gift from Allah. They are worth more than wealth and material resources.

Their physical, mental, psychological and intellectual needs must be protected from harm, abuse and maltreatment.

Firm action should be taken if children are harmed and the abusers should be punished.

According to the 1999 WHO Consultation on Child Abuse Prevention, child sexual abuse is “the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society”.

Every country has enacted laws to safeguard children from sexual abuse, including Malaysia.

the Child Act 2001 and the Sexual Offences against Children Act 2017 are designed to protect children.

Section 31 of the Child Act stipulates that the parent or guardian of a child who sexually abuses the child or causes or otherwise permits him to be abused is committing an offence.

Upon conviction, the offender can be fined not exceeding RM50,000 or imprisoned not exceeding 20 years, or both.

The Sexual Offences Against Children Act provides certain offences and their punishment such as sexually communicating with a child (maximum three years imprisonment), child grooming (maximum five years imprisonment and whipping), meeting, following child grooming (maximum 10 years imprisonment and whipping), physical sexual assault on a child (maximum 20 years imprisonment and whipping) and non-physical assault on a child (maximum 15 years imprisonment and maximum RM20,000 fine or both).

Nevertheless, law enforcement is a cause for concern.

Laws are useless without enforcement.

This issue needs to be addressed to protect children.

Child sexual abuse leads to depression, eating disorders, somatic concerns, anxiety, helplessness, attitude problems, denial, sexual and relationship problems.

It has also been linked to psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia and delusional disorder.

Victims often experience guilt, shame and self-blame, which are also categorised as negative mental health effects.

It has been shown that they take responsibility for the abuse.

When the sexual abuse is committed by a trusted adult, it may be hard for the child to view the perpetrator in a bad light, leaving them incapable of seeing what happened as none of their fault. Victims blame and absorb negative messages about themselves.

Victims display more self-destructive behaviour as well as experience more suicidal tendencies.

Family support and strong peer relationship are important in reducing the impact.

It is important to inculcate awareness in family members to believe a child’s complaint and to act upon it through police report and investigation.

As stated in the book The Law of Domestic Violence (IIUM Press, 2019), the same duty needs to be imposed on neighbours and teachers in the event of suspicious occurrences of child abuse.

No matter how the abusers hide their evil deeds, the crime will be exposed.

However, society needs to be aware of the importance of protecting and concealing the identity of victims.


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Rape of disabled girl shows need for greater sex education in schools, says NGO.

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Protect and Save The Children (PS The Children) has urged for comprehensive sexuality education in all schools in light of a case where three teenagers had allegedly raped a disabled girl.

The non-governmental organisation, which works with children who are sexually abused and exploited, said it is a myth that sexual education can increase children’s involvement in “sexual activity”.

It added that a mindset shift would be crucial to bring about effective solutions, and that society needed to start looking at access to comprehensive sexuality education as “a natural part of growing up”.

“The public, especially adults, need to be aware of the fact that comprehensive sexuality education does not solely involve learning about ‘sex’ as many believe it to be.

“Comprehensive sexuality education actually encompasses learning about physical development, including sexual and reproductive health knowledge; gender identity; boundaries and consent; healthy relationships; friendships and social issues; to name a few components.

“It sits within the broader area of relationships which encourage children to understand and develop skills that will help them interact in a positive, respectful and supportive way with others, ” PS The Children said in a statement Wednesday (Dec 11), in reference to a case where an 18-year-old woman who is deaf and mute was allegedly raped by three teenagers.

The victim had used sign language to tell her father of the assault and identified the suspects who were aged between 14 and 16.

PS The Children added that comprehensive sexuality education would eventually reduce the risk of a child victimising others and also increase a child’s capacity to speak up and reach out for help when in harm’s way.

It noted that the recent rise in cases of child-on-child harm – such as children sexually harming other children – has caused alarm among the general public, adding that it was important that any action must take into consideration the underlying root cause.

“Should our focus be just the law, punitive measures and punishment? Or are there other important aspects that we need to explore when addressing this issue?” it said.

PS The Children added that since it believes that all children have the right to protection, even children in conflict with the law, it hoped that the accused children will be provided the necessary legal support.

“We hope that survivor too will be provided with the support and help needed during this traumatic time.

“Children who have sexually harmed other children have specific developmental needs that need to be addressed and could also pose unique risks related to their sexually harmful behaviours – which also need to be addressed.

“It is necessary to put into place treatment strategies and programmes that meet and address the developmental needs of these children … (who) require support through therapy and counselling to unpack and manage the learned behaviours from an adult or through their own experiences of abuse, ” it said.
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Learn the right technique to teach sexuality education for adolescents with special needs

Sunday, December 1st, 2019
HAVING the birds and the bees talk with your children is never easy –what more with children with special needs.

“Parents of adolescents with special needs should be aware and understand the techniques in delivering the correct information to their children about sexuality education and other sexuality-related issues such as their physical development and changes in their bodies,” says Prof Dr. Loh Sau Cheong.

To prevent further misunderstanding, physical and emotional harm, proper and correct sexuality education is crucial in helping the adolescents with special needs grow healthily towards adulthood, she adds.

It is with this aim that the National Association of Special Education (NASE Malaysia) is collaborating with NGO Protect and Save the Children to organise a sexuality education seminar for adolescents with special needs this coming Saturday, Dec 7, at Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur.

Apart from delivering knowledge and techniques regarding sexuality education to parents, caretakers and teachers involved with adolescents with special needs, the seminar aims at raising awareness of sexuality education in the community.

“Most of Malaysian schools will mainly focus on sex education instead of sexuality education. Sex education teaches mainly about human bodies.

“However, sexuality education includes other issues such as emotional relations and responsibilities,” explains Prof Loh, who is also honorary secretary of NASE.

She points out that information and materials on sexuality education for adolescent with special needs are limited and hard to be obtain.

“With the seminar, we hope we can reach out to individuals and groups who are associated or working closely with adolescents with special needs,” she says.

Stakeholders need to be well prepared and equipped with the right knowledge and skills to handle adolescent with special needs sexual development, Shaney Cheng, senior case worker from Protect and Save the Children, concurs.

Cheng, who is one of the speakers at the seminar, says it is vital to to teach sexuality education to adolescent with special needs sensitively and effectively.

Cheng will also share tips on protecting adolescents with special needs from sexual violence and sexual harassment, as well as how to handle these special children’s trauma if they become victims.

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Fashion industry’s shame

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019
The Human Rights Watch launched a report detailing cases of sexual harassment in garment factories and urged apparel companies to address the issue head on.

THE global #MeToo movement has put a spotlight on sexual harassment and violence in various industries, including the film and music industries. Is it now time for the fashion industry to address these issues within their supply chains?

Coinciding with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Forum on Due Diligence in the Garment and Footwear Sector, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) launched a report detailing cases of sexual harassment in garment factories and urged apparel companies to address the issue head on.

“Women shouldn’t have to choose between dignity and jobs, and the constant struggle to keep a job and put food on the plate means women often feel compelled to swallow their dignity and normalise sexual harassment at work,” Aruna Kashyap from HRW’s Women’s Rights Division told IPS.

Around the world, millions of women are employed by the US$2.4 trillion (RM9.8 trillion) apparel industry. But because of their gender, they face numerous challenges including sexual and verbal harassment.

Roja, a 30-year-old factory worker in India, told HRW that her supervisor stalked and called her asking for sexual favours. When Roja filed a complaint, the factory’s administration told her that such harassment was “normal”.

In Pakistan, women received threats that they would be fired after complaining to human resources about cases of sexual harassment.

In the same factory, managers also threatened to transfer workers who refused overtime work to divisions with more men where the risk of harassment was even higher.

HRW noted that verbal abuse is also common across countries.

For example, in Myanmar managers verbally abused women after they asked for clean toilets especially when they were menstruating while supervisors in India asked inappropriate questions about workers’ sex lives when they asked for breaks to relieve their menstrual cramps.

Others are too afraid to file formal complaints, including a group of 11 women workers from a southern Indian factory who wrote to a local union stating: “We have to hear unbearable abuses at work…we are tired of hearing such abuses…we have come here to the city from another place to earn money. We too have self-respect and dignity… we want justice, is it our fault that we are poor?”

While countries such as India and Pakistan do have laws around sexual harassment at work, they are often poorly enforced.

Additionally, 59 countries do not have specific legal remedies for sexual harassment in employment.

In the absence of regulation, companies conduct social audits to monitor conditions in factories. However, such audits often fail to adequately address and report cases of sexual harassment.

For instance, auditors reportedly conducted a combination of group and individual interviews on-site. By conducting interviews on-site, workers do not have full confidentiality and as workers are generally randomly selected for interviews, management knows or can find out who is participating.

Group interviews also make it difficult for workers to raise sexual harassment concerns and thus create an unconducive environment to learn about women’s experiences. Additionally, of the 50 audit reports analysed, HRW found that a majority did not note any abuse.

“Companies that rely on social audits to fix sexual harassment are exposing their own ignorance of the limitations of these audit tools and the range of measures needed to address the problems,” Kashyap said.

She highlighted the need for companies to design specialised programmes with the participation of women workers and to “look inwards and correct their own practices”.

For instance, Kashyap pointed to the higher incidence of verbal abuse during peak seasons. Brands should therefore look into their purchasing practices to ensure they do not contribute to such abuses in their factories.

HRW has also been behind a global push for a new binding International Labour Organisation (ILO) treaty to prevent and respond to harassment and violence at work.

“If there is a binding ILO Convention on violence and harassment at work, governments will have to develop law and bolster their implementation of it.

“There will be more clearly defined responsibilities vis-a-vis governments and employers, with more government resources dedicated to developing and enforcing such laws than what currently exists today,” Kashyap said.

She noted the benefits for both workers and companies, and urged corporations to help lead the charge on the new initiative which is expected to come to fruition during the ILO Conference in June.


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More to sexuality education

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

Countries in the region increasingly acknowledge the importance of equipping young people with the knowledge, attitudes and skills to make responsible choices in their lives

PICTURE this. A nine-year-old in Malaysia, reading about a character named Amira in a school textbook, is told to take three steps to protect the “modesty of her genitals” and keep social ostracisation and family shame at bay. Imagine. The societal pressure, responsibility and burden on girls to conform. Imagine the victim blaming should they “fail” to do so.

The social media outcry in Malaysia was swift, with the story carried by global news outlets. The textbook in question has not been recalled, however, and it will take much more than a Band-Aid – the Education Ministry has put a sticker to cover the graphic – to enable all children and young people in Malaysia to experience healthy, equitable and respectful relationships as they transition to adulthood.

According to a BBC report dated Jan 16, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching referred to a failure of quality control, pointing out that that “the general understanding on sex education is still low”.

Comprehensive andaccurate

Now picture this. A syllabus for sexuality education in Malaysia that is comprehensive, scientifically accurate; age and developmentally appropriate, taking into account the changing needs and capabilities of a child and young person as they grow; based on gender equality and a human rights approach; and culturally relevant.

The revised International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education (ITGSE) released by Unesco in 2018 was developed to assist education, health and other stakeholders in the development and implementation of school-based and out-of-school comprehensive sexuality education programmes and materials.

Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is defined by the guidance as a “curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality.

CSE aims to equip children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will empower them to: realise their health, well-being and dignity; develop respectful social and sexual relationships; consider how their choices affect their own well-being and that of others; and, understand and ensure the protection of their rights throughout their lives.”

A 2016 review of available evidence on the effectiveness of CSE concludes that sexuality education has positive effects, including increasing knowledge about different aspects of sexuality, behaviours and risks of pregnancy or HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Strong evidence also concludes that sexuality education improves attitudes related to sexual and reproductive health and increases communication with parents about sex and relationships. Studies also show that CSE is effective in preventing and reducing early and unintended pregnancies in different contexts.

Provided in or out of schools, CSE does not increase sexual activity, sexual risk-taking behaviour or STI/HIV infection rates, a common concern expressed by education stakeholders.

Equally important is the finding that abstinence-only programmes have been found to be ineffective in delaying sexual initiation, reducing the frequency of sex or reducing the number of sexual partners. Due to the gender transformative approach of CSE, the evolving understanding of CSE recognises that this kind of education can also contribute to wider outcomes such as gender equitable attitudes, confidence and self-identity.

Countries in the region increasingly acknowledge the importance of equipping young people with the knowledge, attitudes and skills to make responsible choices in their lives, particularly in contexts where they are exposed to a range of information sources, which may not always be accurate or age appropriate. A recent UNESCO campaign on CSE “A foundation for life and love” captures the voices of young people and their families from around the world, reflecting on their experiences of sexuality education, and what they wish they had learned.

In a 2011 study by the Centre for General Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), an overwhelming majority of respondents were of the view that sex education had not been taught in Malaysian schools. In another 2011 study by Universiti Malaya’s Department of Social Administration and Justice on the effectiveness of a school-based sexual abuse prevention curriculum, only 40 percent of nine-year-old respondents knew what to do in instances of an adult stranger touching them in an inappropriate manner. This strongly indicates that the sexuality education curriculum needs to provide the knowledge, attitudes and skills to enable children to protect themselves.

Malaysia is committed to the 2030 Agenda and its global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that calls for action to leave no one behind, and for the realisation of human rights and gender equality for all.

Data from 2017 from the Unesco Institute for Statistics (UIS) shows that Malaysia held the distinction of being part of a handful of countries from the region that reported on SDG indicator 4.7.2, which captures data on the proportion of primary schools that provide life skills-based HIV and sexuality education. Malaysia reported 100% coverage in primary schools.

This provides Malaysia with an opportunity to take a leadership role, to mobilise political commitment and to promote meaningful youth engagement, to review, strengthen and scale-up existing sexuality education programmes and materials in line with the latest evidence. This is essential to provide all children and young people in Malaysia with a foundation for life and love, in a world where gender-based violence, gender inequality, early and unintended pregnancies, and HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) still pose serious risks to their health and well-being.

The writer is the Regional Advisor (HIV and Health), Section for Inclusive Quality Education at Unesco Bangkok.

Note: An immediate revision has been ordered on a Year Three textbook critics say told girls they would be ostracised and bring disrepute to their families if they did not protect their modesty.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said she met with the department in charge of national school textbooks following outrage over the content in the Pendidikan Jasmani dan Kesihatan textbook.

By Kabir Singh
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Women’s Ministry to discuss on how to implement sex education in schools

Friday, January 11th, 2019
(File pix) Hannah Yeoh said records and statistics show that nine per cent of the total number of students in remove classes nationwide are sexually-active. NSTP/LUQMAN HAKIM ZUBIR
By Safeek Affendy Razali - January 10, 2019 @ 7:44pm

KUALA LUMPUR: The Women, Family and Community Ministry will engage the Education Ministry soon on how to create a sex education subject in schools.

Women, Family and Community Minister Hannah Yeoh said records and statistics show that nine per cent of the total number of students in remove classes nationwide are sexually-active.

She said she will personally meet Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching in the near future to facilitate the talks.

“For now, all quarters should extend their cooperation and share ideas on how to tackle the problem of sexual activity among students.

“To me, the figure that nine per cent of remove class students are sexually-active is a large one,” she said at the closing of a child abuse forum at the police college in Kuala Lumpur.

She said the meeting between her ministry and the Education Ministry could lead to a solution in ensuring that sex education can be implemented at all school levels.

She said failure to educate children on sex and leaving them to learn for themselves through social media could possibly ruin a generation.

“In this modern age, those as young as 13 already know about sex but they need to be given correct information.

“As such, sex education is important in our bid to deliver the correct message to our children,” she said.

Meanwhile, Yeoh said studies showed that mothers form the majority of abusers in child abuse cases in Malaysia, with 7,564 cases recorded nationwide between 2013 and last June.

The number of cases where fathers were the abusers numbered 5,012.

“This is a shocking finding as mothers are supposedly the ones closes to their children. Although existing laws are enough to tackle child abuse, prevention is the best approach to reduce the statistics,” she said.

Yeoh said the ministry is working with various agencies and non-governmental organisations to gather ideas on the best way to tackle the problem.

By Safeek Affendy Razali

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Parents can teach sex education

Sunday, October 28th, 2018
(File pix) As parents, we need to talk to our children to ensure that they get the right information. Archive image for illustration purposes only.

RECENTLY, when asked to comment on cases of abandoned babies, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh touched on the importance of providing sex education to children. She said sex education should start from young, as early as 4 years old and by parents.

Over the last two decades, sex education has been taboo for the young, and parents avoid discussing it. There are several reasons for this:

FIRST, the negative perception that people have of the word “sex”; and,

SECOND, the misunderstanding about the meaning and content of sex education.

Many equate sex education with teaching children how to have sex.

Avoiding sex discussions with children will not help as they are discussing it with their friends. Information about sex and pornographic videos are available.

As parents, we need to talk to our children to ensure that they get the right information.

The important thing to remember is that it must be the right information about sex education that is taught, for example, the reproductive system and how babies are conceived.

Children should be taught about modesty and how to protect their bodies and why.

As Yeoh says, a 4-year-old child needs to know the difference between a “good” and “bad” touch to prevent them from becoming victims of sexual crimes, which normally are committed by adults related to them.

Dr Abdullah Nasih Ulwan, an Islamic scholar who specialises in education and tarbiyah (nurturing), in his book, Child Education in Islam, wrote that parents are responsible for teaching their children faith education, ethical education, physical education, mental education, psychological education, social education and sexual education.

Clearly, one of the parental responsibilities is to teach sex education to children. But how many parents are aware of this? How many know the content of sex education from an Islamic perspective? Do they know how to impart the knowledge to children?

In Islam, sex education is about teaching children from an early age what is lawful and unlawful for them when they reach puberty so that they are not driven by desires or led by debauchery.

Sex education in Islam encompasses the teaching of manners in asking permission to enter the parents’ bedroom; the teaching of manners in looking at the opposite sex; keeping children away from objects that can arouse them sexually; educating children on hukm , or legal ruling governing puberty and maturity; explaining to them Islam’s stand on marriage; teaching children about abstinence in situations where they cannot get married; and talking to children about sex .

Dr Ulwan says parents are the best persons to impart sex knowledge to children.

Moreover, Islam has outlined that the teaching be done in phases, that is, according to the children’s ages. It is a continuous process starting from preschool.

In the United States, for example, the involvement of parents in providing sex education to children began more than a decade ago through parent intervention programmes. These programmes have reduced risky sexual behaviours in adolescents.

The programmes have restored the function of teaching sex education to parents. Perhaps this could be emulated in our education system? Have sex education for parents, engage them in discussions and forums to raise awareness ab out the subject

By Siti Fatimah Abdul Rahman .

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Sabah to combat child marriage

Friday, July 6th, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah agrees with the federal government’s proposal to increase the marrying age of girls from 16 to 18 in a bid to combat child marriage.

For starters, Sabah school counsellors will be equipped in August this year with a module to deter child marriages State Health and People’s Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wong said this proposal which came following the controversial marriage between an 11-year-old girl and a 41-year-old man, was necessary.

He said the Sabah Women’s Advisory Council has drawn up an interactive module to all counsellors in schools to educate students on the negative impact of child marriage.

“Schools can make use of this module (which was launched in March this year), to create more awareness among students on the issue,” Wong said.

“The module will be used by any facilitator with the aim of decreasing or avoiding more underage girls getting married.”

He hopes this module could help to reduce child marriage in the country.

“Programmes relating to this issue is expected to start in August with the collaboration with the Sabah Education Department,” he said yesterday.

Wong said this when winding up debates at the state legislative assembly sitting here. Earlier in the sitting, he also said that the state government will have discussions with the federal government on ways to reduce medicine costs in Sabah.

Wong said he supports Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s aim to increase the minimum marriage age from 16 to 18.

Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister had said that laws should be amended to make it illegal for any girl or boy to get married before they turned 18.

“My ministry agrees completely with the statement by the Women, Family and Community Development Minister to amend Islamic family and civil law and set the minimum age at 18 for girls in the country,” Wong said.

His ministry was formerly known as the Community Development and Consumer Affairs Ministry but was changed when Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over Putrajaya after the May 9 polls.

Child marriages are in the spotlight again after it was reported that a 41-year-old imam from Gua Musang, Kelantan took an 11-year-old Thai girl as his third wife.

Dr Wan Azizah had proposed that the minimum age of marriage for girls in the country be increased during the coming Parliament sitting.

The current minimum age of marriage is 16 for Muslim girls and 18 for Muslim boys, with exceptions made to marry at a much younger age as long as consent is obtained from the Islamic courts.

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