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Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) refers to the news report “More children born out of wedlock” (News Straits Times, 4 January 2001, front page). Firstly, it needs to be reminded and stressed that interaction between boys and girls is a natural dynamic, and this interaction can occur anywhere; from entertainment outlets to schools to bus stops. Because it is a natural and healthy phenomena, they will create a place to interact, and it is not limited to only nightclubs and entertainment outlets. This is a reality that has to be grasped, and in order for society to ensure that this interaction is healthy and respectful, it is important and necessary to institute sex education.
By sex education, WAO does not mean education on how to have sex. It is about the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and other forms of sexually transmitted diseases, as well as about responsibility, functions, consequences and hygiene. Apart from that, sex education must also incorporate the essential component of gender empowerment. In WAO’s experience, teenage girls have become pregnant because they were either duped, seduced, drugged or believed that it was the only way to hold on to their boyfriends. On the other hand, boys have the attitude that they can sow their wild oats and abandon their girlfriends without realising the gravity of the consequences. This attitude has to be challenged, and should be part and parcel of sex education. Girls and boys should be educated about power relationships, its dynamics and repercussions. Gender empowerment would also educate girls on their rights over their own bodies, and be made more aware of their right to say no without fear.
WAO looks forward to working with the Ministry of Women and Family Development to advocate the Ministry of Education to address this issue.
Women’s Aid Organisation