Sex education remains a largely taboo topic in Pakistan

On the heels of a recent UNESCO initiative to improve access to and quality of girls’ education, a new program run by the Village Shadabad Organisation is bringing sex education to nearly 700 girls in eight schools in rural Pakistan. The program begins with eight year old girls and teaches them about puberty, rights, and what to do in case of an attack. “We cannot close our eyes,” said Akbar Lashari, head of the VSO. “[Sex is] a topic people don’t want to talk about, but it’s [a] fact of our life.”
 

 



Lashari says that sex education was the villagers’ idea. Parents are informed of the curriculum before enrollment, and none has objected yet, according to Lashari. The lessons also cover issues of marriage, including marital rape. “Our teacher has told us everything that we’ll have to do when we get married. Now we’ve learned what we should do and what we should not,” said Sajida Baloch, 16. In Pakistan, where marital rape is not a recognized crime, teaching the girls about the problem is a novel idea. “We tell them their husband can’t have sex with them if they are not willing,” Lashari said.

Sex education remains a largely taboo topic in Pakistan—Arshad Javed, a doctor in Lahore who has written three books on sex education says he sells 7,000 copies every year, but that none are bought by schools. “It is against our constitution and religion,” said Mirza Kashif Ali, president of the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation, representing 152,000 schools nationwide. “What’s the point of knowing about a thing you’re not supposed to do? It should not be allowed at school level,” he claimed. However, according Tahir Ashrafi, head of the Pakistan Ulema council alliance of moderate clerics, “If the teachers are female, they can give such information to girls within the limits of sharia law.”

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