A prominent social activist has called for a more comprehensive approach to sex education amid statistics showing that tens of thousands of underage girls in the country are believed to get pregnant every year, leading to cases of abortion and baby dumping.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, Marina Mahathir said sex education should go beyond the biological aspect of sexual reproduction with students exposed to other topics as well.
These include the emotional changes that adolescents experience, issues linked to gender identity and equality, and preventive sex education.
“Biology is only one part of sex education,” she said.
“Although it is important, we need to talk about what happens when people have sex, including babies and STDs and, of course, how to prevent those.”
“Biology is only one part of sex education.”
Recent research indicates that as many as 18,000 teenagers in Malaysia are believed to get pregnant each year.
Former women, family and community development minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail previously said that over 1,000 cases of baby dumping had been recorded from 2010 to May 2019.
But such numbers are not new.
Children’s rights advocate James Nayagam said the education department had planned to introduce preventive sex education, also known as community health education, some 25 years ago due to the rising number of social issues among youth even then.
The proposal had aimed to inform minors about the consequences of unprotected or unplanned sex, the use of contraceptives such as condoms and pills, and alternatives to abortion, among others.
However, the plan never materialised.
Nayagam said religious groups were unhappy about the proposal and had opposed it, saying it would encourage minors to have sex.