Rocking Malaysia!

Y-SNAP in Malaysia recently got a chance to conduct capacity building in national level. 19 young people from all around Malaysia came and learn about SRHR for five days!

a lot of things discussed and all of them were agreed that youth participation is a must to ensure that the access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Youth Friendly services are widely available.

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Sex education helps young people make better choices

This article is originally published in The Guardian young people’s sexual health matters

Norhidayah Nadila, of Melaka in Malaysia, describes the impact of peer to peer education

In my society, the word “sexuality” is very sensitive.

We don’t discuss sexuality with the elders because they may think it’s not the right time yet.

I once asked my mother why sexuality and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues aren’t discussed. She told me that when she was younger, these issues were not discussed because people were ashamed; she was told she would learn by herself when she was grown up or married. That’s Asian culture, we hide in our shells when it comes to this topic.

I’m a 22-year-old girl, if I had any problem regarding SRH I would not turn to my parents because I feel ashamed and uncomfortable to talk about it. I would search for my friends to talk to.

Other young people might have the same problem and feel uncomfortable to talk about it with their parents. That’s why peer to peer education works. A peer educator is also a normal person who going through the same things as the normal teenager, so its not a problem to discuss about matters of SRH.

I became a peer educator in 2009 because I just wanted to spend my time doing something beneficial. I’m a youth co-ordinator, peer educator and facilitator for IPPF; I’ve been involved in talks, exhibitions, outreach activities in schools, juvenile institutions, higher institutions, shopping malls and public places, and worked on an outreach programme on HIV/Aids related activities funded by Malaysia’s ministry of health.

All of these projects advocate and provide education, promote a positive approach to young people’s sexuality and promote a non-presciptive, evidence-based and rights-based approach. These projects reach young people with diverse needs and sexual orientations.

Throughout out these projects, I have seen many young people still lacking knowledge about sexual and reproductive health and HIV/Aids.

When I think about what I have done, I remember that I have helped someone attain new and acccurate knowledge.

Whenever we finish a workshop, participants will ask me or my team members questions they have kept to themselves for a long time because they felt ashamed or uncomfortable to discuss them with an adult.

When you see someone asking questions or taking notes during a lecture, you are grateful because they are actually listening to us, to what we want to deliver.

By giving young people sex education, we can help them to make better decisions in the future. Some policymakers might think these issues are very sensitive and should not be discussed in public, but you cannot hide from them.

Take for an example, baby dumping. Why is this happening? This is because young people are not educated on how to handle the situation. They were not taught how to use emergency pills or condoms and when they get pregnant, they do not know where to turn for help. We cannot stop young people having sexual intercourse, but we can help by giving them choices.

Let’s talk about pleasure!

When we say the word ‘pleasure’ what comes to mind?

Pleasure is one part of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) that is the least discussed. We must be fair to acknowledge that pleasure is one of the driving forces that lead humans to do any sexual activity. Pleasure is about more than sexuality, it is also another way to see human sexuality in a positive manner.

Pleasure is one of the seven component of  IPPF CSE framework, hence we strongly encourage to incorporate this component in our CSE work among young people. With reference to the January 2010 IPPF framework on CSE, subjects around pleasure includes:

being positive about young peoples sexuality; understanding that sex should be enjoyable and not forced; that it is much more than just sexual intercourse; sexuality as part of everybodys life; the biology and emotions behind the human sexual response; gender and pleasure; sexual wellbeing; safer sex practices and pleasure; masturbation; love, lust and relationships; interpersonal communication; the diversity of sexuality; the first sexual experience; consent; alcohol and drugs and the implications of their use; addressing stigma associated with pleasure.

 

The question is: how do you present pleasure within the CSE curricula?

At the ESEAO Regional Comprehensive Sexuality Education workshop we held in Bangkok from 13th – 16th February 2012, we did a creative activity based around pleasure.

We started by asking the participants:

what does pleasure mean to them? what gives them pleasure?

 

Some of the answers we got were:

Talking with loved ones – Having sex – Watching porn – Holding hands – Orgasms – Hugs – Kisses

 

We also asked the participants to rate these activities and arrange what they considered to be highly pleasurable at the top and not as pleasurable at the bottom.

  • Walking hand in hand
  • Kissing
  • Intercourse
  • Deep kissing
  • Touching each other’s genitals
  • Rubbing against each other
  • Oral sex
  • Gazing in each other’s arms
  • Caressing his/her hair.

 

 

 

 

 

The activity helps us to realize the differences we all have in defining what we believe pleasure is to us. It is also important to recognize that not everyone has the same idea about pleasure and that pleasure is an important part of our sexual identity.

Do you want to try this games? 😀

Formulating advocacy messages on Comprehensive Sexuality Education: How do you make it?

Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) is inevitably a part of human rights. A good CSE will help young people to maintain a healthy and fulfilling life with adequate knowledge, skills, and attitudes that they need to make informed choices. A lot of research and studies have shown that CSE can help young people to abstain from or delay the debut of sexual relations; reduce the frequency of unprotected sexual activity; reduce the number of sexual partners; and increase the use of protection against unintended pregnancy, STIs and HIV during sexual intercourse.[1]

Within the context of the South-East Asia region, some countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have not started providing sexuality education as part of their school curriculum. On the other hand, in Vietnam, there are attempts to integrate sexuality education with some limitations which mostly focuses only on HIV and AIDS prevention.[2] There are still gaps in providing a Comprehensive Sexuality Education for young people and it is our chance to advocate filling these gaps. An advocacy effort to integrate CSE within the school curricula is a must.

The question is: How to formulate advocacy message for CSE, particularly to the government and relevant stakeholders? Here are some tools that you can use in developing an advocacy plan for CSE:

1. Use simple and more acceptable language: Family and Life skills education

Comprehensive sexuality education is quite a new term and the word ‘sexuality’ is somehow perceived as a taboo word. Some countries have used softer words such as family and life skills education. The content is actually the same and it is just named differently. This has been done in Thailand, where sexuality education has been taught in school since 1978 under the term ‘Life and Family Studies’. The content within this curricula is very much focused on reproductive system and personal hygiene.[3]

2. CSE program is a cost-effective program which can improve young peoples health

In 2010, UNESCO conduct a cost and cost-effectiveness study in six countries. This study showed that sexuality education does save cost. It also improves young people’s health outcomes, including reductions in unintended pregnancy, HIV infections and other STIs.[4] The outcome of the study is important for us, as we can use it to advocate among the governments to invest more in CSE within school curricula.

3. CSE is one of the commitments that must be fulfilled by the Government, it links with Millennium Development Goals.

Firstly we need to find out whether our governments are committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. If it is yes, then it is a political commitment made by them within the context of international relation to support these goals. CSE is linked with Millennium Development Goals point 2, 3, 5, and 6.[5]

MDGs 2: Achieve universal primary education

Introducing CSE within primary education helps young people to avoid unwanted pregnancies and other reproductive and sexual health problems.

MDGs 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

CSE curricula that offers specific topics such as gender role, sexuality, equality will empower young people especially young women to take control of their sexual and reproductive health and make decision related to their relationship. These topics will also help to sensitize young men on gender equality and to play a supportive role in promoting gender equality.

MDGs 5: Improve maternal health

CSE can help to achieve this goal by two ways. Firstly, by helping young women take control over their sexual and reproductive lives. It can reduce unwanted pregnancies and create a safer environment for childbearing. Secondly, comprehensive sexuality education can increase demand for and access to health services, including safe abortion services that are affordable, accessible, confidential and non-judgmental.

MDGs 6: Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases

CSE is undoubtedly an effective prevention strategy to reduce the transmission of HIV and other STIs. Aside from this, the issues of stigma and discrimination can be addressed. This will help young people feel more comfortable in accessing health services, particularly YKAP (Young Key Affected Population) such as young injected drug users, young men who have sex with men, young transgender, young sex workers, and young people living with HIV and AIDS


[1] International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education: An evidence-informed approach for schools, teachers, and health educator. UNESCO. 2009

[2] Reclaiming and Redefining Rights: Thematic Studies Series 1, Sexuality and Rights in Asia. ARROW. 2011

[3] Reclaiming and Redefining Rights: Thematic Studies Series 1, Sexuality and Rights in Asia. ARROW. 2011

[4] School-based Sexuality Education Programmes: A cost and cost-effectiveness analysis in six countries. UNESCO. 2011

[5] From evidence to action: Advocating for comprehensive sexuality education, IPPF July 2009