WAFIQ (International Women’s Alliance for Family Institution and Quality Education) refers to the letter by Dr Kamal Kenny that appeared in The Star on July 2 (“Sex ed empowers our young”; online at bit.ly/star_sexed).
There is no doubt that the crime he highlighted, of a boy being sodomised by a father, is shocking and requires intervention. We welcome education on reproductive biology, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and how to recognise safe and unsafe touch. However, we completely disagree on using the Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) syllabus as promoted by the International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF), not just because of the questionable origin and philosophy of CSE and the IPPF, but also because the “rights-based”, or rather what should be called the “desire-based”, approach to sex education will not yield a successful outcome.
The basic problem with CSE is its amoral and relativistic approach, which separates human sexuality from its inherent value when practised within a marriage. When we teach sex education without a moral framework, it undermines young people’s ability to comprehend the profound implications of sexual behaviour.
It is not enough to understand reproductive biology and STIs. Young people need to learn how to manage and discipline desires. CSE reduces sex to a biological instinct and this deprives young people of the capacity to distinguish between genuine love and sexual exploitation that, needless to say, will not prevent sexual crimes.
As would be expected, those who subscribe to CSE as promoted by the IPPF completely disregard sexual abstinence or avoidance programmes. Simply saying that “they will do it anyway” is a defeatist attitude. One cannot advocate abstinence without empowering young people with the knowledge to make abstinence successful.
This includes avoidance of vulgarity entering through the eyes and ears, gender segregation (including at school) and the resistance to the normalisation of sexual mores brought by CSE-influenced sources. Most importantly, we cannot discount the overwhelming hypersexualising role of the media, in particular ubiquitous pornography.
Though its practitioners may be well-intentioned, CSE does not offer a solution to sexual crimes. On the contrary, it is part of the problem, since it fails to develop young people’s capacity to differentiate between genuine love and sexual exploitation.
What is needed is a form of sexual education that is oriented to married love and the virtues required by a stable nuclear family. Sex education must be imbued with a sense of responsibility in managing sexual desire as guided by our values.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR DR RAFIDAH HANIM MOKHTAR
International Women’s Alliance For Family Institution and Quality Education