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Sex Education in Brunei, a No No

Sex education is an extremely taboo issue in the very Islam-conscious nation of Brunei. However a recent Borneo Bulletin headline “Teen mums worrying trend” (mirror), had kicked off some interest in the blogging circles. The bloggers feel that maybe it is high time for schools to start incorporating sex education into the curriculum.

Pre-marital sex (zina) is against the tenets of Islam and committing such an act would be enormously sinful. Therefore, many still believe that zina does not happen in the country, or at least not to a significant level. The commonplace idea is that, those who are not married typically abstain from having sexual relations.

However, that is not necessarily so. Jack from the Old Man's blog pointed out that we are “deluding” our naive selves if we believe that no one in Brunei practices pre-marital sex.

I find it sad that in Brunei, we still delude ourselves in thinking that Bruneians don't do these things. That only married couples have sex. We find it hard to accept that sex among teenagers are commonplace.

Jack argues that instead of just being blind to this fact, we should act upon it by educating the teenagers and equipping them with enough knowledge so that they could hopefully make real educated decisions about their own sex life rather than acting upon their instincts and curiosities without knowing of the consequences of their actions.

Of course, it is difficult to actually carry out sex education in schools because the Ministry, as fellow Muslims, they would not want to be seen endorsing and encouraging teens to experiment with sex. However, on the other hand, they are very concerned of the steep rise in babies born outside of marriage, which is also closely linked to another social problem – unwanted babies found in random thrash cans.

Allydee presented the argument eloquently in her blog:

On one hand, we're in a Muslim country and talking abt sex is a bit taboo. On the other hand, we can't ignore it given the fact that pre-marital sex is an ongoing issue in Brunei which leads to teen pregnancies which may lead to abortion or abandoned babies – it's a cause-and-effect. So in order to reduce the effects (teen pregnancies, abortion, abandoned babies) we need to address the cause (pre-marital sex).

LSM from Our Local Style understands the dilemma associated with this,

On one side you’ve got champions of morality and religious fervour who believe that sex education should not include information on contraceptives because such talk will only tempt youths into trying things for themselves. On the other extreme are those who push for better availability and understanding of contraceptives, as short-term a solution it may be, because it is far more desirable than seeing unwanted babies born.

However, the blogger proposed an alternative solution to this problem:

I propose that Brunei bloggers start championing sex education. I know a number of you guys are teachers (or teachers-to-be) and what better way to affect a change in the local education system than by answering a call for public opinion? Blog about sex education, tell us your story, post facts and myths about contraceptives, whatever.

So I kicked off the first post in answer to LSM's proposal and received positive comments regarding the issue. The discussion ranged from enforcement of abstinence by religious instructions to making students wear pregnant suits to teach them about responsibility and the risk of contracting ever rampant STDs.

It is not in our interests as bloggers to introduce sex ed posts to encourage teens to have sex. On the contrary, it is our humble hope that we can help to illustrate the huge responsibility that comes with having pre-marital sex, and also to point out the reality of some of the consequences that they might experience: STDs, teen pregnancies and in the worst case scenario- poor helpless abandoned babies.

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19 comments

  • […] Long overdue April 24, 2007 at 10:13 pm | In Global Voices Online, Brunei, Announcements | New article up on GVO. […]

  • EAGLE

    Sex Education should be the parents job..not school teachers

  • […] Sex education is an extremely taboo issue in the very Islam-conscious nation of Brunei. via Global Voices Online […]

  • fatoosh

    Sex Education: I do agree to a certain degree that Parents should do the explaining to their offspring on sex. BOTH parents, mind you, or guardians. The teachers can put up a syllabus to be completed by both parents and student/child. the syllabus content to be agreed by both parties. Teh content? Teh child should google or search such words as: sex; unprotected sex; condoms; contraceptive pills; morning after pill; abortion; HIV/AIDS; sexually transmitetd diseases; and such words…

    These are not emant to scare them okay…

    Then the child will write down what it means, and thsu will understand the repercussions of it. The parents/guardian always must state that they’ll be there no matter what question pops in their mind.

    This is my view… am sure there are other ways for a conservative society as Brunei to get over this issue. We don’t want to have unwanted babies found in secluded spots or worse, dead babies.

    We have watched movies and read books addressing this matter. Some paint a rosy picture where the child succeeded in life, but how many succeeds? if they don’t have the support, then how are they going to survive?

    That’s enough from me for now. be good boys and girls… mayeb we should start a ‘GUM Clinic’ and get free sex advise. let it be know that it’s free and all discussions remain private, regardless who wants to know about those who goes to the clinic.

    Those say aye, reply to this place okay?? cool dudes!!

  • […] sex ed classes in Brunei across the Brunei blogosphere mid-April, Maurina’s GVO sex ed article, LSM’s post about sex ed in Malaysia and my closet-pervert-excuse to check out explicit sites […]

  • Alma

    Parents feel uncomfortable talking about sex with their children, many uneducated parents themselves don’t know much about sex, sex is not only the pleasure but the whole thing. Therefore it’s very vital for children to learn about it at school, in groups children will feel more at ease learning sex/health than being at home and uneducated parents teaching them about sex. Brunei is an Islamic country and in many of them illiteracy level is very high, if parents have no education what sort of sexual health are they going to teach their children? the traditional stupid Islamic ways maybe, the one that during sexual intercourse coca-cola can prevent getting pregnant and so on.

  • fatoosh

    Recently, I hear on the radio reminding us about unwanted babies…the scenario was that a couple heard the sound of a baby coming from their front porch, upon checking, it was a newborn baby…

    With this in mind, we do need sex ed in Brunei, to create awareness. Yes, Brunei is a Muslim country, and that a conservative one. I agree that it should be presented to children and to parents at schools, separately, so that kids won’t feel shy or afraid to ask questions.

    Separately, so that the parents also know what is being taught at school.

    So, yes, Brunei need to be more pro-active in this issue. I know we are trying to increase our population, we need to do it the right way, to continue being a blessed country.

    May Allah, continue to bless this little nation on the island of Borneo, Aamin.

  • Alma

    Fanatism can be found in every single comment made by muslims. how disgusting

  • Alma, I assure you just because Brunei is an Islamic country, that does not mean that the illiteracy level is high. On the contrary, it is very low and is one of the lowest in the region. Most parents in Brunei might not all be highly educated but they do possess some form of elementary education at least, and that is only in the worst case scenarios.

    I think that not including parents in the whole sex education in Brunei thing would be a mistake, especially considering how sex is quite the taboo subject here. Just because they are not highly educated doesn’t mean they are all passive individuals.

    Frankly Alma, it is your sweeping statements that I find most disgusting. Offending Muslims or whatever other religious groups here is simply not the way to find solutions.

  • Alma

    Maurina, Offending? on what way? I guess you are not even aware of the illiteracy level of your country, what a shame, let me be useful and inform you that according to 2003 census female illiteracy level in Brunei was 11.5 % which is shocking by all means, being an Islamic country women are always inferior hence illiteracy level of 11.5 % in this developed era is simply unexpected.
    When asking your Allah for blessing you would be better off asking God for a basic education among the teens of your so called blessed lands.

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