Malaysia Prepares to Openly Discuss Sex

Kat Khan
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Conservative, mainly Muslim Malaysia will begin introducing sex education in schools as part of efforts to combat sex crimes and Internet porn in 2006.

Education Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said sex education would start from pre-school level, where children are aged four to six, and would extend to university level and community programs for adults.

The move to introduce sex education into schools and the community marks a radical shift for Malaysia, where sex remains a taboo subject despite it being one of the Islamic world’s most developed countries.

“If we can ensure the guideline is understood, community leaders cannot only influence certain parents and family units but also change the society’s perception, that this matter is serious,” Hussein said.

Children from the age of four would likely be taught how to protect themselves from sexual predators while older kids will learn about a range of subjects from human reproduction to masturbation and safe sex, Hussein said.

“We are faced with various forms of sexual crimes: Internet pornography, incest, pre-marital sex, sexual abuse and harassment and pedophilia,” Hussein said. “Other issues related to the rampant social ills should be taken into account in our effort, such as rape, incest, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and child abuse.”

He added that the issues are expected to be addressed by the guidelines for the program, which will launch in February following cabinet approval. He said the guidelines may also tackle “new phenomena such as indecent elements in the Internet” and other still-taboo subjects.

Rather than being taught as a separate subject, aspects of sexuality education would be included in school subjects such as Islamic studies, health, science and biology, Hussein said.