Are Malaysian Youth Suffering From Lack of Sex Ed?

A young Malaysian woman watches contestants perform in Malaysia's reality TV competiton Young Imam in Kuala Lumpur on July 30, 2010. (Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images)

The issues of teenage pregnancy and baby dumping aren't unique to any one country. But solutions to these problems are especially difficult to come by in countries like Malaysia, where strict religious values conflict with sex education.

The Malaysian Education Ministry has recently started encouraging students to submit written pledges stating that they will not engage in premarital sex. Malacca Chief Minster Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam says that the state plans to open a special school for pregnant teens to put a stop to "baby dumping." But many people, including The Nut Graph contributor Gan Pei Ling, say that these proposed solutions barely scratch the surface of the issue.

According to Ling, it's no wonder that young people in Malaysia are confused or ignorant about sex. TV shows and media feature young unmarried couples having sex, gay men in loving relationships, and scantily dressed women appear in ads all over the country. Yet, sex before marriage is officially forbidden, sodomy is a crime, and politicians say that scantily dressed women cause rape and sexual harassment. Combine these conflicting messages with a complete lack of sex education, Ling says, and government officials and parents are asking for trouble. 

"Our youth need accurate information on contraception andbirth control so that they can protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections—including HIV/AIDS—and unwanted pregnancies, before or during marriage," says Ling in an article appearing in The Nut Graph"Not talking about sex: At whose expense?”