POLITICALLY FRANK: Why are we failing in sex education, underage marriage, wedlock issues? ask MP

19 Aug 2022 10:00am
Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto
Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto
SHAH ALAM – Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto has urged authorities to revamp the nation’s sex education system, review underage marriage linked to poverty or young girls marrying older men and children born out of wedlock.

She said the existing sexual education syllabus in Malaysia is inadequate.

“There’s already a syllabus on sex education in Malaysia, but it’s just not enough,” she told Sinar Daily's Politically Frank.

Sex education needs to be discussed in an open and progressive way as youths remain inquisitive and it is on the government to provide the right guidance, she said as youths turn to social media to gain information, opening them to the wrong perception from unreliable sources.

If the government does not provide youths with proper sex education, other issues like unwanted pregnancies will follow suit.

Calling such cases a "little sexist", she said: "If the girl delivers the baby in a public toilet, they will find and charge her.

“As a young girl with so many things happening to her emotionally and physically, this is the outcome when the government does not address sex education,” she said.

When asked about children born out of wedlock in Malaysia, she said the government needs to review such cases to avoid children being ostracised by public for what their parents did.

“It is something that is really like a curse that the child has to carry throughout his or her life.
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“The Malaysian public and the government cannot allow that to happen because in Malaysia this sort of stigma or title follows you for life, makes you look like a social outcast and I think we need to review this,” she said.

Due to that, she said a review of sex education syllabus is needed as children in vernacular schools might not be receiving the same access to sex education as children from other schools.

The stigma of sex education in vernacular schools may be higher in vernacular schools, she added.

“When I first spoke about it in Parliament, I remember hearing male MPs giggling in Parliament like school boys. It made me think that they looked at sex education as just sex.

“When there is so much of a conversation regarding sex education, there’s privacy and space, respect, rape, sexual offences against children, sexually transmitted disease, as well as unwanted pregnancies,” she said.

She added data shows also shows youths often ask their friends about sex education. “How much knowledge does a 15-year-old have on sex or sex education to impart to his or her friends? And I think that’s the problem,” she said.

Young girls marry older men

The DAP MP further said it is crucial for the government to raise minimum age from 16 to 18 years old.

“I think this is a no-brainer,” she said as child marriages are closely linked to poverty.

Furthermore, sometimes poverty drives families to marry their children at a young age to older men or teenagers in a "sweetheart marriage".

She urged putrajaya not to politicise these issues as it concerns the future of Malaysian youths.

“If we look at classical examples of countries that allow child marriage, you see the horrific stories of what happened to young girls and boys. They drop out of school, they cannot contribute to the economy of the country, gender-based violence is very high, young boys are thrown into slavery, and so forth,” she said.