Sexual education – what happens when you educate a girl?
“Every young person will one day have life-changing decisions to make about their sexual and reproductive health. Yet research shows that the majority of adolescents lack the knowledge required to make those decisions responsibly, leaving them vulnerable to coercion, sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy.” -UNFPA
Sexual education improves the lives, dignity and knowledge for every single person in the world. Sexual education helps define healthy/unhealthy relationships, consent, safety and human rights which is vital knowledge for absolutely everyone. Right?
It’s no shocker that caught up in all the wrongs of the world are our young girls and women who are most at risks of HIV, aids, unwanted and unsafe pregnancies and abortions, STD’s, sexual assault and exploitation. This is especially unsurprising when 120 million girls don’t even have a basic education yet alone a sexual education.
Travelling is amazing and opens your eyes to many differences around the world including some of my main interests such as sex in society, prostitution, trafficking and how the women and girls of the world fit into all of this. It’s apparent that sexual education, knowledge and awareness is sometimes non-existent in many countries around the world.
This means that some girls around the world have their monthly periods and have no idea why they’re bleeding, if it’s normal, if it’s natural and what their body is even doing. It means that for some girls they are locked in their homes during these times, stopped from going to school and forced to using unsanitary solutions in shame.
This means that 125 million girls and women alive today have undergone various forms of female genital mutilation without the knowledge as to why they’re being mutilated, what their rights are, and even the full knowledge of why they have genitals in the first place.
This means that people are unaware of their right to consent and safety and are fully exploited by people who see dollar signs all over their female flesh. This means that people visiting brothels whether they’re in Amsterdam, India or London are usually unaware or don’t care that the human being who is there to ‘give them a good time’ is more than likely to be there not out of choice, but out of force, bribery, slavery, trafficking and fully stripped from their rights, safety and voice.
There are approximately 20-30 million slaves in the world today. 80% of these humans are sexually exploited. 80% of these humans are women and girls. Still not shocked?
Conversations with a friend in Peru brought to light the situation of women and contraception in the country. He explained how it’s mostly women prostitutes who are on the pill which completely took me back as a young woman on the pill herself. In the UK, most women I know are on some form of contraception and for so many different reasons. It shocked me that perhaps the knowledge and availability of contraception might not be accessible or encouraged for all females, and not just sex workers.
This also reminded me of my experience with a man in Indonesia who hosted me and a friend and allowed us to attend a double circumsion ceremony for two boys aged 11 and 7. The conversations that followed will always be with me. He spoke about how his wife every month has bloody clothes but was unsure why. Especially surprising as they had two children together including a daughter who had also undergone FGM. Yet, he had no knowledge about the female body, what happened at his children’s births, why his wife has bloody clothes every month, and also how sex can be for pleasure and not just for reproduction. The knowledge and tradition that he did possess was that the female genital is actually seen to be ‘unclean’ in his community and is in a much better state once cut or mutilated.
As a woman who has grown up in a country where sex education may be basic but still teaches all the essentials, where I freely and openly talk about my body, health, sex and sexuality with my friend, family, nurses and teachers, where my further studies have opened my eyes to the dangers surrounding the female body regarding rape, FGM, assault, and inequalities, it never crossed my mind that these girls I want to protect and the men who live beside them might not even know how to have sex, or what a period even is.
“If an 11-year-old girl arrives in hospital pregnant, nobody says anything,” says Alvaro Serrano, director of the region for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). “Women and girls are dying because of poor sex education.” – The Guardian
It’s a pretty deep topic but further conversations with some European backpackers about their experiences with prostitutes, their ridiculous expectations and their absolute disrespect and disregard for the humans interacting with them spurred me on to further research, share my stories and help raise awareness on the importance of sexual education for everyone worldwide. Sexual education should not be based around fear, shame, religion or tradition but around health, dignity, humanity and for all those most affected, especially our women and girls.
What are your thoughts on sexual education? Is it helpful for young people? Are there any alternatives? Do you have any experiences that you want to share or talk about?
Feel free to drop me a message! (Find out how in the bio below)|
Thanks for reading guys!
My list of used resources and helpful websites…
On sex ed:
On trafficking and the rest:
Vanisha May is a criminology and sociology graduate from London. She has a passion for international development and issues related to education, crisis for refugees, conflict and gender inequalities. Her dream is to travel the world while understanding, learning and resolving inequalities faced for the affected people across the globe.