UN issues revised guidelines on sex education

Published: January 14, 2018
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As a result of poverty and education, the majority of youth are not aware of their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights.

As a result of poverty and education, the majority of youth are not aware of their Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights.

The United Nations bodies have issued a revised technical guidance on sexuality education with an aim to enable concerned authorities to design comprehensive curricula that will have a positive impact on young people’s health and wellbeing.

The ‘International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education 2018’—a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune has been compiled by UNAIDS, the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Women and World Health Organisation (WHO) and released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

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The revised version of the technical guidance is actually a framework based on international best practices as well as latest scientific evidence and is designed to support countries to implement effective sexuality education programmes adapted to their contexts.

The objective behind publishing technical guidance is to help to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to young people’s wellbeing, education and health set for 2030.

Karachi Interactive Research and Development’s Youth Engagement Programme Director Qadeer Baig said, “Unfortunately in Pakistan talking about ‘sexuality education’ or sexual reproductive health rights is still considered as a taboo and a bumpy ride.”

Baig, who represented Pakistan and Asia region during consultation process on revised technical guidance, said that after eight-year-old Zainab’s tragic incident (rape and murder) which has shocked the nation, a need for including life skill-based education (LSBE) in national and provincial curriculum for schools has been seriously felt.

“Pakistan currently lacks an appropriate framework that guides the school curriculum’s reform process,” he said.

However, the ‘International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education 2018’ released by UNESCO this week in collaboration with other UN agencies is very timely and provides a framework that could help Pakistan to effectively include LSBE in its curriculum.

“The technical guidance that focuses on five to 16-year olds provides a solid base for designing a robust educational framework for different age groups to enhance their knowledge, skills and attitude to deal with the issue of growing up and handle problems of harassment, molestation and rape,” he said.

Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman Dr Qibla Ayaz said that no doubt by including sexual education in curriculum will be a positive step while considering the gravity of the situation.

“However, one thing we need to understand and consider is that such kind of information should be taught to the students who have understanding of these issues, otherwise by educating immature minds the situation could further aggravate,” he said.

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He said that this kind of education should start in homes where mothers could teach their children about issues related to their sexual reproductive health.

On Zainab’s incident, National Commissioners for Children at Federal Ombudsman Focal Person Viqar Un Nisa said that the Federal Ombudsman in collaboration with UNICEF will carry out a need-based assessment of child sexual assault in Kasur.

“The focus of the study will be on pattern of crime and flaws in law enforcing agencies and their mechanism for providing protection to children in the area,” she said.

Moreover under this project, focus will also be on rehabilitation of the victims and their families.

“Currently, no one is thinking about the children in Kasur who have faced worst form of sexual abuse and their families who are badly traumatised,” she said.

Therefore, the Federal Ombudsman will provide psychological counseling and work on their rehabilitation, she added.

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