What is Comprehensive Sexual Education And Why Was It Not Taught In School? By Shehari Jayasooriya

This piece first appeared following a call for submissions in the Young Feminist Network by ESSL newsletter for the Month of November 2020

As Sri Lankans, our parents have never approved of teenage romances , it was always seen as a way of neglecting your education and “ going down the wrong path”. Even holding hands in public was done cautiously due to prying eyes everywhere , therefore kissing in public was completely out of question. It is becoming quite clear why Sex Ed was not taught in schools , in simple talking about sex was considered a taboo . Due to the much known conservative cultural norms in the country most victims of sexual abuse are to unwilling to come forth with their cases , women hesitate to discuss their sexuality , and parents are too shy to educate their children on sex .The national curriculum includes learning about reproduction system, I was told by many students that this was not taught properly or it was simply skipped at the convenience of the teacher. According to an article issued by UNESCO in 2018 , they describe comprehensive sexual education (CSE) as a process of learning about the cognitive , emotional , physical and social aspects of sexuality. CSE is a curriculum based teaching and it is not available in Sri Lanka.

Why do we need It so desperately?

Due to the lack of sex education , children are in dire need of proper guidance when it comes to protecting once self from sexual harassment and from preventing another getting abused , it is also very necessary to find means of helping sexually abused victims to cope and help overcome their fears. Due to the conservative cultural norms that has formed this nation , it is very difficult to bring in comprehensive sexual education into the National Curriculum but one must always try. Just in the first 15 days of 2020 , 142 incidents of rape were reported , 54 cases of child sexual abuse which include infants, and 42 cases of serious sexual abuse. UNICEF reported that between the period of 16th march to 7th April 2020 , child cruelty cases as a total rose from 10 per cent to 40 per cent. In regard of rape cases, according to statistics 11,998 incidents of rape, 4,806 of serious sexual abuse and 5,891 of child abuse were reported between 2012 to 2020. This means that on an average, over the past eight years at least four women or even children were being raped , this excludes the number of sexual harassment’s experienced on public transport. A study carried out by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) it was confirmed that 90 per cent of women in Sri Lanka has experienced some sort of sexual harassment in Public Transport.

Are women in Sri Lanka actually safe ? Is anyone actually safe from these predators?

Image Credit — Stichting Lobi Health Center

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Everystory Sri Lanka

Everystory Sri Lanka

Everystory Sri Lanka (formed in 2018) is a collective of young Sri Lankan feminists identifying as a storytelling collective.