In a first, Pakistani medical school will offer sex-ed

October 9, 2012 • Reproductive Health, Asia/Pacific, News

The following article, which appeared in the Oct. 8th edition of the Washington Post, tells of the first known sex-ed class ever to be taught in an undergraduate Pakistani medical college — certainly welcome progress.

In a first, Pakistani medical school will offer sex-ed


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – In the United States, “health class” has introduced generations of snickering sixth-graders to the fundamentals of sex.

But the terms “sex” and “education” are a mismatch in Pakistan: The subject simply is not taught in schools. Traditional cultural values have prevented any formal integration of the basics of the birds and the bees into the Islam-based education system.


Here, young people mainly learn about sex from whispered conversations with their schoolyard friends, or by experience. Many Pakistanis say their parents were loath to give them the facts about reproduction.


That leaves great room for misinformation, unsafe practices, uncontrolled family size, and abortion as a method of birth control, health advocates say.


The Koran strictly prohibits sex outside marriage. Many institutions here take that mandate so seriously that the very topic of sex has become taboo with teachers, and even family physicians shy away from broaching the subject with patients (including married ones).


The prohibition extends from primary schools to colleges. And, until now, no comprehensive sexuality courses have been taught in undergraduate medical colleges. Last month Dow University of Health Sciences, based in Karachi, announced that it will integrate reproductive health education into its curriculum beginning next academic year. The medical college said its future doctors will become prepared to treat patients for sexual and reproductive-related problems.


“So when we talk of infections, we will talk of reproductive infections,” said Sikander Sohani of the nonprofit organization Aahung, which collaborated with Dow University on developing the curriculum. “When we talk of [medical] history-taking, we will talk about taking reproductive health history as well. So it is a holistic approach.”

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