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Education about human sexual health, anatomy, intercourse, reproduction and other sexual features is generally termed as sex education. More specifically, it gives a student useful information about various emotional and physical changes relating to puberty, proper use of contraceptives, family planning, and various harmful sexual relations. Its major purpose is to minimize the risk of severe outcomes of unsafe sexual behavior like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancies. So, with the increase in number of STDs and unplanned pregnancies, need for sex education increased all over the world. Pakistan, being a highly populated country, is also in grave need of sex education but, presently, it is also opposed on several grounds. Although the opponents of sex education argue that this education is un-Islamic and motivates a student towards sex, nevertheless, it should be taught on university level because it will help Pakistan in population control and in creating awareness against STDs.
Academic institution is better option for sex education. Classrooms are formal and well organized structures for receiving any kind of knowledge. Also, well educated and trained teachers in such sensitive field of education are much reliable as compared to anybody in outside society. Actually, in Islam, it is the duty of parents to guide their children about various sexual matters but since in our society parents feel uncomfortable to educate their children about sexuality, academic institutions are the best alternative available. So, in Pakistan, sex education should be taught in academic institutions.
Among academic institutions, university is the most suitable place for sex education. Most importantly, on university level, almost every student is physically and mentally mature enough to understand the subject. Also, in schools or colleges, it is difficult for an adolescent to understand the details specifically in anatomy and physiology. Moreover, after graduation from university, marital life of majority of students starts, of which, sex is a formal and legal part. So, this increases the need of educating a university level student about safe and protected sex.
However, due to the conservative nature of Pakistani society, sex education is considered immoral and embarrassing. Even, according to many people, it is against the Islamic code of conduct to educate and guide young ones about sexual matters. But, within Islam there is enough proof and evidence to refute and discourage these claims. For instance, God is discussing topics like reproduction, creation, menstruation in the Holy Quran with great detail. Similarly, despite his highly sacred and respected personality, Prophet (P.B.U.H) discussed and answered queries about various sexual matters in large gatherings, without any hesitation. So, being a Muslim, one should not feel ashamed or embarrassed while discussing sexual issues.
Furthermore, sex education is criticized mainly due the misconception that it motivates students towards having sex. Actually, sex education neither discourages nor encourages a student to engage in sexual activities. It only provides useful knowledge about proper and safe sex. Moreover, it depends upon the choice and conscious of a person whether to go for sex or not. And, fortunately, in Pakistan religion is given a considerable value and preference; which can play an important role in restricting a student from indulging in pre marital sex activities. Similarly, in Pakistan, if single gender classes system is introduced for sex education in universities, where the teacher is also of the same gender as of students, the risk of student indulging in sexual activities can be reduced to negligible level. So, if the goal is to only educate, inform and guide a student about the realities and facts of sexual life, sex education is by no means a motivating force towards sex.
Sex education can rather act as a weapon against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Those diseases which are transmitted from one person to other by sexual contact are termed as STDs.  HIV/AIDs and Hepatitis are two of the major STDs prevailing in the country. According to Bhurgri (Department of Pathology, Agha Khan University), about 73,000 cases of HIV have been reported in Pakistan (1). Similarly, “one out of every ten Pakistanis suffers from either Hepatitis B or C” (Raza 1). Apart from these two STDs, many other like Chlamydia, genital, heroes, syphilis, gonorrhea etc are also reported in Pakistan. So, it can be inferred that STDs are prevailing in the country on a threatening level.
These diseases, if not controlled, can cause severe problems for our country. For instance, health sector of the country is already under a lot of stress and provided health facilities are unsatisfactory. If STDs are not given due attention at present, it will become much difficult for already weak health sector to control them. Apart from this, these diseases have the potential to create severe economic crisis for a poor country like Pakistan. In this context, the economic impact of HIV on African economy can be taken as example. According to Dixon, McDonald and Roberts “the pandemic has already reduced average national economic growth rate by 2-4 percent a year across Africa” (1). So, STDs have the potential to create great problems for the country.
In the meantime, these diseases can be easily controlled through sex education. Most of STDs are preventive in nature rather than curative i.e. prevention from these diseases is easier as compared to their treatment. Prevention, on the part of a person, merely requires knowledge about safe sex i.e. proper use of contraceptives and distance from harmful sexual relations. So, Pakistan can be easily safeguarded from them by creating awareness among the public about unprotected sex. Moreover, for the purpose of creating awareness, Pakistan has no better option than to educate all the university level students through a regular and comprehensive sex education. So, it is the need of the hour to implement proper sex education system in the country.
Besides protection from STDs, sex education can be helpful in controlling overpopulation. In Pakistan, the size of population is far greater than the amount of available resources. This has resulted in problems like poverty, unemployment, food shortage and low literacy rate. Nevertheless, this problem of overpopulation can be solved by eliminating unwanted pregnancies and by introducing the knowledge of family planning. So, sex education can play an important role in controlling overpopulation.
    Many cases of unwanted pregnancies are reported every year in Pakistan. If a woman is not willing to give birth to child but becomes pregnant either by force or mistake, then the pregnancy is termed as unwanted pregnancy. Lalani, in her article about unplanned pregnancies, quotes from Ansari that “the first demographic survey conducted in 1960s claims that about one third women wished to avoid pregnancy but were not practicing any method of family planning due to many reasons and resulted in unwanted pregnancies” (1). Since abortion is not legally allowed in Pakistan, it can be inferred that about one third of children are somewhat unwanted children. Clearly, this results in miserable child health and overpopulation. On the other hand, if Pakistani women are given knowledge about various methods to avoid and rescue themselves from unwanted and unbearable pregnancies, the problem of overpopulation can be solved up to great extent. So, in order to control population, the need for sex education becomes increasingly clearer.
Similarly, sex education also aims to educate an individual about family planning. Family planning refers to the ability of a parent to choose the most appropriate time to give birth to a child. This ability, on part of parents, requires useful knowledge about the effect of child birth on mother’s health and proper child rearing. In this context, sex education can be helpful in giving this particular knowledge with much detail. For instance, benefits and advantages of a small family are discussed which encourages students towards family planning. Moreover, students are educated about the techniques of birth control. So, if sex education is implemented in Pakistan, the problem of overpopulation will be solved and a much happier Pakistani society will emerge.
Concluding from the above discussion, it is in the broad national interest to introduce a formal sexual education system on university level. Because it can help the country to safeguard itself from two of the major dangers like sexually transmitted diseases and over population. Since, it is the health of the individuals upon which the prosperity of the country depends; these two dangers which, if not taken notice of, have the potential to cause grave problems for a poor country like Pakistan. And sex education can act as a weapon against STDs and over population. Although, the opponents offer some objections, these objections are either unwise or a solution to them exists.      

                                                                                                                  Written By: Fawad Marwat

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