Malaysia: Sex in the university

By Chong Lip Teck
August 26, 2006

A lecturer from MARA Polytechnic University conducted a study on the sexual habits of 18-25 year old students from 4 national and private universities. The results showed that 50% of Malaysian university students were sexually active.

This is hardly surprising. If your housemate is a university student or you are the landlord of a university student, or if you have a relative or friend who is a university student, you would find that cohabitation is a common practice among these students. They will even tell you about their sex lives without any reservations.

You also shouldn't be surprised that the study results indicated 80% of university students do not use birth control methods. Our schools do not provide any sex education courses and parents have never taught their children about how to avoid unwanted pregnancies, so it is only natural that youths do not have adequate sexual knowledge.

Thanks to advancements in technology, we now have all kinds of information at our fingertips. We can access all kinds of data on the internet with a single mouse click. Pornographic discs are readily available at the pasar malam and pasar tani as well as in shopping centres. The hip youth culture espoused in HK, American, Japanese, Korean films and TV series convey ideas about sex and sexuality that emphasise a lack of responsibility or accountability.

Another study showed that primary and secondary school children who did not even know where babies came from had admitted to engaging in sexual acts. They were simply imitating the actions they saw in pornographic films, without being aware of the risks and results of such actions. When the media went to interview a private clinic, a girl in secondary school uniform was seen coming in for an abortion. The newspapers also frequently carry news reports about babies that were thrown into toilet bowls or abandoned in rubbish bins.

These university students who claim to be adults said they understood about taking precautions and accepting responsibility, yet there are those among them who would abandon their babies. Of course, there are also those among them who would marry, give birth to the child and build a family. It all depends on whether these youths had been given the proper education at the proper time about sex and gender relations.

The new generation's idea of sex is open and uninhibited, they are intent only on the pursuit of sexual pleasure while ignoring notions of safe sex, responsibility and proper relations between the two genders. They are not wholly to blame, as no channel exists to instil in them proper ideas and knowledge about sexual relations.

It is vital that sex education classes be held in primary and secondary schools. The Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development is eager to get started. It only awaits approval and help from the Cabinet and the Ministry of Education. Hopefully, such classes will soon become a reality.

A few parents have actually started educating their own children about sex, but most parents are reluctant to talk about the subject. Some of them feel that sex education should be taught by the schools.

With the increase of double-income families where both parents are busy with their work, the time that children spend alone by themselves has also increased. Without urging from their parents, the chance for communication and sharing between parents and their children is almost zero. What parents really need is guidance on how to communicate with and educate their children, instead of just being made to shoulder the blame for their children's misdeeds.

A large portion of our society, including youths and their parents, have never received any formal sex education. Sex education shouldn't just be confined to a class held in schools, but should include parents, providing them with the correct idea about sex and how to handle problems related to their children's sexuality. Schools and parents must work together to instil society with proper knowledge and ideas regarding sex.

The government has actually already conducted many workshops dealing with youth and family problems and has enthusiastically implemented various community activities related to these subjects. Perhaps they simply did not promote such activities well enough, so that many people did not know such activities existed. When the government carries out such activities it should try to get community and religious activities involved and benefit more people.

The lack of sexual knowledge and safe sex practices amongst our youth is hardly anything new. It is also not the first time that such a study has been conducted on Malaysians, whether as university students or regular citizens. The important thing about the study is not the figures, but the information it has grasped.

In this age of globalisation and information proliferation, we cannot avoid being negative and positively affected in various ways. The best way to deal with this outpouring of information is by analysing it and knowing what benefits us and what we need to improve on. We should avoid conducting studies that merely end up as a collection of statistics in a report without providing any solutions. Hopefully, the next study that is conducted will be filled with new information instead of just packed with doubts.


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2005 Asian Sex Gazette.
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