Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

Talking about Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors; A Cultural and Social Tabooin Afghanistan (Part 2)

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Talking about Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors; A Cultural and Social Tabooin Afghanistan (Part 2)

Given the above reasons, it is argued that one of the key factors of violence against women increase in Afghanistan is shortage of gender/sex education at Afghanistan’s schools. For example, several studies echo that presenting guidance by the teachers about sexual attitudes and behaviors of students at schools will reduce the occurrence of sexual assaultsand gender violence in the society. Because girls and boys as teenagers will learn about their sexual attitudes at schools. In other words, sex education will help students how to tackle their sexual problems appropriately, how to respect their opposite sex’s sexual characteristics and not to look at their opposite sex as a physical and biological object but as a human being.
Since there is not any formal education about sexual attitudes and behaviorsat schools in Afghanistan, most of the Afghan teenagers and youths obtain information about sexual issues secretly via internet or friends.The Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies survey projects that this kind of approach toward knowing about sexualmatters leads to watching porn movies that eventually result into porn addiction.Moreover, researchers believe that the lack of education at schools and the lack of proper education of parents regarding sexual attitudes and behaviors of youthsmay create serious cultural and social problems for the health of the entire society. They argue that embedding the topic of sex education in school curriculum can acquaint the children from the stage of childhood to sexual issues. When they grow up, they don’t feel shy of talking about their sexual problems and needs in families, among their friends, or referring to a doctor because of their sexual problems. Furthermore, addressing sex education in an integrated education system may provide information for children and adolescents that won’t provoke them toward inappropriate solving their sexual needs. Additionally, providing sex education through schools, can help students not to look for other misleading channels for obtaining information about their sexual attitudes and behaviors.
Afghan Society and the Taboo of Sex Conversation
Traditional values that may restrict access to knowledge about sexual attitudes and behaviors might be the main barriers on debating regarding sexual issues among the families and youths in traditional societies. In Afghanistan, there are many reasons that why parents don’t educate their children about sexual issues. First, only 31.741 percent of Afghan adults aged 15 and above are literate that is why most of the parents are not aware of sexual issues due to not being able to read regard sexual topics. Second, parentsfeelshameful and discomfortableof conversing about sexual issues with their progenies thus they have a negative attitude to sexual attitudes and behaviors. Third, most of the parents in Afghanistan feel that if they talk about sexual issues with their children, the respect between them and their children is broken, thus, they neither want nor can to talk about sexual matters with their progenies.
When there is no formal sex education at school, and parents are not interested in talking about sexual issues with progenies either, there is a risk that childrenand adolescentsmay become familiar inappropriately with sexual issues out of the home.Studies hold that educating teens and adolescents about sexual issues by parents and schools is a safe and healthy way. While gaining information about sexual needs and issues via friends and Internet may provoke teens and adolescents to commit sexual violence, rape, teasing their opposite sex in the society, and other abnormal deeds.
Lack of information about sexual attitudes and behaviors often lead to misconceptions about sexual issues. This ignorance usually manifests itself in the form of shameful, impolite, and culturally abnormal conversation among the families in Afghanistan. Dr. Haidari Nasab, a consultant and member of the family and sexual health group, believes that the question of how to answer children’s questions about sexual issues is a cultural issue. It depends on the culture of each community and the familyhow to respond and to get acquainted with sexual issues. He argues that the crucial point is that parents and teachers step by step should acquaint teens and adolescents with sexual attitudes and behaviors. Sexual information provided to a 3-year-old child is very different from that of a 13-year-old girl.On the other hand, the lack of awareness and refusal to answer of puberty and sexual questions can provoke the curiosity of the newly-raised teenager, therefore, the family is the most important social elements that should give enough information and guidance to their teensin this respect.
Recommendations for Policy Implications
First, as schools are the main hubs of education for children, scholars are in this belief that school teachers should instruct the students that sexuality is a natural, normal, and healthy part of life. They should provide value-based education and offer students the opportunity to explore and define their individual values as well as the values of their families and communities. The discussion between teachers and students should include a wide variety of sexuality-related topics, such as human development, relationships, interpersonal skills, sexual expression, sexual health, society,and culture. The conversation should be based on the accurate and factual information.
Second, since most of the families in Afghanistan, particularly in the countryside, don’t have information about their sexual attitudes and behaviors, Ministry of Education in collaboration with Ministry of Public Health through school administrators should start public awareness campaigns in this regard. These campaigns should be held at schools and mosques. The campaigners should discuss the importance of knowing sexual attitudes and behaviors with the local people. They should tell the families that having information about sexual issues is not shameful and bad culturally and socially, but very vital and important for the health and social safety of their families and communities. Because, it is necessary for the parents and teachers, first of all, to receive the appropriate information for instructingteens, and then they can answer their questions related to sexual attitudes and behaviors.
Finally,parents and teachers should create a sincere and faithful relationship with children in conversing with them regarding sexuality and sexual issues. Because as long as there is no trust between parents and teachers, teens and adolescents can’t share their sexual problems and issues with them. Doing so, parents and teachers canreduce the risk of referring teens and adolescents to illegal and inappropriate channels for seeking the answers to their questions related to sexual attitudes.

Hamid Bamik is a Graduate Student in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis University of Missouri-Columbia, USA. He can be reached at hbqwf@mail.missouri.edu.

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