30 November 2010

Virginity: A Minority of Indonesian Youths...

A recent survey by the National Population and Family Planning Board (Badan Kependudukan dan Keluarga Berencana Nasional / BKKBN) of Indonesia has turned up some interesting results about the number of Indonesian youths engaging in pre-marital sex. The survey was conducted in 2010 and the results are the best indication yet of the state of play for Indonesian teenagers.

The survey results show that 51% of those teenagers surveyed in the greater Jakarta area of Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi (Jabodetabek) admit to having engaged in pre-marital sexual relations. This is important data to consider, especially with World AIDS Day about to take place tomorrow, 1 December 2010. The data is also important as a tool for legislators and teachers. There is an explicit and urgent need for personal development and personal health education, sex education if you will, to be incorporated into school curriculum throughout Indonesia.

The fact that there are some who would argue that sex education will only encourage children to be sexually active are really burying their collective heads in the sand. The data shows that without sex education our children are engaging in sexual activity in ever-increasing numbers. Therefore, it makes sense to ensure that our children have access to, and learn about, the most up-to-date information on sex. It is time that some people began to realise that sex education is more than getting out the old cucumber and rolling on a condom, and then saying "OK children, that is how it is done! Alrighty, back to maths!"

Outside of the Jabodetabek Surabaya is leading the way at 54%, Medan is at 52%, and Bandung is at just 47%. The survey results also indicate that more than a third of sexually active females are experiencing a pregnancy before marriage. Abortion is illegal in Indonesia except where there is a legitimate medical reason for a doctor to perform an abortion. Therefore, with such a large rate of pre-marital pregnancy prevalent in the community the risk of these youths go to backyard abortion hacks is real.

The data suggests that of the 2.4 million abortions performed in Indonesia annually, some 800,000 of these are performed on teenagers with an unwanted pregnancy. Therefore, there are good reasons for the government to consider the results of these surveys from not only an educational perspective but a public health one too.

Unfortunately, any suggestion that the government get involved is likely to be interpreted as a need to legislate morality. The chance therefore is that the government will try to criminalise pre-marital sex in more ways than one cares to poke a stick at while simultaneously committing greater resources to enforcement of draconian legal measures to stop teenagers from having sex. This sort of response only takes us back to the dark ages of times past. Yet, this is what happens when you ask crotchety old men who have not had sex in decades will do when given the opportunity.

The reason that education in this case needs to be personal development and personal health as opposed to just plain and simple sex education is that the data notes that of the 3.2 million people suffering from drug addiction in Indonesia, some 78% of them are teenagers. The data further suggests there are some links between increasing intravenous drug use and increasing numbers of young people becoming HIV positive.

In light of this (rant and rail to follow) it is imperative that the government and educators get their collective heads together and come up with a personal development and personal health curriculum that can be implemented across the board in Indonesian schools. It is critical that we educate our children so that they are forewarned and therefore forearmed. We have a responsibility, not only to our children but, to ourselves to ensure that our children have at their disposal the necessary information to make informed decisions to save themselves from harm. The reality is that we cannot, nor do we want to, live in the pockets of our children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the rest of their lives. Nevertheless, we can still give them what they need to understand the dangers and make decisions they feel are best for them.

Thus endeth the sermon!


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