Sex education and Islam: How well do they mix?

January 22, 2009

How important is sex education in Lancashire?

On July 3 2008 Lancashire County Council launched the Lancashire Sexual Health Policy for Children and Young People. It is to encourage any organisations who work with young people in the county to encourage healthy relationships and sexual health well-being. The policy is endorsed by the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership. Here is a link to the page where the document can be downloaded.

What do people in Preston’s Islamic community think about sex education in schools?

Elyas Desai is the Imam for the Maahadus Shuhada mosque in Deepdale, Preston. He said: “I personally feel it is creating an image within the mind, it’s not helping a child, it’s destroying a child. Islam has taught us, don’t gaze, be pure, be natural.”

Vsiyyullah Bhayat is the Imam at the University of Central Lancashire’s Multi-faith centre. He said: “We have classes for eight to nine year olds where we teach them basic information they need to know. Some girls become mature at a young age, so we need to give information about maturity.”

Hajra Bux, 18, of Frenchwood, Preston, said: “They should keep it in high school but teach it to a certain extent. “They are still young in high school, they will learn about it when they feel ready because every individual is different. Really it should be the parents who decide when they want their child to know about it.”

Hajra Desai, 32, of Frenchwood, Preston is a mother of three. Her eldest daughter is in year seven at a state school and about to start sex education.
She said: “I’m not happy with it, as Muslims we don’t really promote that. My daughter is a bit embarrassed about it because we don’t discuss things like that at home. It is quite an embarrassing topic for us.”

There are contradicting views on whether sex education should be taught to their younger population in schools. Faith schools and sex education will always attract criticism but one common opinion in Preston’s Muslim community about sex education is the importance to keep an emphasis on modesty when teaching young Muslims.

Muslim girls in class at the Preston Muslim Girls High School in Preston

Muslim girls in class at the Preston Muslim Girls High School in Preston

How should sex education be taught to young Muslim girls?

In 1995 a report was published by the North West Lancashire Health Promotion Unit, called, “Rishtae Aur Zimmevarian, Relationships and Responsibilities” It looked at sexual health education for black and minority ethnic communities in Preston. It came up with this conclusion:

-The Sex education received by the girls was random and unstructured. It had not included any relationship with their faith and culture, and in some instances, there had been no formal sex education.

-In inequality between girls and boys in the community was felt acutely by the girls and may be challenged in time.

-There are implications for girls’ sexual health in physical terms if young men are exposing more sexual behaviour prior to marriage. It follows that there is an increased risk of infection for young women.

-The girls identified a need for more support in faith and cultural relationships with sexual health issues and more practical support through a safe, confidential environment for reproductive health.

Elyas Desai talks about modesty in this video

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