Talking about sex has always been socially awkward in the arab world, sex and sexuality are the subject that no arab family or school are willing to discuss and seem to avoid it at all costs. Violence, marital rape, no concept of consent are just a few problems that arise due to the lack of sexuality education in the life of young Arabs who resort to platforms that display inaccuracies regarding sex—Pornography even if they are educated.
One Arab country took the first step to break this Taboo and introduce sexuality education at schools. Tunisia becomes the first country in the arab world to make this change, the executive director of the Tunisian Association of Reproduction Health recently announced.
It's very important for children to be introduced to sexuality education so they are aware of themselves and others around them.
She said her organisation partnered up with the United Nations Population Fund and the Arab Institute for Human Rights to start this initiative under the umbrella of Tunisia's education ministry. Sexuality education will be embedded in different parts of the curriculum as opposed to having one subject that is fully dedicated to the discipline.
We will carry out the plan based on the ages of the children – throughout the whole time, we emphasise on consent and safety.
Khaneetch said. She added the curriculum will be specifically simplified for younger children, focusing on messages of awareness to protect them from harassment. The lessons will be "religiously sensitive" as well, she said, to avoid the same fate as Lebanon back in 1995. Interference and pressure from religious authorities were the reason why sexuality education programs in Lebanon came to a halt after they were formally introduced that year; the country's Ministry of Education hasn't addressed the issue since then.
Without formal sexuality education, the only Arabic words for sex that most people have at their disposal is street slang which, for women in particular, compounds shame about the subject with embarrassment around the language. Sexuality education practically does not exist among arab countries but, hopefully, they will follow Tunisia's lead in implementing it in schools as awareness seem to push its way between ignorance and stagnation.
Cover photo for this post has been screenshotted from the short movie "Libido" directed by the Egyptian artist Youssef Alimam.