What about Sex Education in the Arab World?

What about Sex Education in the Arab World?

By Rachid Acim

Beni Mellal, Morocco – Several months ago, I had the chance to watch a TV program about the insertion of Sex-education in Arab schools. Arab students, especially girls, are still underachievers in this field because they don’t know much about this school subject. My intent is not to make of this a gender fuss. Never.

So, apart from some hints given to how we can protect ourselves against the fatal HIV virus, how not to fear early signs of puberty and how to talk about human genetic apparatuses bravely, our natural science teachers hardly could delve into speaking about sex – deemed a taboo in our cultural context.

When girls at school are offered the approximate dioramas showing man’s genitals they would usually erupt into laughter. The same thing goes for boys, who would examine woman’s genitals, see how it operates discreetly in small groups. But few students could follow the teacher’s superficial explanations on matters of sex. He never dared talk in details about human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse and other sensitive issues relative to human sexual behavior. That was a red line he could not go beyond.

Things were worse when female teachers taught this subject. They were unable to fully address the issue. All that we could study was pregnancies, birthing and breeding but among animals. In some countries like Thailand and India, sex education has been introduced and consists of issues touching on the reproductive system and personal hygiene, other issues we need to explore in our schools not individually or privately.

Many times, the curriculum of sex education has been revised to cope with problems of adolescents at schools. Parents of conservative families are reluctant to let their siblings attend courses about sex education. Their excuse is that such education is more likely to lead their children astray, take up bad habits and, accordingly, indulge in future sexual pleasures. But why such panic?

Human beings are sexual par excellence. They are afraid to talk about sex, but they love it fondly. They cannot do without it in their social and private lives. If there is an objection to this, it would be but a sheer exception. Some children are keen on watching sex movies wherein the hero has 10 women in bed with him at night, a video game wherein the player toys with his/her sexual organs, porn pictures showing decadency and moral bankruptcy.

Adults are not away from this. They would blush out of shame if ever one speaks of sex openly. The latter is perceived as being immoral, disrespectful and even deviant. The result is that parents themselves turn sexually oppressed and incapable of imparting this education to their children.

There are many anecdotes in the Arab folk culture, showing Arabs’ strong sarcasm of sexual inaptness and deficiency. Maybe this is one reason why they are portrayed as lascivious, lustful and sexually-oriented in the movies they eagerly consume and watch daily. Actors acting out sexual scenes with different forms and positions and actresses giving up to their partners’ sexual desires. We have watched ‘Tajriba Denmarkiya, Annamir wal Ounta, Hob Fi Zinzana,’ other movies that portray how Arabs are mad about sex.

It is, indeed, pitiful to see one’s children consuming sexual programs terribly, purchasing magazines of porn stars, and just watching instead of reading and learning more about sex. Sex has then conquered our homes. In TV sets, thousand of movies are corrupting the youths. Some women are seen much better, since they are more seductive, more tempting and more sexual than others. Always certain criteria ought to be fulfilled for a woman to act out a sexual scene in a movie. She must be beautiful enough, appealing to all, having a good shape, elegant, with special alluring eyes, upholding sweet talks, knowing how to seduce different men.

Scarcely we would see an ugly woman the subject of allurement. But beauty and sex never go together. Beauty is about decency. If ever you see a girl selling her body for free, then that is no longer beauty; rather, true ugliness. Personally, I’d side with those girls dressed indecently, declaring their outward properties publicly, then with those girls who are disguised under headscarves preaching ethics such as respect and esteem, but they are inwardly corrupt.

When you approach them closer, you get stuck. They tend to market a commercial product, which is not theirs at all. The tricks they are playing, wittingly or unwittingly, come from their belief that they can earn the admiration of males whose love is said to be controlled purely by their eyes. What they could see. These types are poisoning, very selfish.

The first thing they will ask you about is profession. Then, are you motorized? How many members are there in your family? Many questions you feel yourself unable to answer sometimes. If they discover you are penniless, they will desert you, switch off their cellular phones, never ever talk to you again. They are neither sluts nor whores, we must admit. Neither chaste nor pure. But they are hung in an in-between space, with many faces, pretending good virtues, moral and religious beliefs.

Streets abound with them. Their dressing styles suggest conservatism and also liberalism. They are torn apart between two schizophrenic personalities not faithfully clinging to one. But we will never scold boys if they hanker after them or flirt with them. A friend of mine living in the U.S. told me that an airplane crew asked a girl heading for Africa to change her indecent clothes. Families of minority groups can find it very embarrassing. There are some daughters who respect their fathers very much and they will hate themselves being in this situation, watching girls like them unveiling most of their body parts daringly.

After the Egyptian revolution, a girl under the name of Aliaa Magda Elmahdy, 20 years old, posted naked photos of herself on her Facebook page to challenge the conservative etiquettes of the Egyptian society. Very soon, this snippet of news becomes the dish for many Western, also Eastern feminist movements defending Aliaa’s right to expose her nudeness freely. So strange.

At schools, girls are feeling freer these days. They don’t put on their uniforms. In the streets, they walk indecently. Then, they come to complain about daily rapes, flirting and other persecutions they are subject to. It is awful to see that parents are contributing to this a great deal. As heat rises up in summer, many parents would allow their daughters to go out with bras and bikinis. Do we question ourselves why sexual harassment is increasing? Girls are themselves responsible.  Unlike women, men are weak by nature when it comes to innate impulses. Some can control that, but I’m afraid many cannot.

Rachid Acim is a high School English Teacher in Beni Mellal, Morocco. He is a Freelance translator, writer and poet. Rachid is a contributor to Morocco World News. He can be reached at: (r.acim@usms.ma)

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.

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  • M’hand

    I’m delighted to read such a wonderful article.I really like the last paragraph in which you mentioned that parents and girls themselves may contribute to sexual harassment in our Moroccan society.Anyway,I guess we really need to include the subject matter of sexual education to our educational system.Youths should know all about this but I think that won’t happen since sex is one the three things(sex,politics and religion) which are still under the ban in the Arab world.

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