‘Silence won’t prevent teen pregnancy’

National 3 minutes, 42 seconds


SILENCE would not help in preventing teen pregnancies, the Brunei Darussalam AIDS Council president said yesterday.

Iswandy Ahmad said reproductive health is not openly discussed in Brunei, and the attitude of waiting for others to take action on social issues would only exacerbate the problem. Responding to the 3,405 teen pregnancies recorded from 2004 to 2013, he said a silent community is one of the reasons for the high numbers. “Young people are exposed to many things that may confuse them. Without proper life skills, education, right attitude and self-dignity, these social issues like teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are bound to happen,” he told The Brunei Times.

He said parents and teachers must help teenagers navigate in today’s world. “Teenagers nowa-days have access to all kinds of information from their friends and the Internet. Showing them love and having an open ‘let’s talk about anything’ policy will help them feel free to speak to adults about matters that they need to know about,” said Iswandy.

“Any form of education should start at home, and reproductive health education — including aurat (covering parts of the body based on Islam) between mahram (legally married couple) and non-mahram — should be done at home to form a healthy social relationship,” he added.

Iswandy said reproductive health education is not an eve-ryday topic to be discussed openly as Asian culture is generally respectful. “Nonetheless, appropriate ways need to be addressed. For example, parents must relate teenage pregnancy to unhealthy relationships, where religion and society forbid the act of zina (fornication),” he said.

The president said reproductive health education includes Islamic teachings such as aurat, mandi wajib (full body cleansing) and fiqh munakahat (provisions of Islamic law on marriage). “We should not just copy and paste other countries’ ways. We should adapt to the culture in Brunei.”

Hj Saili Hj Chuchu, education officer at the Department of Schools, said parents should share the responsibility of educating their children on reproductive health so that they would understand the repercussions of pre-marital sex.

“Parents should stress the importance of culture and Islamic values to their children. We need to remind our children to stay away from zina (illegal sexual intercourse). At home, parents must strengthen their aqidah (faith),” he said, adding that the actions of children mirror that of their parents.

Parents should always remind their children that Islam prohibits unmarried males and females to be alone in a room as it may raise fitnah (false accusation). “When parents remind their young children at home about the repercussions of sexual activities outside marriage, the children would have strong Islamic values when they grow up,” he said.

Ali Yusri Abdul Ghafor, acting head/assistant director of Counselling and Career Section of the Department of Schools, said reproductive health education should be integrated with Islamic values and the MIB (Malay Muslim Monarchy) doctrine. “When we (school counsellors) are approached by students about topics pertaining to reproductive health education, we would remind them about Islamic values such as the sin of pre-marital sex and tell them about the moral obligation of preserving our MIB concept,” he said.

Ali Yusri, who has been counselling students since 1998, said the curiosity of students about reproductive health should be approached carefully to prevent the students from being misled about sexual intercourse.

Mazlan Hanif from Kg Rimba said he has never talked about reproductive health to his children. “It would be strange to teach your children on how to put on a con-dom. I think teaching this would make your children more curious about sex rather than preventing it,” said the 51-year-old father, who has four children.

He fears that teaching reproductive health to children would encourage them to experience pre-marital sex. “If we start to teach children on how to have safe sex, wouldn’t that encourage them to learn how to have sexual intercourse by putting on condoms and taking birth control pills?

“Even if you manage to teach your children about sex, you won’t get a response from them. Instead, they will talk with their friends. Now boys and girls become friends not like in the past. They will talk about it and who knows what will happen,” he added.

Another parent, Wahab, said: “Some parents are not aware that their children can access porn on the Internet and at the tip of their fingers. If this is left unchecked, it would be a problem.”

The Brunei Times