Youth still in the dark about their sexuality

rwan Martua Hidayana, the University of Indonesia’s sexuality and gender expert, said when he reached puberty, he was at a loss at who to ask questions about his wet dreams. The only sources were his peers, who were as unknowing as him.

That was more than 30 years ago. Recently he asked his male students during class on gender and sexuality about who they turned to talk about their coming-of-age wet dream experiences.

“Did they ask their father, mother or another adult?”

They didn’t. They said they only talked to their friends. It’s amazing that after more than 30 years, there has been no change,” he said. “They experienced the same thing as I did.”

Information on sexuality is lacking for young people in Indonesia, Irwan said. While children in Indonesia can easily access pornography through DVDs, access to sex education is lacking.

According to Lisa Poniman, a 17-year-old high school graduate, children do learn about reproductive organs in biology and physical education class.

“But a thorough sex education is very important. As we grow, our curiosity grows as well. As teenagers, it’s normal to want to know more about our sexuality,” she said. “It’s not possible to hide the realities of life.”

In the aftermath of the sex videos scandal that involves Indonesia’s top celebrities,  National Education Minister Muhammad Nuh reportedly said students do not need formal sex education in schools.

Human rights and gender activist Firliana Purwanti said people should not think that sex education meant a lesson in sexual intercourse. “Sex education and a sex lesson are different things,” she said.

One institution, the National AIDS Commission, recently filled the gap in information by launching Wednesday an interactive sex education website (www.sexxie.tv) which it says aims to connect teens and young adults with health experts who can provide them with accurate information on sex.

Irwan said the issue of female sexuality was also important to discuss as double standards usually existed. “For example, men are tolerated to be sexual and have sexual experiences before marriage.

Women, however, have to keep their virginity,” he said.

Arranti (not her real name), 17, said that it was important for her to remain a virgin. She said that while she made out with her boyfriend, she would never cross the line by having sex.

“If I lose it, it would ruin my future. I can’t imagine if I lost my virginity before marriage. And for a woman there’s a stigma.

“So, unless you’re married, I think you should keep it.”

Arranti, however, said she would not mind if her future partner was sexually experienced.

“If I really care about him, it would not matter,” she said.

— JP/Prodita Sabarini

Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Feature | Wed, July 07 2010

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