Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 2nd 2014 Contents A37
March 2, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
MINISTRY OF FINANCE AND THE ECONOMY
Inland Revenue Division
CLOSURE OF OFFICES
The Board of Inland Revenue wishes to advise the public
that all of its offices will be closed on Carnival Monday,
March 3rd and Carnival Tuesday, March 4th 2014.
These Offices include:
• Trinidad House and other Port-of-Spain Offices
• Regional Offices (Arima, San Fernando and Tobago)
• District Revenue Offices
Official business hours will resume on Wednesday,
March 5th, 2014.
"Changing the way we interact with you"
TAXPAYER RELATIONS SECTION
Visit us at www.ird.gov.tt
Sitting in neat rows, a group
of Pakistani schoolgirls in white
headscarves listen intently as
their teacher describes how their
bodies will change during puber-
ty. When she asks what they
should do if a stranger touches
them inappropriately, the class
erupts. "Scream," says one. "Bite,"
suggests another. "Scratch really
hard with your nails," says a third.
Sex education, common in
western schools, is taking place in
deeply conservative rural Pakistan,
a largely Muslim nation of 180 mil-
Approximately 700 girls are
enrolled in eight schools run by
the Village Shadabad Organisation.
The sex education lessons begin
when the pupils turn eight and
cover puberty, rights issues, and
teaches them how to defend them-
selves from attack.
"We cannot close our eyes," says
Akbar Lashari, head of the organ-
isation. "[Sex is] a topic people
don t want to talk about, but it s
fact of our life."
Public discussion about sex is
taboo in Pakistan. Few institutions
provide organised sex education,
and in some places it has been
banned. However, the teachers
operating in Johi village, in pover-
ty-stricken Sindh province, say
most residents support the
Lashari says most of the girls in
the village used to reach puberty
without realising they would men-
struate; some married without
understanding the mechanics of
sex. The lessons teach the girls
about marital rape---a revolutionary
idea in Pakistan, where forcing
wives to have sex is not a crime.
"We tell them their husband can t
have sex with them if they are not
willing," Lashari said.
The lessons are taught alongside
more traditional subjects, and par-
ents are informed about the cur-
riculum before their daughters
enrol. None has objected and the
school has faced no opposition,
The eight schools received spon-
sorship from BHP Billiton, an Aus-
tralian mining company that oper-
ates a nearby gas plant, but Lashari
says sex education was the vil-
Sarah Baloch, a teacher whose
yellow shalwar kameez brightens
up the dusty schoolyard, says she
hopes to help girls understand
what growing up means. "When
girls start menstruating they think
it is shameful ... [they] don t tell
their parents and think they have
fallen sick," she says.
Baloch teaches at a tiny school with
just three brick classrooms. Three girls
cram into each seat made for two and
listen attentively. Baloch holds aloft a
flashcard which shows a girl stopping
a man from touching her leg. Others
encourage girls to tell their parents or
friends if someone is stalking them.
The girls are shy but the messages are
"My body is only mine and only I
have the rights on it. If someone touch-
es my private parts I ll bite or slap him
in the face," says Uzma Panhwar, ten.
The lessons also cover marriage. "Our
teacher has told us everything that we ll
have to do when we get married. Now
we ve learned what we should do and
what we should not," says Sajida Baloch,
16.Many of Pakistan s most prominent
schools, including the prestigious Bea-
conhouse school system, have been
considering the type of sex education
practised in Johi. "Girls feel shy to talk
to their parents about sex," says Roohi
Haq, director of studies at Beaconhouse,
one of the largest private school net-
works in the world.
But there is certainly great demand
for such knowledge. A Lahore-based
doctor, Arshad Javed, has written three
books on sex education and says he
sells about 7,000 copies each year.
None, however, have been bought by
Not everyone agrees with sex edu-
cation lessons, partly because tradition
dictates that young people should not
have sex before adulthood. Recently,
the government forced the elite Lahore
grammar school to remove sex educa-
tion from its curriculum.
"It is against our constitution and
religion," announced Mirza Kashif Ali,
president of the All Pakistan Private
Schools Federation, which represents
more than 152,000 institutions nation-
wide. "And besides, what s the point
of knowing about a thing you re not
supposed to do? It should not be
allowed at school level."
Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, the education
minister for Sindh province, was
shocked to hear of the lessons. "Sex
education for girls? How can they do
that? That is not part of our curriculum,
whether public or private," he said.
But Tahir Ashrafi, who leads the Pak-
istan Ulema council alliance of moderate
clerics, says such lessons are permissible
under Islamic law, as long as girls are
segregated and the teaching confined
to theory. (Guardian UK)
A teacher displays a flashcard during a sex education class in Shadabad girls'
school in Johi, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS
Girls in Pakistan village
given sex education lessons
Links Archive March 1st 2014 March 3rd 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page