For the past couple of months, my program and I have been visiting and creating relationships with four different villages around Khon Kaen University in hopes of returning with an intervention that will help the village improve their health. With this journey, I found that I am very passionate of sex education and Thailand has a great prevalence of teen pregnancy, I thought this topic would be most beneficial for the community as well as myself. I see the intervention as a learning experience; however, my thoughts on the topic of sexual education were to the contrary of other members of my program.
Thailand is a very conservative country, despite the large culture of sex and sexuality. With little knowledge, average people would say that Thailand is a place that’s exotic, many white foreign men come to find their mail-ordered brides from Thailand, and that “ladyboys” are not abnormal at all. Oh yes! Plastic surgery is way cheaper than the U.S. and you can pretty much change anything about yourself in Thailand for the fraction of the cost. The culture of sexuality is quite open—as in a man can mess with other men at a young age, men can be women, and these things would not be abnormal; however, despite Mechai Viravaidya’s efforts (https://youtu.be/fSznVBd37Uo) in combating HIV/AIDS with safe sex education, there is still a high prevalence of teen pregnancy. Before I came to Thailand, I thought that sexual education was a huge thing all throughout Thailand, but what I learned with my time here is that the conservative culture makes sex a forbidden topic. I’ve heard that sexual education takes place in schools; however, they only learn about contraceptives and there seems to be no room for questions and answers. I also realized that with previous efforts of safe sex, the aim of the project was to control population growth that contributed to poverty in Thailand, not necessarily aiming to educate the people specifically for safe sex.
So back to the intervention. My passion and desire to provide sexual education was shot down very quickly. I asked a couple of Thai friends about their experience with sexual education in school and if it was valuable to teach about sex education if the school wasn’t providing enough information. All my friends said that it would be a great idea for me to go forward with sex education. One thai friend said that because sexual education was taught in middle school and the culture is very conservative, there was no room for questions so teenagers often googled their answers—which may or may not be reliable information. Even though I had this support from friends, when it came to my program, it was still shot down because it was and still is a very touchy subject.
I believe that even though it is a very sensitive subject, not attempting or paying attention to this topic of sexual education, can hinder and neglect the topic (SEX) and population (TEENAGERS) that may desired. I can’t help but wonder if sexual education is a large need, if education would help. But I cannot really say because I am American and not Thai. I have a different mind set. I don’t know what it really is like for people here so, I suppose I can think of these ideas, but it would need to be approved by the people here first. Anyway, I still stand to the fact that talking about sex should be less forbidden and who knows it may help reduce the number of pregnancies. From what I have learned, things that stay forbidden or things like promoting abstinence and neglecting the fact that people will have sex regardless, just doesn’t seem to work. Tis why I am a firm believer of education. Anywho, everyone has his or her own opinion and this is mine!