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Phuket Gazette World News: Pakistani village gives girls pioneering sex education class

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Phuket Gazette World News: Pakistani village gives girls pioneering sex education class | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Pakistani village gives girls pioneering sex education class
Phuket Gazette / Reuters
PHUKET: In neat rows, the Pakistani girls in white headscarves listened carefully as the teacher described the changes in their bodies. When the teacher asked what they should do if a stranger touched them, the class erupted.

“Scream!” one called out.

“Bite!” another suggested.

“Scratch really hard with your nails!” a third said.

Sex education is common in Western schools but these ground-breaking lessons are taking place in deeply conservative rural Pakistan, a Muslim nation of 180 million people.

Publicly talking about sex in Pakistan is taboo and can even be a death sentence. Parents have slit their daughters’ throats or doused them in acid for crimes as innocuous as dancing at a wedding or looking out the window.

Almost nowhere in Pakistan offers any kind of organised sex education. In some places it has been banned.

But teachers operating in the village of Johi in poverty-stricken Sindh province say most families there support their sex education project.

Around 700 girls are enrolled in eight local schools run by the Village Shadabad Organisation. Their sex education lessons – starting at age eight – cover changes in their bodies, what their rights are and how to protect themselves.

“We cannot close our eyes,” said Akbar Lashari, head of the organisation. “It’s a topic people don’t want to talk about but it’s fact of our life.”

Facts of Life

Lashari said most of the girls in the villages used to hit puberty without realising they will begin to menstruate or they got married without understanding the mechanics of sex.

The lessons even teach the girls about marital rape – a revolutionary idea in Pakistan, where forcing a spouse 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 an addition to regular classes and parents are told before they enrol their daughters. None has objected and the school has faced no opposition, Lashari said.

The eight schools received sponsorship from BHP Billiton, an Australian company that operates a nearby gas plant, but Lashari says sex education was the villagers’ own idea.

Teacher Sarah Baloch, whose yellow shalwar khameez brightens up the dusty school yard, said she hoped to help girls understand what growing up meant.

“When girls start menstruating they think it is shameful and don’t tell their parents and think they have fallen sick,” she said.

Baloch teaches at a tiny school of three brick classrooms. A fourth class is held outside because there are so many girls.

Three girls cram into each seat made for two, listening attentively to Baloch. One flashcard shows a girl stopping an old man from touching her leg. Other cards encourage girls to tell their parents or friends if someone is stalking them.

The girls are shy but the lessons have sunk in.

“My body is only mine and only I have the rights on it. If someone touches my private parts I’ll bite or slap him in the face,” said 10-year-old Uzma Panhwar defiantly as she blushed.

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 not,” said Sajida Baloch, 16, staring at the ground.

Ahead of Its Time?

Some of Pakistan’s most prominent schools, including the prestigious Beaconhouse School System, have been considering the type of sex education practised in Johi.

“Girls feel shy to talk to their parents about sex,” said Roohi Haq, director of studies at Beaconhouse.

There is definitely demand. Lahore-based Arshad Javed has written three books on sex education and said he sells about 7,000 per year. None are sold to schools.

But not everyone agrees with the lessons, partly because young people were not supposed to have sex before adulthood. Recently the government forced the elite Lahore Grammar School to remove all sex education from its curriculum.

“It is against our constitution and religion,” said Mirza Kashif Ali, president of the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation, which says it represents more than 152,000 institutions across the country.

“What’s the point of knowing about a thing you’re not supposed to do? It should not be allowed at school level.”

In neighbouring India, many government schools formally offer sex education but Pakistani government schools have no such plans. 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 heads an alliance of moderate clerics called the Pakistan Ulema Council, said such lessons were permissible under Islamic law as long as they were segregated and confined to theory.

“If the teachers are female, they can give such information to girls in the limits of Sharia,” he said.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Tourism

Saudi Arabia eases visa restrictions for US and European visitors

May Taylor

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Saudi Arabia eases visa restrictions for US and European visitors | The Thaiger

PHOTO: aawsat.com

American and European passport holders, along with those from most Asian countries, can now apply for Saudi Arabian tourist visas either online or on arrival, provided they meet certain criteria.

Prior to this, the only foreigners allowed to visit Saudi Arabia were usually those travelling on business, resident workers and their family members, or Muslim pilgrims on pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.

In an attempt to boost tourism and diversify the economy’s reliance on oil, the Kingdom has expanded the availability of tourist visas beyond what was initially 49 countries. Visitors from eligible countries no longer need to apply for a visa at an overseas Saudi embassy but can do so online or on arrival.

The multiple-entry visa costs approximately US$120, is valid for a year, and permits a stay of up to 3 months on each entry.

However, authorities in the Kingdom were quick to implement a public decency code following the visa announcement.

“Immodest dress and public displays of affection are banned, but foreign men and women may rent hotel rooms together without having to prove they are married.”

A strict ban on alcohol remains in place.

Last weekend the South Korean band BTS became the first foreigners to hold a solo concert in the Kingdom, allowing teenage and older woman to attend without a male escort and allowing them to dance and sing along (in Korean of course). The band, in turn, turned down some of their ‘ab flashing’ and physicality during their record-breaking “Love Yourself” stadium concert in Riyadh.

The septet were invited to perform in Saudi Arabia as part of the Kingdom’s attempts to become more open to foreigners and diversify their income away from oil production.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Opinion

Buddhists call for boycott of Hilton & Waldorf Astoria Hotels with the opening of Siddhartha Lounge

The Thaiger

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Buddhists call for boycott of Hilton & Waldorf Astoria Hotels with the opening of Siddhartha Lounge | The Thaiger

OPINION: The Buddhist Times

Since its creation in 1996, Buddha-Bar Paris has been using the name and image of Buddha in it’s Bars and Hotels throughout the world. Typically the franchises use large statues of Buddha in their Bars and around dance floors and in restaurants similar to a Buddhist temple.

What makes the use of Buddha’s image in these bars most insulting to Buddhists around the world is that Buddhism does not support the consumption of alcohol. So to use the Buddha’s image as decoration to promote the consumption and sale of alcohol and as a prop on dance floors and in restaurants is especially disrespectful and hurtful to Buddhists.

Now comes a further insult with the Buddha-Bar franchise opening the Siddhartha Lounge at Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. (Siddhartha Gautama being the full name of Buddha).

According to the Knowing Buddha Organisation in Thailand what the Buddha-Bar franchise is doing is not only disrespectful but it is immoral. The foundation points out that “Respect is Common Sense”.

Buddhists feel hurt by the misuse of the name and image of their father, as people of other faiths would be if the image of Christ or Mohammad were used to promote bars and nightclubs.

The Buddha–Bar, restaurant, and hotel franchise created by French-Romanian restaurateur Raymond Vișan and DJ and interior designer Claude Challe, with its original location having opened in Paris, France in 1996.

Raymond Vișan, according to Wikipedia, had the idea of establishing the chain of restaurants and bars which came from his fascination with the Orient. However at the age of 60 Visan suddenly died of terminal cancer. The franchise was continued by co-founder Claude Challe and Vișan’s wife Tarja, who took over the reins of the Buddha Bar franchise upon Vișan death.

Critics of the Vișan’s and Claude Challe say that these self described artists and creators have created nothing but bad Karma and Sin for themselves. They suggest that Buddha-Bar franchise is a form of “grotesque Plagiarism ” which has merely hi-jacked a 2500 year old religion, using the name and image of Buddha, who imparts peace, compassion and loving kindness, for the purpose of selling alcohol and making money. As any case of plagiarism it is expected that Buddha-Bar and Waldorf Astoria will soon find them selves in the courts say Buddhims advocats.

Buddhist around the world are calling the Boycotting of Waldorf Astoria Hotels Hilton Hotels, Buddha-Bars and the music of Claude Challe, demanding that they stop using the image of Buddha and instead creat their own brand.

The views expressed in this editorial do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of The Thaiger or its staff

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Hong Kong

1000s flock to Hong Kong’s Chater Garden for pro-democracy rally

May Taylor

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1000s flock to Hong Kong’s Chater Garden for pro-democracy rally | The Thaiger

PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Last night, Chater Garden, located near government headquarters in the Central district of Hong Kong, was the scene of the city’s first approved rally since the face mask ban came into being about 10 days ago. So far, the face mask ban has been largely ineffectual.

A day after an explosive device was detonated during protests, tens of thousands of demonstrators assembled in the park. They were calling on Washington to approve proposed US legislation that could see some Chinese officials face sanctions.

The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act aims to review the territory’s special trading status and sanction those responsible for undermining the rights of Hong Kong citizens. It passed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee late last month.

The Chinese Government has responded angrily, accusing the US of “interfering in China’s internal affairs” with the aim of harming its interests, and says the law will only serve to worsen the situation in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has been the scene of often violent pro-democracy protests for over four months now, as its citizens call for greater democracy and less interference from Beijing.

SOURCE: The Nation

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