JAKARTA - Responding to demands that proper sex education be taught in schools in order to protect children from rape, Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh said that it was unnecessary as it could promote indecency among the country's youth.
"According to our traditions, it is indecent to talk about it, and that is my standpoint. I don't believe we need that yet," the minister told The Jakarta Post in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Faiza Mardzoeki, a spokesperson for the Women's Alliance against Rape (APTP) said proper knowledge of reproductive rights could help students protect themselves from sexual predators.
She was referring to the 14-year-old Depok girl who was raped by alleged human traffickers in Bogor, West Java. The abduction and rape could have been prevented if the girl had been given enough knowledge about sex, particularly in identifying sexual harassment.
Activists have urged the ministry to refine reproduction education in the national school curriculum, saying that it might curb the number of teenage rape, which has surged to 27 cases this year.
They deemed that Nuh had not paid enough attention to sexual assaults against students. The minister, instead, made a negative remark to rape victims, saying that "they do it for fun and then the girl alleges that it's rape."
Nuh told the Post that he had no knowledge about reproductive education. "I am sorry, mentioning s-e-x is already taboo to me," he said.
Given the sensitivity of the subject of reproductive education, Nuh suggested that parents should be responsible for assisting their children in learning about reproductive rights.
"We didn't get education on reproduction when we were children, but we learned that from our families. Considering the high privacy level of this topic, it is more suitable if the family played a dominant role," he added.
According to Nuh, the public was not ready to have more sex education in the school curriculum because there have been a big controversies regarding some study content. Some parents complained about school worksheets featuring "adult content".
"The controversy on LKS [student worksheets] has prompted us to reconsider the best way to deliver education on reproduction, whether to use direct or symbolic languages," he said.
Among the questionable content was a complicated love story about a mistress, a photo of the fully-clothed porn star Japanese porn star Maria "Miyabi" Ozawa, and multiple choice questions about the human reproduction system.
Faiza said that the public needs to change their mind-sets about sex education, given its huge importance to the students.
"Don't perceive the subject as taboo. Junior and senior high school students must be able to identify which actions are considered sexual harassment and assault," she said.
Seto Mulyadi from the government-sanctioned National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas Anak) said that sex education in Indonesia lagged behind some countries, like Japan.
"Kindergarten students in Japan are given education about reproductive organs regarding how to clean and protect them, including banning anyone from touching their private parts. In our education system, some of those theories have been delivered, but in some way, the school hasn't provided practical methods for students to protect themselves," Seto said in a telephone interview.
Seto suggested that parents and schools need to work hand in hand. Seto, however, pointed out that schools need to be more prepared, considering not all parents have sufficient knowledge to address the issue.
When Faiza and some activists staged a protest in front of Nuh's office, the minister invited them to come in and discuss the issue with him. The group, however, declined his invitation because the ministry's security officers didn't allow them to bring their banners in.
The protesters dispersed before Nuh got the chance to meet them.