A country where the mere mention of sex involves involves numerous contorted euphemisms, sex education is more or less nonexistent in the middle kingdom. Sex ed for children and teens in China could be pretty much summed up thus: sex is bad.
An article in the Christian Science Monitor, outlines several attempts to push for effective sex education in China, including workshops held by Li Yinhe, a famous sociologist and sexologist in China, that saw low attendance and were eventually halted. While the effects achieved by these efforts may be meager, they are essential if sex is no longer to be a taboo topic in China. The CS Monitor present some alarming statistics:
“Of the 22.4 percent of unmarried youths in China who are sexually active, half have had unprotected sex, according to a 2010 study carried out by Peking University and the United Nations Population Fund.
The same study reports that 20 percent of unmarried women who have sex get pregnant, and 91 percent of those women resort to abortion.
Poor knowledge of contraceptives and sex education contribute to high rates of unwanted pregnancies. According to the State Family Planning Commission’s Science and Technology Research Institute there are more than 13 million abortions a year in China.”
Lin Yinhe opposes the current sex education curriculum. Presently, sex education for both schools and parents may as well be virginity education. The topic of actually having sex is put off for as long as possible. According to a Chinese sexuality expert, failure to teach children basic knowledge of sex is the cause of the increasingly serious problem of sexual assaults on Chinese children.
CCTV conducted a series of interviews, asking Chinese what happened when they asked their parents, “Where did I come from?” Most never received a sensible answer:
Picked up on the streets
Picked out in a pile of rocks
Fell out of the armpit
My father told me I was flushed out in a flood
More netizens shared the answers they received, with many not finding out the truth for a very long time
@旧游无寻处: “I once asked my mother this question. At first my mom used the same old line, picked out from a garbage can. Of course I did not believe her, so I kept on asking. At last, my mom told me the truth very seriously: each couple, when they reach a certain age, well, their company gives them a pill. After they take the pill, a baby will grow inside the stomach… I believed her for many years!”
According to statistics, over 30% of Chinese youths are “self-educated” on the internet, 24.4% learn from porn films, such as Japanese porn, and 0.9% learn from teachers and parents. Perhaps it is because youths are mainly self-educated that only 49% of Chinese use condoms the first time they have sex. To avoid early parenthood, young pregnant girls often have no other choice than to get an abortion.
Hopefully, Li’s prediction is correct and there will be a shift away from “traditional” Chinese attitudes on sex and sexual health. Otherwise, problems such as children being unaware the nature of sexual assault; an increase in sex offenders; young people’s unexpected pregnancies; and the silent permitting of sexual harassment will all contribute to a confusing, chaotic hypocritical, and ultimately dangerous sexual terrain within China.