In traditional Bangladeshi socio-religious culture sexual and reproductive matters are a taboo. They are not spoken about, not shared with nor learnt about. Parents feel ashamed to talk about sexual things. At school the children have nobody to reply to their questions concerning the growth/changes in their bodies and other related issues.
The only source of information are their friends and the media. The internet and cell phones offer both knowledge and pornographic
material. Children therefore grow up to adults carrying the burden of mixed and often incorrect information. At the age of both physical and mental changes and confusion many choose a risky behavior and consequently suffer in various ways.
Save the Children's project 'Improving Child Protection and Rehabilitation of Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation in Bangladesh' has opened a door to discuss protection issues at different levels and actors.
Our dialogue with parents, children, school teachers and numbers of civil society organizations revealed that sexual education and protection are important issues.
Sexual education should be included in the curriculum adapted to the children's age. With the assistance of Save the Children's partner Breaking the Silence took up the issue with the National Curriculum Text Book Board (NCTB) by sharing the untold boys' and girls' personal stories of sexual violence. These were published in 1996 and 2007.
The pioneering publication opened the eyes of all concerned that our boys and girls are equally vulnerable to sexual abuse and they were often victims of their close associates.
These stories revealed many untold and hard to believe facts. A forum comprised of NCTB representatives, the National Curriculum Text Book Board and child protection experts from the Save the Children formed and worked out a text targeted to the students of class VII. The chapter discusses the human body arts, the growing process and also protection - how to protect oneself from any abuse or violence.
The National Curriculum Text Book Board approved the text in October 2014. "Physical Education and Health for Grade VII" is a subject under trial aiming to contribute to life skill development. Depending on evaluation and assessment, future course of action will be decided. A group of experts is developing a training manual to facilitate appropriate teaching and learning method for both teachers and students.