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China grapples with sex education
Posted: 21 Mar 2001
Unplanned pregnancies are skyrocketing among single women as sex education fails to keep pace with changing social values in the country's larger cities. Authorities in the eastern city of Shanghai are hoping to reverse the tide and have unveiled a 10-year plan to step up sex education for the city's 6 million adult men and women aged between 15 and 49.
"The city should do much more to promote safe sex, since only 12.97 per cent of adult men are using condoms. That's the main reason for unplanned pregnancies among local married women," Zhou Jianping, deputy director of the city Family Planning Commission, told local media.
To make women more aware of their options, neighbourhood-based networks in Shanghai will provide sex education to adolescents, young unmarried people, newlyweds, couples with a pregnancy, the middle-aged and older.
Some 311 reproduction service centres have already been set up around the city, but only 64 per cent of them are doing a good job of promoting sex education, Shanghai's Family Planning Commission said.
Hu Xiaoyu, a doctor at the Shanghai Centre for Reproductive Health Instruction which runs a 24-hour sex hotline, said traditional values have held people back from getting information.
"Because all of China's sex education was focused on married couples and because of traditional modesty many people are very reluctant to admit they are having sex before marriage, so they only come to us once they are pregnant," she explained.
Hu said awareness about reproductive health was growing. Condoms are available in drugstores and from machines, while the government is starting to push sex education in schools and at the neighbourhood level. However Hu said the main hurdle was still convincing people of the need to use a condom.
Source: Lateline News