Betty Gebre - Ecuador

November 26, 2012

Someone once told me that they heard: “The best method to prevent childhood/unwanted pregnancy and the spread of sexual diseases is to practice abstinence, but since people are going to have sex anyways you need to teach them sex education.” When I learned that the main reason for the high number of childhood pregnancy in Ecuador was due to the lack of sex education due to the cultures consideration of sex as a sinful topic, it did not shock me because I too could identify with a similar culture. Coming from Ethiopia, I have experienced the lack of sex education in the household. For my own mother never discussed boys with me let alone sex; she just hinted by her facial expression when I talked to boys or by her comments about teen moms, that they were things she did not approve of.

Growing up as a church girl, all my “good friends” or at least the friends I was allowed to hang out with were all from church. One can imagine how expecting a group of church going Ethiopian teens to discuss sex is absurd since we were taught that “talking about sex shows curiosity and curiosity in this topic is bad.” Sure those embarrassing sex-Ed classes I took at school filled a small gap of my curiosity. But for me I needed more than a teacher standing in front of a class to tell me that “having sex was natural as long as I was having safe sex”; I needed to hear that from someone who was doing more than just their job.

It was last year in Brazil that I became more comfortable talking about sex after being enlightened by an American woman I met while there. She talked to me about her sexuality as if she was telling me about her favorite book. She said “I was in college when I lost my virginity. Now I am smarter about sex and choose to carry a condom with me; you just never know anything can happen. It’s better to be safe than sorry.” she said. “The chances of me pausing having sex to go buy a condom are very slim to none. Why would I even want to put myself in a situation where I might have to risk my health and my future plans because I was too embarrassed to carry a condom? We are sexual beings and instead of being shy about it we need to learn to accept it and work with it”

Nobody had ever talked to me bluntly about sex before. For a while my friends and I joked saying “I am going to invest in some condoms when I returned to the states.” I am not suggesting that people carry around condoms with them everywhere they go nor am I trying to justifying people having sex with whomever or whenever. But I think it’s important for us to accept that we are all sexual beings and instead of trying to avoid this fact. We should learn to approach it and become comfortable talking about it so that it does not build a road block in the life of many young girls who are misguided about their curiosity.

Betty Gebre