Students provide cross-cultural perspective on taboos of sex education

Conversations about sex become more open as women grow older

When+Rehael+Mufti%2C+senior+marketing+and+human+resources+major%2C+went+to+school+in+Britain%2C+she+found+conversations+were+more+open+compared+to+her+own+culture.+

ANH NGO

When Rehael Mufti, senior marketing and human resources major, went to school in Britain, she found conversations were more open compared to her own culture.

PUNEET BSANTI

Sex is a subject that can be controversial to some or normal to others, however, Pakistani and Latin cultures have their own ways of approaching this topic. 

Born in Pakistan and raised in Dubai, Rehael Mufti, senior marketing and human resources major, said sex is and has always been taboo within her culture. To this day, she has never spoken about the subject with her parents. 

“It’s also kind of also avoided in the education system, so what I’ve been told there are crossed out pictures [about sex] in textbook, and it’s something not really spoken about,” she said. 

In Dubai, Mufti said she went to a British school, so sex is more openly talked about there among students. However, when she went back home, no one would speak about it. 

“I think I remember one lesson when I was in high school, and where they just kind of were like, this is how children are made, and that was it,” she said. 

Salma Lustre, a junior chemistry major whose parents are from Mexico, never spoke about sex until she was older. 

“Before the age of 15, it was very hush, hush. Don’t touch boys; don’t get near bullies. It’s mainly trying to stay away from the opposite sex when it comes to our culture,” she said. 

Lustre said she was not allowed to be friends with boys unless her parents knew his parents. 

“They knew that if anything were to happen, they know who to talk to, instead of not knowing who the guy was and being scared that something might happen at the end. So it was a little difficult,” she said. 

However, things changed for Lustre once she did get older. 

“They know I am in a relationship right now. So they’re just like, make sure that you’re careful. Don’t do anything that you’re gonna end up regretting later at the end. Just try to be safe instead of being sorry,” she said. 

Lustre said once girls turn 15, they are considered “women” and are allowed to have more open conversations about sex. However, with men and women, the conversations are different.

“With men, it’s just more the parents are like, ‘oh my god, just make sure you don’t get a girl pregnant,’ and with a woman, they’re just like, ‘don’t do anything that you’ll end up regretting,’” she said.

Mufti said sex is a topic that should be more talked about but only to a certain extent.

“I think it’s 50/50. There are certain things that should be open, but maybe that’s just because I’ve not been so open to it growing up,” she said.

Mufti said it is important that everyone knows how to practice safe sex, and the openness of the topic in the U.S. helps normalize buying contraceptives.  

Lustre said if she has kids, she would want to incorporate what her parents did when it came to the topic of sex into her parenting style, but she would alter it, knowing what she learned about the subject. However, she is still learning more every day.