Why are Pakistani People Curious About Sexual Health?

 Sexual health is a fundamental human right and is central to reducing poverty and improving long-term health¹. In Pakistan, many women and young people face barriers that prevent them from exercising this right¹. This article explores why Pakistani people are curious about sexual health, their concerns, and potential solutions.


**Why are Pakistani People Curious About Sexual Health?**


The curiosity about sexual health in Pakistan can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, an estimated 64% of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30², which means there is a large youth population seeking information about their changing bodies and sexual health. Secondly, the taboo nature of sexual health topics in Pakistani society² may also contribute to the curiosity, as people often seek information about subjects that are considered forbidden or off-limits.


**Sexual Health Concerns in Pakistan**


Pakistan struggles with high maternal mortality ratios, adolescent birth rates, and unmet need for contraception¹. The country has the third highest burden of maternal, fetal, and child mortality globally¹. Fertility is considerably higher in rural communities than in urban areas, with most rural women having 4.2 children on average¹. Despite the fact that 96% of married Pakistani women are aware of at least one modern contraceptive method, the contraceptive prevalence rate remains low at 26%, meaning that a majority of people are not using birth control methods¹.


**Solutions to Sexual Health Concerns in Pakistan**


Several organizations are working to improve sexual health in Pakistan. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) strives to ensure quality sexual and reproductive health information and services, including contraceptive services, violence against women and girls, and sexual reproductive health needs of adolescents¹. They have helped build the capacity of health professionals at local levels – nurses, midwives, and lady health visitors – to deliver quality sexual reproductive health information and services¹.


The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has implemented many different approaches to reach young people with sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) information and services². These include establishing Youth Resource Centers, conducting weekly community awareness sessions, introducing youth community theatre, conducting Life Skill-Based Education sessions at academic institutions, and running TV, radio, print, and social media campaigns².




While there are significant challenges to sexual health in Pakistan, organizations like UNFPA and IPPF are making strides in providing information and services to those who need them. However, more work needs to be done to ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and to break down the cultural, social, and religious barriers that prevent people, particularly young people, from accessing these services¹².


Source: Conversation with Bing, 29/11/2023

(1) UNFPA Pakistan | Sexual and reproductive health. https://pakistan.unfpa.org/en/topics/sexual-and-reproductive-health-9.

(2) Pakistan: Reaching young people with sexual health services. https://www.ippf.org/featured-perspective/pakistan-reaching-young-people-sexual-health-services.

(3) Investing in the Sexual and Reproductive Health of Adolescents in Pakistan. https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/investing-sexual-and-reproductive-health-adolescents-pakistan.

(4) Sex Education for Teenagers & It’s importance in Pakistan. https://oladoc.com/health-zone/sex-education-for-teenagers-its-importance-in-pakistan/.

(5) What sex education is really about - D+C Development and Cooperation. https://www.dandc.eu/en/article/pakistan-shows-why-comprehensive-sex-education-would-improve-young-peoples-lives.


In addition to the concerns mentioned earlier, there are several other sexual health issues in Pakistan:


1. **Violence and Discrimination**: Women, religious minorities, and transgender people in Pakistan continue to face violence, discrimination, and persecution, with authorities often failing to provide adequate protection or hold perpetrators to account¹.

2. **Criminalization of Same-Sex Sexual Conduct**: Pakistan’s penal code criminalizes same-sex sexual conduct, placing men who have sex with men and transgender people at risk of police abuse, and other violence and discrimination¹.

3. **Intimate Partner Violence**: In 2018, 16.2% of women aged 15-49 years reported that they had been subject to physical and/or sexual violence by a current or former intimate partner in the previous 12 months⁴.

4. **Unpaid Care and Domestic Work**: Women and girls aged 10+ spend 18.8% of their time on unpaid care and domestic work, compared to 1.8% spent by men⁴.


These issues highlight the need for comprehensive sexual education, legal reform, and social support systems to address these concerns and promote sexual health and rights in Pakistan.


Source: Conversation with Bing, 29/11/2023

(1) World Report 2021: Pakistan | Human Rights Watch. https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2021/country-chapters/pakistan.

(2) Country Fact Sheet | UN Women Data Hub. https://data.unwomen.org/country/pakistan.

(3) Sexual Practices and Sexual Health Among Three Generations ... - Springer. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12119-018-9566-7.

(4) Women’s Health Issues in Pakistan in 2023! - Healthwire. https://healthwire.pk/healthcare/womens-health-issues-in-pakistan/.

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