[Trauma warning: The following contains sexual assault/sexual violence, which may cause anxiety, please read with caution.] 】

Hong Kong citizens generally "talk about sexual discoloration" because of the long-term lack of sex education, serious backward sexual concepts, and lack of language on sexual issues, and the interaction of these three continues to deepen the "sexual assault myth" and allow innocent children to continue to victimize.

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"Sexuality education" is not a separate subject in Hong Kong, but is integrated into the relevant subjects as one of the teaching elements, which cannot guarantee the duration and quality of teaching. (Profile picture)

Just at the dinner table, Siqi said to her mother in a tone of bread and cream: "Our tutor seems to have everything, but there is no sex education." Mom looked at her in amazement and replied, "What sex education?" Sex education is for those who need sex. Isn't that what education is?" Siqi understood for a while that in this story, her parents would be absent forever, and they missed school, but they thought that school had not yet started. ——Excerpt from "Fang Siqi's First Love Paradise"

Sex education: You can't learn what you want to learn

The Hong Kong Government published the first Guidelines on Sex Education in Secondary Schools in 1986, which were revised as the Guidelines on Sex Education in Schools in 1997. However, according to the Education Bureau, the 1997 Guidelines are only for reference by schools when implementing sexuality education and are not strictly enforced. In 2018, the Guidelines were quietly removed from the Education Bureau's website, and no guidance document was published.

"Sexuality education" is not a separate subject in Hong Kong, but is integrated into the relevant subjects as one of the teaching elements, which cannot guarantee the duration and quality of teaching. A survey conducted by the Equal Opportunities Commission on the implementation of sex education in secondary schools in 2018/19 found that more than 9% of schools only allocated sex education classes of 20 hours or less for lower secondary and upper secondary grades, and nearly half of them had only 5 hours or less. During the pandemic, there was not enough time to complete mainstream subjects, and sex education was naturally treated coldly. According to the 2021 Gender Relations and Sex Education Survey Report released by the MWYO Youth Office, a think tank, 12% of junior high school students and 85% of high school students surveyed said that the average number of sex education hours per year was less than two hours. In terms of teaching content, students are very interested in the topic of "dealing with emotional relationships", among which boys most want to learn "pubertal physiology" and "masturbation", while girls are interested in "different sexual orientation/sexual niche issues" and "gender equality". Unfortunately, the topics that students are most interested in are considered "inadequate teaching" by 77% of students and above.

In 2018, the EOC released the Review of Sex Education in Schools, suggesting that "Sex Education" be renamed "Sexuality Education" or "Sexuality and Relationship Education", expanding the content of sex education from reproductive health information to help young people develop positive attitudes towards gender relations, gender roles and gender equality. In 2019, the EOC initiated a comprehensive sexuality education reform in Hong Kong, recommending to the Education Bureau to re-adopt and update the 22-year-old Guidelines on Sexuality Education in Schools, providing a systematic curriculum, setting recommended lesson hours for sexuality education, etc. However, the HKSAR Government has not yet responded to these appeals.

Ng Hoi Ya (second from right), president of the Hong Kong Sex Education Research and Treatment Professional Association, said that the organization found that many people have insufficient awareness of sexual assault, including the mistaken belief that sexual assault is not considered sexual assault without sexual intercourse, resulting in some subjects choosing to endure after being assaulted. (Photo by Zhang Jiamin)

Sexual ideas: more advanced than the Middle East

Ng Hoi Ya, President of the Hong Kong Sex Education Research and Treatment Association, has been concerned about the problem for many years and hopes that Hong Kong will implement specialized sex education, but the relevant initiative has not been realized. She pointed out that even though the government had issued guidelines on sex education, there were not enough teachers to receive relevant training, and the school curriculum was already busy, and the importance of sex education had long been relegated to the back seat, perhaps in the entire moral curriculum. She observed that sex education in many schools is currently "Reactive" rather than "Proactive", and has not formed a complete education system, because she has been invited to give speeches to secondary schools several times, based on the relevant events in the school, and will find someone to conduct temporary education.

Wu Haiya, a registered sex therapist herself, asked survivors of sexual assault when she was treating them: "How much of these influences come from the incident itself, how much does it come from social perceptions?" It turned out that although the experience of sexual assault is painful, what has a greater impact on them is the inherent framework of sex in the whole society, that is, the belief that sexual assault is a shameful and dirty thing. Wu Haiya said that in the early years, society's understanding of "sexual assault" was "immoral", and now with the opening of the social discussion framework and people's understanding of women's sexual needs, some distorted ideas have arisen, such as thinking that women will also get pleasure when they are sexually assaulted, so they did not call the police in time afterwards.

But it must be pointed out that it is only the instinctive reaction of the body, which is simply involuntary, and must not be misinterpreted as having fun in it. Many adults still can't understand correctly or even make clear distinctions, let alone children who don't understand anything?

Wu Haiya said that the lack of sex education in the whole society has led to the fact that the general public's concept of sex is quite backward. A typical example is that no matter what position people are in, the response to sexual assault victims is not ideal. She analyzed that this is because most people "talk about sexual discoloration" and cannot have a healthy and positive attitude towards "sex", so they will naturally hurt others without knowing it, or do not know how to condense space to encourage victims to tell their experiences.

Sexuality issues: There is no appropriate language

Therefore, the target of sex education, in addition to potential victims, is also potential perpetrators; The content of sex education, in addition to imparting relevant gender knowledge, should also popularize the understanding of "Only Yes means Yes", and let everyone know the physical and mental trauma of sexual assault victims, and remember that they should not commit sexual violence against others.

Between 2019 and 2021, Associate Professor Chan Cheng of the Department of Sociology and Social Policy of Lingnan University collaborated with Caritas Langten Project to interview the modus mentality of 50 men who had secretly photographed the bottom of their skirts, and published "Secretly Photographed: What Was Stole?" : Research Papers from the Perspective of Sexual Culture and Gender. The study found that most of them were influenced by the values of secretly photographing and objectifying women in society, viewing women's bodies as objects that could be viewed at will, "just when they see each other, they will want to know what color her panties are." The study also mentioned that after some secretly photographed people were discovered, the victim cried on the spot, which shocked him greatly, only to know that the victim's reaction was as serious as being sexually assaulted, and he did not realize that secretly photographed was also a kind of sexual violence. Research undoubtedly warns us that in today's society, even simple concepts such as "respect for women" and "respect for the body of others" can be learned by harming others for some people.

Wu Haiya also pointed out that another social problem caused by insufficient sex education is that there is no suitable language to talk about "sex". Because the whole society has no normal concept and language for "sex", and can only use subcultural language or dirty words to deduce, as a result, the narrative of "sex" is pushed to the fringes, and people do not know how to face it.

After 16 years, the Law Reform Commission's Sexual Offences Review Panel finalized a consultation report with a proposal to rename the crime of rape as sexual assault committed by insertion without consent because of the negative label of the term rape. However, it was felt that the change was redundant and less clear than the term rape; Some even believe that this is a glorification of the crime, because it obscures the seriousness of the crime and reduces the public's sense of disgust with the act in question; Support was also expressed for the inclusion of both male and transgender people.

"Dede Family Early Childhood Sex Education Book Series" is compiled by a group of education directors of the education team of the Family Planning Association, the book is aimed at children aged 3-6, a set of four volumes, namely "Human Body Museum" and "Where do I come from?" "Boys' Children and Children's", and "The Little Warrior of the Dede Family". (Photo by Huang Yingjin)

This discussion has led us to reflect on how "sex" should be told. You may wish to think differently: if you are unfortunately sexually assaulted, how can you avoid using vulgar and filthy words, and use euphemistic metaphors and hints to clearly describe the history and details of what happened? In this way, everyone will find that the words referring to "sexual behavior" and "sexual organs" are often used in pejorative and foul language; And many discussions about "sex" are often cut from a male perspective, compared to the lack of language from a non-male perspective. All of this makes sexual assault victims "unable to open their mouths", ashamed to tell their experiences of being violated, and for child victims, they are unable to even express their feelings.

The lack of language to speak about "sex" is a cause and effect of the absence of sex education. When we don't know how to talk about sex, we naturally don't know how to educate the next generation. Many parents and teachers themselves regard "sex" as a taboo, choose to use unclear metaphors to refer to the private parts of the human body, and some even keep their mouths shut about sex, thinking that children will naturally understand when they grow up. However, when children cannot obtain enough sexual knowledge from education, their curiosity about sex will not stop there, but will turn to peers, the Internet, film and television works, from which they can glimpse the meaning of sex, and what they learn will inevitably be subcultural, vulgar content, and even form the wrong concept of legitimizing sexual violence.

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Hong Kong Child Sexual Violence Helpline - Sexual Violence Victims Support Hotline: 23755322
Tung Wah Group of Hospitals - Chi Ruo Yuen Hotline: 18281
Seedling Care Fund: 2889 9933
Harmony Home - 24-hour Women's Helpline: 25220434
Hong Kong Association of Women's Centres - Women's Helpline
: 23866255
Po Leung Kuk - 24-hour Women's Helpline: 81001155
Social Welfare Department Hotline: 23432255
Hong Kong Family Planning Guidance Council: 25722222