In Malaysia, there is a culture of shame surrounding unwed mothers, as the story of one woman who got pregnant at 21 shows. Social judgement drives these women to dump ‘unclean’ babies born out of wedlock. “Because you have tampered with the holiness of the community, you will be kicked out,” said Zeeda Aziz, a social worker.
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In Muslim-majority Malaysia, social conservatism also means that sex education is seen as promoting promiscuity. Instead, abstinence is encouraged. “When you tell somebody abstinence, how far can you control a person’s behavior?” said Caroline Joy, a sex education and contraception workshop trainer. Instead, a national commitment to change community attitudes and training of teachers is needed, said Dr JohnTeo, Medical Adviser, Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia.
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