How I Learned About Sex, Menstruation And The Human Body As A Pakistani Girl

By Aam Nawab | 23 Feb, 2019

First of all, let’s just quickly start with what sex education really is. Just so we have the haw, yeh-kya-baqwas-kar-rahe-hain element out of the way.


Sex education usually pertains to giving out instructions on issues relating to:

  • human sexuality
  • sexual anatomy
  • emotional relations
  • sexual activity and reproduction
  • the concept of consent
  • health and rights
  • precautions and contraception
  • abstinence
  • responsibilities that come with all of this

A quick Wikipedia search will explain all this to you too.



However, in our culture, the entire concept of and any discussion around sex in any way is considered to be taboo.

We tend to associate it with something evil, something demeaning. And so, anything that may benefit us pertaining to the topic is written off as begairat as well.

I, as a Pakistani girl, was not expected to know about anything pertaining to sex until the night of my marriage. That sounds ridiculous now when I think about it. There’s so much that you need to know beforehand, so much that you need to prepare for. There are countless misconceptions about the female anatomy that still exist within the framework of our society. There’s a dire lack of understanding of the concept of consent.



And the unfortunate bit is – we still choose to brush off any conversation because we term it indecent.

I still remember when I was in Grade 5 and pretty much all the kids in my batch were nearing puberty. A female instructor came in to talk to us about our bodies. The guys in my batch – they must’ve been around 10-years-old, were told to go downstairs to the playground for those classes. And the girls were kept separate, while the instructor tiptoed around the conversation with a profound vagueness.

By the end of the lectures, I was left more confused than ever.


She referred to the act of sex as “doing the deed,” skipping over any important details that we could benefit from. She referred to the vagina as the urinal area – a concept that is all too untrue, for the vagina and urethra are two very separate pathways.

I was left misinformed, misdirected and thoroughly bewildered. I remember the instructor telling us to talk about menstruation with our mothers. She told us it was something sacred, something that should stay between you and God.

And I couldn’t help but wonder why that was so. 

I went home that day and my nearly pubescent self asked my mother about menstruation. She got mad and told me to stop being indecent.

When I eventually did get my period, I thought I had a severe illness and had to call my neighbor, who happened to be traveling, for help. I didn’t know how to stop the bleeding. I didn’t know if it was normal. I didn’t even know how to wear a sanitary napkin.

With a stained shalwar and determined mind, I knew I needed answers before such things happened again. Therefore, I turned to the internet.


Fun fact: if you let you try to blind your children to certain aspects of life, their curiosity will lead them to discover more than they need.

And discover I did.

I was led to the corners of the internet that left me clearing my browsing history a bit too often. The more I discovered, the more questions I had. And as the questions grew in my mind, I was frustrated and enraged that there was no one around to answer them. So I searched for more terms and instilled in my mind a distorted version of sex and the workings of the human body. I grew up with these distorted notions, till I found more sensible websites and books as a guide. But the ridiculousness of it all – the hush-hush attitude of those who are supposed to guide us left me more amused than frustrated.

I think back to when I was sitting in an actual Physiology lecture. The slide projected onto the board talked about reproduction and its method.

I clearly remember how the Professor stopped, turned crimson and said, “Yeh sab ghar pe parh lena.” 

This was a second-year M.B.B.S. class.


I soon realized that jo bhi karlo yaha – bas – you cannot talk about sex.

Because it’s too indecent. Because it’s wrong. Because it’s begairti. But what if the indecency, the wrongness, and the begairti are limited only to the confines of our mind?

What if knowing about contraception helps save a woman who isn’t supposed to be pregnant the third time? What if knowing about the morning after pill helps save a rape victim the trauma of abortion, or giving birth to a child born of sexual assault?


What if we simply broadened our minds, understanding the concept that some topics need not be taboo due to our narrow-mindedness?

I had the chance to educate myself because I had the means to do so. However, not everyone has that privilege or luxury. And isn’t it a gross disservice to them to be so blissfully unaware and ignorant of their own selves and bodies?

There is a stark difference between creating awareness around sex and sexual health and encouraging sex. Perhaps, once we are able to see the fine line with our own naked eyes, we will start pushing for Sex Education.

Till then, Internet Zindabad, I suppose.

What is your take on this? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Cover image via Shutterstock

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