Sitting in neat rows, a group of Pakistani schoolgirls in white headscarves listen intently as their teacher describes how their bodies will change during puberty. When she asks what they should do if a stranger touches them inappropriately, the class erupts. “Scream,” says one. “Bite,” suggests another. “Scratch really hard with your nails,” says a third.
Sex education, common in western schools, is taking place in deeply conservative rural Pakistan, a largely Muslim nation of 180 million people.
Approximately 700 girls are enrolled in eight schools run by the Village Shadabad Organisation. The sex education lessons begin when the pupils turn eight and cover puberty, rights issues, and teaches them how to defend themselves from attack.