Tuesday, May 25, 2004

1st Clinic For Sex Education & Consultation In The Arab World

“The Marital Happiness School” is the first clinic of its kind in the Arab world. It’s in Cairo and is the first clinic specializing in sex education. The clinic is run by Dr. Heba Kotb, a lecturer of forensic medicine and toxicology at Cairo University recently completed a degree in clinical sexology at the Maimonides University in Florida, and a male colleague, Dr. Mohamed Waly, a gynaecologist and obstetrician. “I first became interested in this field after completing my MD thesis on sexual assault, covering normal and abnormal sexuality. Sexology is barely touched on by doctors in Egypt; you find it only as a subsidiary to gynaecology or endology, so I saw that there was a real need for this. I decided to make it my career” she said. The great part is she gives verses from The Holy Quran that explains sexual relationships. There is a very famous saying in Islam: “In Islam there is no shame in any form of learning”. Therefore students should learn everything about the relationship between men and women, the right way. Education should cover every aspect of sexual relationships, not only within the context of marriage, but also what is allowed between friends. Rules of social behavior, manners, family relationships and how a husband and wife should treat each other should all be discussed.
As well as marriage counseling and courses for pre and post wedding couples, Dr. Kotb also runs special courses for adolescents, filling in the many gaps in their high school education. She comments: ”Don’t believe anyone who tells you that sex education is covered by the national curriculum. Teenagers leave school knowing nothing. The average sex education class is ten minutes with a slide projector in a darkened room, and then a bit of reading at home which no-one checks on.” In her program for adolescents, Dr. Kotb teaches boys and girls separately, in small study groups. The questions posed are mainly like: where does the real pleasure in sex come from, what are the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways of practicing it, how to masturbate, and what are the functions of the male and female sexual organs during intercourse and ‘what is the joy in sex’. According to Dr. Kotb, dealing with men is to her more tensing, specially the first few minutes. But when the men see that the conversation is based on scientific explanations with the support of religious education, then they loosen up and the embarrassment is gone. She says that whether Muslims or non-Muslims, she always supports her explanation with verses of Quran and Islamic interpretation, because they have discussed everything and gave reasons for everything.

From his part, Dr. Waly says: “As a gynaecologist I see the consequences of sexual malpractice and I get asked advice by my female patients. Most girls getting married have a very rudimentary knowledge of sex. They neither know what they should know, nor what they are missing. Vaginismus (the involuntary tightening of the vaginal muscles due to tension) is a very common problem, making it impossible for male penetration and leading to unhappiness within the marriage. Ignorance is the cause. Whatever girls have been told about sex, often it has just served to make them nervous. It’s very important when we counsel couples to educate the husband about female sexuality, as in this society men have difficulty admitting to their own sexual problems, and very little understanding about the female anatomy.”
Dr. Kotb added: “The traditional way of mothers passing down information to their daughters often makes things worse, since the advice is usually not to show any enjoyment for fear your new husband think you might be experienced. Never react, never ask questions and never initiate sex, they are told. This leads to the husband feeling humiliated and rejected. In our courses we teach that God made human sexuality not just as a way to have children but also for enjoyment within marriage. We place emphasis on the pleasurable side.”

I think this is a very huge step forward. I’m really impressed and hope other Arab countries will be providing sex education and consultation to their people. In this way, people would know whom to turn to for knowledge, and they’ll be getting the right answers that guarantee healthy relationships, instead of tuning to porn movies and consulting other friends who might also not be aware of sexual relationships and lack the right kind of education.
Sources: Qantara(Arabic) and Egypt’s Insight Online Magazine (English) .