From ’8 in 10 young Singaporeans have unprotected sex with new partners’, 26 Sept 2011, article in asiaone.com
Eight in 10 young Singaporeans have unprotected sex with new partners. This is one of the highest rates in the Asia-Pacific, according to the survey conducted by Bayer Healthcare.
The survey was conducted in July to mark World Contraception Day today. According to The Straits Times, 1,800 respondents aged between 20 and 35 were involved, out of which were 100 men and 100 women from Singapore.
Online sources also reported that the survey found Singaporeans to be among the least knowledgeable about contraceptives. 25 per cent believed in at least one contraception myth – for example, having a shower after sex, or rinsing the genital area with Coca-Cola, can prevent pregnancy.
The survey also found that a large number of young Singaporeans receive their information about contraception mostly from the Internet, as well as through friends and religious/spiritual leaders.
I’ve looked at the original results from the ‘Clueless or Clued Up’ media report sponsored by Bayer and I’ve no CLUE how the astonishing figure ’8 in 10′ came about. A total of 201 Singaporean subjects were interviewed in the age range of 16-19 and according to the infographic below, 47% of sexually active young Singaporeans surveyed had sex with a new partner without contraception. This is a more realistic figure which squares with a similar survey conducted in 2002 by Durex (50% for subjects 16-20). Still, one should look at these figures bearing in mind that the studies are almost always sponsored either by a company that wants to sell teenagers contraceptive pills, or one that wants to sell them condoms. They all talk about the importance of education, protection and support from family and society, yet the word ‘abstinence’ was mentioned only once in the ‘Clueless’ report, simply because you can’t make any money out of it.
Further in the report I uncovered further statistics on the attitude of young couples towards contraception, though the report was ambiguous on what they meant by the this (condoms, oral contraceptives, rhythm method?)
A worrying lack of understanding about the importance of contraception was shown in some countries. A relatively common explanation given for not using contraception is that young people don’t feel that it is ‘cool’. For example, in countries such as Korea, Slovenia and Singapore, 14%, 13% and 12% of young people respectively cited this as a reason.
…Alarmingly, approximately half of young men and women in Kenya (49%), Uganda (47%), China (51%) and India (50%) said that they were not very familiar at all with the different contraceptive options available to them. This is also true of 40% of young people in Lithuania and 42% in Korea and Singapore.
In spite of our high standards of schooling and sex education efforts, we’re still not that much better off than the African nations, which means either our curriculum is hopeless, or our kids just can’t be bothered. Further in the report, 19% of those interviewed believed that bathing after sex would prevent pregnancy. Well maybe that would work only if you had a fireman’s hose gushed at full blast into your uterus instead of a normal shower head. While nearly all Singaporean youngsters attended sex education classes, only half of Indonesians or Indians did so, yet both Singaporeans and Indians were aware only of an average 2.8 contraceptive methods. 1 of which is using the world’s best selling carbonated drink as a douche, a myth that’s more than half a century old. I’m not sure if the spermicidal effects of Coke is the result of its toxic sugar content, or the work of ants burrowing into your nether regions for a liquid snack, but a study was actually conducted in 1985 to determine whether normal Coke or Diet Coke killed sperm better (Diet Coke)
But what’s really troubling is that this isn’t the mindset of primary school kids, but late teens who ought to be resourceful with matters related to sex or pregnancy prevention, even if parents or teachers refuse to talk about it, and not subscribe to old wives’ tales passed down from a classmate’s grandmother, who belongs to a generation not known for keeping their families tiny in any case.
Then there’s the old chestnut of blaming porn for our alarming promiscuity. According to the report, only 18% of total Singaporeans surveyed had sexual intercourse, second lowest on the list (bottom is Korea), but look at those countries renown for their strict anti-porn laws. Indonesia has twice as many youths as us having sex, while China leads the Asian nations with 41%. Which means there’s something else contributing to this epidemic of irresponsible, prepubescent sex, but the investigators are so keen on figuring out why they’re not using contraception than determining why have sex at all. A crucial question, I thought, would be what their first exposure to sexual imagery was like. Whether it’s something they watched on video, read in a Twilight novel, seen their parents in action or hearsay from classmates, which could provide some insight into all this raunchy business.
An important corollary of such statistics is the rate of teenage abortions or STDs, and the trending is dishearteningly consistent with the ‘Clueless’ survey, with some 14 year old girls already contracting gonorrhoea and chlamydia according to a 2008 report, even younger than those selected for the study. Which implies the figures, generated from those 16-19 only, could very well be an underestimate. So who still thinks that Singaporeans are not having enough sex?