Pakistani village gives girls pioneering sex education class
JOHI, Pakistan - In neat rows, the Pakistani girls in white headscarves listened carefully as the teacher described the changes in their bodies. When the teacher asked what they should do if a stranger touched them, the class erupted.
"Scream!" one called out.
"Bite!" another suggested.
"Scratch really hard with your nails!" a third said.
Sex education is common in Western schools but these ground-breaking lessons are taking place in deeply conservative rural Pakistan, a Muslim nation of 180 million people.
Publicly talking about sex in Pakistan is taboo and can even be a death sentence. Parents have slit their daughters' throats or doused them in acid for crimes as innocuous as dancing at a wedding or looking out the window.
Almost nowhere in Pakistan offers any kind of organised sex education. In some places it has been banned.
But teachers operating in the village of Johi in poverty-stricken Sindh province say most families there support their sex education project.
Around 700 girls are enrolled in eight local schools run by the Village Shadabad Organisation. Their sex education lessons - starting at age eight - cover changes in their bodies, what their rights are and how to protect themselves.
"We cannot close our eyes," said Akbar Lashari, head of the organisation. "It's a topic people don't want to talk about but it's fact of our life."