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“Sex Education” Has Finally Been Acknowledged by Chinese Law

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Sex education has always been a tricky issue in traditionally conservative China, where school systems have struggled to generate momentum behind the subject.

But in a sweeping new set of protections for minors both on and offline, the phrase “sex education” has finally been written into Chinese law for the first time.

The revised law emphasizes the responsibility of schools in educating minors about sexual issues, something that the public pushed for after several high-profile crimes against children drew viral outrage. Under the legislation, sex education classes will be the new norm, and schools will be required to check the legal records of teacher applicants before approving them.

Sex education in China has faced a difficult road — a 2019 UNESCO / UNFPA study found that when presented with the statement “a woman cannot refuse to have sex with her husband,” less than half of its participants disagreed. According to a 2015 China Family Planning Association study, only 10% of 20,000 university students surveyed had received sex education.

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The government’s “Healthy China 2030” plan draws on elements of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), which “aims to equip children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will empower them to: realize their health, well-being and dignity; develop respectful social and sexual relationships; consider how their choices affect their own well-being and that of others; and, understand and ensure the protection of their rights throughout their lives.”

The new laws go into effect June 1, 2021.

Lakshmi Iyengar
    Lakshmi Iyengar is a Yenching Scholar studying health, economics, and modern China. Before moving to Beijing, she majored in Biomedical Engineering at Yale. Follow her on twitter @vlakshmiiyengar for insights on China and life