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Sex Ed & Community Values (1:52) Excerpt from film "Dishing Democracy", August 2007
Egyptian men react to a discussion of an initiative in Qatar to include Sex Education in schools - a sensitive issue in many countries.

Country: Egypt

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Guiding Questions
  1. What are the reasons given in favor of the Sex Ed program in Qatar?

  2. Why do you think the topic of Sex Education causes such an emotional reaction? Should sex education be exclusively a family issue? Why or why not?

  3. In what ways do the arguments proposed in this clip show similarities between people in the west and the east? Are there other topics we share?
Background Essay
Kalam Nawaem or "Sweet Talk," a hugely popular Arabic talk show, led a discussion regarding the possibility of introducing sex education to youth in Qatar. In reaction to this broadcast, three Muslim men in Egypt shared their strong opinions on the matter.

Prior to 1990, television viewers in the Arab world had to rely upon the state for their programming options. There were not many channels available, and what was available was subject to government oversight. Since 1990, however, satellite TV has emerged as a popular alternative to standard broadcast stations. Currently, there are more than 200 satellite channels available, many of which confront formerly taboo topics such as sex education, homosexuality, domestic abuse, and gender inequality. The dramatic growth in independent journalism has led to live reporting, news analysis, political debates, and talk shows.

MBC was the first independent Arabic satellite television station, and it serves more than 130 million people around the world. One of its most popular shows is Kalam Nawaem, an all-female talk show. (Kalam Nawaem translates to English as Soft Talk, or Sweet Talk.) There are four hostesses who come from different backgrounds, and their goal is to discuss both new and frequent issues in the Arab world.

There are two parts to Kalam Nawaem. First, there is the celebrity feature, a portion of the show where there is an appearance by a celebrity guest. An informal conversation with the guest is followed by questions from the audience. Second, and perhaps more importantly, there is the lively discussion of controversial issues. The hostesses - Lebanese Rania Barghoot, Palestinian Farah Bseiso, Egyptian Dr. Fawziah Salamah, and Saudi Muna Abu Suleiman - hope that bringing these issues to light will create a dialogue about finding solutions that all people will accept and support.

In the episode entitled DISHING DEMOCRACY, WIDE ANGLE goes behind the scenes at Kalam Nawaem to discover how these four hostesses are boldly and effectively encouraging social reform within the Arab world.

Welcome to a new episode of Kalam Nawaem. Dear viewers, recently in Qatar there has been talk of providing sex education to the youth to address the negative influence of offensive subjects and provocative TV shows that elicit lust. The discussions were organized by the Qatar Charity Cooperative during Sex Education Week. The subjects included dealing with sexual desires, homosexuality, relationship issues, and sexual harassment.

It's a very important subject, Muna. Before people would avoid teaching sex education in schools. But we're now in a time and a world that is rather frightening. The things kids see on TV and the information they find on the Internet is outrageous.

We're uptight because we try to hide from children what's natural.

While Qatar is debating whether to introduce sex education, these viewers in Egypt would not allow it in their schools.

Man 1
We can't have that here. They want to teach them something about sex!

Man 2
They go to their parents' house, and the parents leave them behind closed doors alone.

That's not OK, we're Muslims.

Man 3
And it's Qatar that wants to apply the Islamic Sharia law.

Man 1
Things will only escalate that way. It'll create chaos, we can't have that.

The parents don't have enough information.

They want to tell us what to think. And now they're getting satellite TV to tell us about it. You know what? Next, they'll teach it in primary schools.

Related Links
Dishing Democracy on PBS.org

CIA World Factbook: Eqypt

The Middle East Media Research Institute TV Monitor Project

Mosaic-Link TV: World News from the Middle East

Women's Rights and Democracy in the Arab World

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