Sex education, I remember it well. I was 18 and was in the final year of high school. A teacher reminded us to silence. He would tell us something that we were not allowed to laugh at. The girls had to go to the right side of the room and the boys to the left. Both groups were shown a picture where we were explained how a baby is made. What the girls got to see I do not know, but we could not be together. How different it is in the Netherlands. When children go to kindergarten they know the difference between the genitals of a boy and a girl. I knew for a long time only that girls had long hair and boys had not. At the end of primary school the children learn about sex, a little later on contraceptives. I saw a movie of Dr. Claudia explaining in detail the children how it all fits together. In Syria, we all know it, of course, a certain age, but we hear it on the street, no teachers and doctors. When I was visiting a Dutch family, asked the father of the family to me what Mary means to Muslims. I wanted to say something about the pregnancy of Mary. That this came about without having sex with her husband. I did not know how I could tell that story without the word ‘sex’. I began to stutter and cumbersome to talk. Droplets of sweat beaded on my forehead while I made my way through all the words. Nobody understood. The son said in the family: “ooooh you mean that Mary has not had sex with her husband.” I looked directly into the father of the family. He would be angry that I started about sex in front of his wife and children. He was not angry, he laughed at my clumsiness. Well Dutch are more accustomed. I have not. I am afraid of a shop window full of sex stuff. It feels uncomfortable to see a headband with two big wobbly plastic penises it. Or what about a dating program in which the participants are nude, or pasta in the shape of a penis. Well, openness is good, but I like it here sometimes a little exaggerated.


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