Meet The Local Advocate Championing For Better Sex Education In Malaysia
Through a dedicated Instagram account, talks, workshops, and programmes, Jasmine King is trying to normalise conversations about sex in Malaysia, as well as localise them to make the topic more relatable.
Here in Malaysia, sex is still somewhat of a taboo topic — something to be talked about in hushed voices and behind closed doors.
Enter Jasmine Rajah, a Sex Positive Advocate who is aiming to change Malaysian's mentality towards sex and everything that comes with it.
Better known as Jasmine King for her sexual wellness work, she runs Jasexplains, a safe, sex positive, and educational platform that empowers individuals to make informed choices on their bodies, sexualities, and rights.
Hailing from Sabah but currently based in Kuala Lumpur, she is passionate about championing for sex positivity — believing that exploring sex, pleasure, gender identity, and expressions are inherently natural and beautiful, instead of it being shameful or disgusting.
"No matter what your stance on sex is, I believe that we should all agree that consent, respect, and boundaries are key to any healthy relationship (romantic or not).
"I enjoy creating conversations surrounding these topics. Whether it be through topic discussions via Instagram stories, the content I share on my social media, through in-person and virtual talks, discussions or workshops, or even my podcast… My aim is to normalise and localise the conversation to the Malaysian experience," shared the 32-year-old in an interview with SAYS.
Jasexplains started as a passion project, something that Jasmine wanted to do outside of her day job, but quickly took on a life of its own and is becoming a career that she's pursuing
What started as a platform to normalise sex positive conversations slowly became a space to celebrate self worth, confidence, and appreciation of all bodies and sexual experiences and values," said Jasmine, explaining how the page has grown.
On average, her readers are in the late 20s to early 40s age range, with many of them having grown up being exposed to fear-based or abstinence-based sex education. According to Jasmine, growing up with this teaching has impacted her readers as well as herself greatly, and often, not in a positive way.
"To grow up thinking that sex and pleasure is something we should shy away or be afraid of because they're dirty and wrong is very confusing. Some of my readers would ask me, 'How can something that feels so good be so wrong?' So, I wanted to explore that with them and to break the stereotype that we need to look or be a certain way to be worthy of love and desire," she explained.
In addition to the informative and educational topics she talks about, Jasmine also uses Jasexplains to shine a spotlight on real life experiences such as slut shaming, sexual harassment, boundaries not being respected, sexual performance anxiety, porn expectations, and more.
By doing this, she hopes that her platform will serve as a healing space for her readers, and also for herself, as these are things that she has experienced personally.
Beyond Jasexplains, Jasmine also champions for sex positivity and education in different ways. This includes running a podcast, as well as various ad-hoc programmes and events.
Her podcast, I Wish Someone Told Me, features raw, unfiltered conversations with fellow Asians on their sexual journeys or work in sexual wellness. People she has spoken with range from normal everyday folks to advocates who champion for sexual empowerment and bodily autonomy.
The Penampang native strongly believes in sex education for the younger generation. In her opinion, age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education is a way to empower children, youths, and adults in making informed decisions about their bodies as a way to protect themselves against predators.
As such, Jasmine used to run Girls' Circle sessions in Fugee School, which were aimed towards empowering refugee girls aged 13 to 19 to be confident, resilient, and brave young women. The sessions provided a safe space for the students to share their thoughts on life and school, be reminded of their boundaries and worth, be equipped with self development tools, and be inspired by real life stories of other refugee girls living in Malaysia.
Recalling some events that she's particularly proud of, Jasmine detailed, "One of my proudest achievements was organising a webinar session alongside ONE featuring sexuality educators, advocates, and influencers from Southeast Asia. We had speakers from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam with over 100 participants tuning in, which was really cool.
"Another achievement was speaking at an international sexuality festival featuring Asian speakers from all over the world which happened during MCO. That experience opened many opportunities to me and truly shaped Jasexplains to what it is today, which I am truly grateful for."
Through her various experiences of answering Malaysians questions about sex, Jasmine has seen first-hand the consequences of not having proper sex education
She told SAYS just some of the real-life examples she has experienced:
"A few years ago I went to a secondary school to teach about sex education, specifically on healthy and unhealthy relationships. A student came up to me and told me about her ex-boyfriend who did not agree with their breakup and harassed her non-stop, telling her how he would tell her family that they had a sexual relationship even though they didn't. It was only after attending my talk that she realised what was happening to her wasn't normal — it was harassment and abuse.
"In the same school, another student asked me if it was true that you wouldn't get pregnant if you've just started having sex. The student and his partner were sexually active, and he genuinely believed that she wouldn't get pregnant because they were each other's firsts. So, all the while, they had never worn any condoms. Luckily, she never got pregnant.
"I also had an adult client who experienced a sex injury that led to her having to go to the hospital. It was caused by trying to copy sex positions she and her husband saw in porn. She told me she wasn't comfortable with some of the positions because it was tough and uncomfortable for her, but she didn't feel like she had a say because she didn't want to disappoint her husband."
Having these experiences is a huge part of why Jasmine believes that a lot needs to be done in order to improve sex education in Malaysia
What she thinks would help to create more awareness and support for sex education is changing the language around it.
For example, using terms such as 'Comprehensive Sexuality Education' (CSE) or 'age-appropriate sex education', which give more context in comparison to a blanket term, thus expanding the definition of what sex education truly is.
She also emphasised the importance of ensuring that teachers are not only well-equipped and trained to teach these topics, but also know how to create a safe and judgement-free space for their students.
Plus, the lessons themselves should be age-appropriate as per UNFPA's international technical guidance on sexuality education.
Some of the topics in the guidance include:
- Values, rights, culture, and sexuality
- Violence and staying safe
- The human body and development
- Sexual and reproductive health
On the flip side of things, the most difficult part of Jasmine's journey as a Sex Positive Advocate is having to deal with something that no one should have to face — unwanted sexual comments and advances
Speaking on her personal experiences, she elaborated, "I think the biggest challenge is meeting people who do not see me for the work that I do, but rather, they see me as someone who because I am openly talking about these topics, I am automatically open to sexual advances and am expected to say yes to them.
"This is the downside of being a sex educator, especially a female educator; though this experience is not unique to women alone, it happens to just about all sex educators and advocates.
"In the past, I used to find myself wanting to respond to everyone's messages and inquiries because I genuinely want to help. I have since stopped doing that and have been very selective to whom I respond to, especially if I find their messages suspicious."
Despite it all, Jasmine remains passionate about her chosen career and is pushing full steam ahead on her mission to educate Malaysians.
Her one piece of advice? That everyone should prioritise their sexual and reproductive health.
"Don't just visit doctors when there are problems or when you want to conceive, but actively check up on yourself.
"If you are someone who is sexually active either in a monogamous relationship or a casual one with multiple partners, going for STD testing and screening is important. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends testing to be done at least once a year or in between partners. For those who have multiple partners, testing twice a year would be good.
"It's important to know that HIV/AIDS isn't the only one you should think about, there are other STIs and STDs out there too. Early detection is key. It reduces the chances of further infection and allows treatment to take place immediately to prevent complications in the future," she said.
If you'd like to learn more and educate yourself on sex positivity, you can check out Jasmine's upcoming events happening throughout October and November
Femtech Fes! 2022: A Call to Action for Inclusive Sexual Education in Asia
Held via Zoom, this panel discussion discusses inclusive sexual education in Asia. Featuring speakers from Japan, Malaysia, and Australia, Jasmine is one of the panelists, and will be sharing what inspired her to create a safe space for Malaysians to learn and discover themselves.
Date: 15 October
Time: 2pm - 3pm
After Dark Series
An event in collaboration with Supparetreat, where themed topics are discussed in a safe, sex positive, and non-judgemental space. Open to all genders of all sexual experiences.
Date: Every Tuesday in October
Time: 8pm - 10pm
Venue: Wondrous Curations Studio, A-3A-8 Centrio Pantai Hillpark
Price: RM39 (virtual experience) | RM69 (in-person experience)
The Goddess and The Warrior
A four-day retreat that's all about exploring and discovering your needs, as well as helping you reach for your desires. It will also cover getting in touch with the inner goddess and inner warrior in all of us, the yin and yang. As one of the six coaches for the retreat, Jasmine will be focusing on sex positivity and confidence.
Date: 24 - 27 November
Venue: The Hooton Retreat, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan
In addition to the above two events, Jasmine also has an all-women half-day event focusing on self confidence and sexual empowerment coming up sometime in mid November. More info to be released soon.
Follow Jasexplains for informative content on sex positivity, and to stay updated on Jasmine's future events and programmes
Look out for more #sexualhealth stories and tips this month!
From contraceptives to vibrators, and intimacy to abstinence, no topic is off limits. Join us in normalising conversations surrounding sexual health.