Breaking down taboos with each generation

High-school teacher Nevjana Muça of Tirana says it is getting easier to discuss sexuality education in schools. “In the past, I have asked students to discuss certain topics, and have had them reply that their fathers don’t allow them to talk about that. I don’t encounter those kinds of difficulties so much now, though taboos unfortunately still persist,” says Muça. “We emphasize to all parents, teachers and students that the more informed young people are when they start sexual relationships, the better and healthier these relationships will be, and the more responsible, mature and prepared these young people will be in life.”
Oriana Osmani, a mother from Tirana, says she wanted her now 18-year-old daughter “to know as much as possible about sexuality education.” Even though it was awkward when her daughter was younger, she chose not to turn off the TV when a sexual scene came on in a movie, and instead tried to talk openly about what was being shown on screen. “I didn’t have any experience like that with my own mother, so it was difficult for me,” Osmani says. “I believe it will be easier for my daughter to talk to her children about sex when she becomes a parent.”
The sexual and reproductive health lessons introduced at Marjo Rabiaj’s school in Ballsh inspired him to get trained as a peer educator himself. He volunteers for a youth organization that promotes youth issues, including healthy lifestyles, sexuality education and youth participation. “I love spreading the word among my peers that every young person has the right to live a healthy life and build a safe future, and that sexuality education helps us do that,” Rabiaj says.
The frank discussions in school also helped Rabiaj and his girlfriend talk more openly about sex and their relationship, he says. “We had so many questions, which were now being answered,” he says. “We feel more at ease now, we talk openly, and I think we have a healthy sexual life now and are protecting each other and helping each other stay healthy.”