As part of a campaign to tackle an epidemic of "baby-dumping", Malaysia said Friday it is considering introducing sex education in schools across the Muslim-majority nation.
Conservative elements have opposed the introduction of sex education classes, saying it will encourage promiscuity, but the spate of abandonment of newborns by desperate young mothers has forced a re-think.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin told state media that the classes were being considered as part of a comprehensive plan to curb the incidents, in which babies have been left to die in toilets and on garbage dumps.
Muhyiddin said after chairing a meeting of the National Social Council that there was a need to provide better a understanding of reproductive health at school level.
"The government... has started a number of pilot projects to tackle such issues and the results are encouraging," he said, according to state news agency Bernama, referring to sex education trials carried out in schools.
Giving birth out of wedlock carries a strong social stigma in Malaysia, a multicultural society embracing Muslim Malays as well as ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.
In 2009 there were 79 cases of baby-dumping but as of mid-September this year there had already been about 70, sparking alarm among authorities and in the community.
Malaysia's first school for pregnant teenagers, an initiative directly aimed at curbing the rising numbers of abandoned babies, opened last month in central Malacca state.
And in May the nation's first "baby hatch" centre to rescue unwanted newborns was introduced in the capital Kuala Lumpur.
The centre, modelled on similar services in Germany, Japan and Pakistan, allows mothers to leave their babies anonymously.
It received its first baby in June, a child who was adopted by a couple selected from a long list of would-be parents.
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