Clinical Sexologist Dr. Martha Tara Lee of Eros Coaching provides 8 facts about sex in Singapore you probably don’t know but might like to know about.
This article first appeared in Soulscape.
Sex is a topic that Singaporeans are not willing to talk about, but is an integral part of our lives. Here are eight facts about sex in Singapore you definitely should know.
While Singapore’s economy had been ranked as the most open in the world (as per Global Enabling Trade Report in 2010, and dropped to a still impressive 2nd place in 2014), the same openness cannot be said when it comes to all things related to sex in Singapore.
Here are eight things about sex in Singapore that you might not know about:
- Low birth rate: According to the World Bank as of 2013, with a population of 5.3 million, Singapore is already well-known for her low fertility rate and laws against pornography. Although 33,793 Singaporean babies were born during her Golden Jubilee in 2015—the highest number in 13 years—Singapore still struggles with a fertility rate below 1.4, way below the replacement rate of 2.1 to maintain population levels.
- Less heterosexual marriages: According to a report in June by our Department of Statistics, 28,322 couples wed the previous year, slightly down from a five-decade high of 28,407. There were more breakups—7,522 divorces and annulments, which is a 2.9 per cent rise from 2014 and the third highest annual figure on record. Lawyers say that between a third and half of the divorces they handle involve a cheating spouse.
- Women in Singapore are more sexual: In a 2013 survey conducted by pharmaceutical company Menarini, close to 80 per cent of women aged 18 to 45 would like to have more sex, compared to 69 per cent of their counterparts in Asia-Pacific. It also revealed they are more likely to bring up sexual needs and problems, with a third willing to speak up if something were amiss, less than 25 per cent of men would do the same. These women were primarily worried about hurting their partner’s feelings were they to point out the problem.
- Abstinence-based Sexuality Education: With Singapore being the world’s most expensive city to live in—for the third year running by the Economist Intelligence Unit—more Singaporeans report delaying their marriage so that they can build their careers to earn more money first. Yet, the Ministry of Education continues with their stance that ‘abstinence before marriage is the best course of action for teenagers’. So, what happens to the ‘good girls and boys’ who actually listened to their parents and teachers to wait until marriage to have sex? They will find themselves disconnecting from their sexuality, not knowing how to have sex, experience difficulties in consummating their marriage, and of course, not enjoying sex.
- Kids watching online porn: Under the Undesirable Publications Act, section 292 of the Penal Code of Singapore, and sections 29 and 30 of the Films Act, it is illegal to keep, distribute or sell pornographic materials. Of course, that leaves online porn. In June, Touch Cyber Wellness surveyed and released the finding that nine in every 10 teenage boys have watched or read sexually explicit materials within the past year
- Sexualised games in university orientation camps: In July, news broke that sexualised games were played at freshmen orientation camps at National University of Singapore, again. This tradition outraged the public, and sponsors pulled out of the event. Such exaggerated shows of bravado about sex might seem ‘adult’ but in reality, it is an overcompensation of their own ignorance and discomfort around sex.
- Homosexuality remains illegal: In Section 377A of the Penal Code, ‘any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years’. Started in 2009, Pink Dot SG is an annual, non-profit, free-for-all event in support of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Singapore. There have been counter-campaigns by religious groups, threats of violence against the community, and this year, the government said it would ‘take steps to make it clear that foreign entities should not fund, support or influence’ events.
- Surprise + 1: In seven years of practice, I have publicly mentioned that vaginismus has remained the top reason couples seek out my coaching services on numerous occasions. This is a condition that happens when a woman’s vagina shuts down, making penetration of any kind difficult or impossible. As such, many women with primary vaginismus find themselves unable to consummate their marriage, enjoy penetrative sex, or procreate. Although it has been reported that this affects one in 10 women globally, I receive a few enquiries every week, and even dubbed vaginismus as an ‘epidemic’, having worked directly with more than 400 couples. A couple’s baby-making plus one plan may be a distant impossibility, unless the government sits up and acknowledges how the lack of comprehensive sexuality education is causing ripple effects, and irreparable cascading damage to the lives of the people.
In conclusion, while statistics can be elastic—as in they are only as accurate as the way the study was conducted and then presented—the above should give us a snapshot of the sex landscape of Singapore. Singaporeans are left to their own devices when it comes to sex. For all the government incentives and campaigns for raising the birth rate, it begs the question: did anybody ever ask what happens to the people who did not have any sex education, and now find themselves not knowing how to have sex or overcome them?References:No money, no getting married: many delaying to build careers first
About Dr. Martha Tara Lee
Surrounded by friends who were sexually inhibited and struck by dire lack of positive conversations around sex and sexuality in Singapore, Dr. Martha Tara Lee decided to take it upon herself to right this societal injustice in 2007. She set out to make a positive difference in embarking on her doctorate in human sexuality, then launching Eros Coaching in 2009. Today, she remains dedicated to working with individuals and couples who wish to lead self-actualised and pleasure-filled lives.
She also holds certificates in counselling, coaching and sex therapy, and is currently pursuing her fourth degree – a Masters in Counselling. In practice for more than seven years, she is the only certified sexuality educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) in Singapore.
Often cited in the local media, Dr. Lee is the appointed sex expert for Men’s Health Singapore, and Men’s Health Malaysia. She was recognised as one of ‘Top 50 Inspiring Women Under 40′ by Her World in July 2010, and one of ‘Top 100 Inspiring Women’ by CozyCot in March 2011. She is the host of weekly radio show Eros Evolution on the OMTimes Radio Network. She has published two books: Love, Sex and Everything In-Between, and Orgasmic Yoga.
Martha works with individuals and couples in private coaching sessions, and conducts her own workshops. She takes prides in making sure all her workshops are also fun, educational, and sex-positive. This comes easily to her because even though she is extremely dedicated and serious about her work, she fundamentally believes that sex is meant to be fun, wonderful, amazing and sacred. As such, this serious light-heartedness has shone through again and again. For her full profile, click here. Email her here.