Nadine Dorries Has Sex Education Bill Seeking Abstinence Lessons Withdrawn

Nadine Dorries' Sex Abstinence Bill Withdrawn

Nadine Dorries' controversial bill which sought to give abstinence lessons to girls only has been withdrawn for debate in the Commons following protests outside Westminster, leaving the future of the proposals unclear.

The Tory MP's Private Members' Bill (PMBs) proposed providing education which "must include information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity" to females aged 13 to 16 years old.

The bill, which was due to be heard in the House of Commons on Friday, attracted protesters outside Westminster who criticised the proposal. Parents and Carers for Sex Relationships Education (P4SRE), Slut Means Speak Up, Feminist Fightback and Queers Against the Cuts were just a few of the groups making their stand on Friday.

"Abstinence education does not work. Not only is this bill misguided, it focuses only on girls and negates and overlooks the important role of boys and young men in forming safe, fulfilling and consensual sexual relationships."

The bill was dropped from the order of business list for parliament on Friday, but Dorries' office insisted the bill had not been withdrawn permanently.

"As the bill was so low down on the order paper, Nadine decided not to have hundreds of copies of the bill printed to save costs."

Dorries herself refused to comment, hanging up the phone when Huffington Post UK attempted to contact her.

A spokesperson for the Commons' information office confirmed the bill had been withdrawn from the list.

"Whether she chooses to re-list it is up to her."

Either way, the bill is not likely to be debated in the near future as the HoC office added there may not be any more opportunities for PMBs this session.

Charlotte Vere, founder of think tank Women On told HuffPost: "Whatever the reason for the bill being taken off the order paper, it is fantastic that it's not getting a chance to be debated.

It is fundamentally wrong. It is vital to point out that this is a worrying trend of putting too much of the responsibility on women and girls to abstain from sex."

In May 2011, the bill was voted through its first stage but only scrapped a majority of 67 to 61 votes.

"I believe that the answer to ending our constant struggle with the incredibly high rate of teenage sexual activity and underage pregnancies lies in teaching our girls and boys about the option of abstinence—the ability to just say no as part of their compulsory sex education at school," the bill reads.

The MP for Mid Bedfordshire's abstinence ideas have continued to provoke huge outrage among various groups and MPs.

Labour MP for Rhondda Chris Bryant branded her bill "the daftest piece of legislation I have seen brought forward".

But it is not the only belief the MP holds which has sparked controversy; in May last year, Dorries also announced teaching girls to say no to sex would stop abuse.

"If a stronger 'just say no' message was given to children, there might be an impact on sex abuse," she said. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood called her remarks "disturbing".

Dorries' insistence to put the responsibility of saying no to sex solely on girls is outdated and will not reduce the "high rates" of sexual activity and underage pregnancies she refers to.

A campaign by teenager Shereece Marcantonio shows sex education does not have to be stuck in the past and irrelevant to students. Marcantonio's "Let's Talk About Sex" aims to teach young people in through peer-on-peer education, rather than the "awkward" sessions with their usual teacher.

"If we can educate kids in a relaxed and engaging way, we can help avoid unwanted pregnancies and help teenagers cope with their first sexual experiences safely."


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