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Lack of sex education hurts female labor migrants

One is the pre-departure orientation seminar (PDOS) required by the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency. As required by law, an HIV 101 module is already integrated in the PDOS; a reproductive health segment can be easily tucked on. (READ: INFOGRAPHIC: How is HIV transmitted?)

Direct hires can be informed at the OFW desks in the airports where their employment documents are screened. Recruitment agencies where a lot of people spend a lot of time lining up may also be another channel.

To be clear, I am not talking about a medical brochure with illustrations of a uterus. Neither do I envision something pornographic or bordering on salacious. I do envision a graphic romance novel written as a friendly non-judgmental narrative and presented in the language that the migrant worker is most familiar with.

I imagine it to be a story framed around the complicated realities of falling in love and managing relationships as a female migrant worker. I expect it to be entertaining as well as educational. (READ: Do condoms and sex ed promote sex?)

Just like any other bit of information that needs to be learned, social media can be utilized to amplify this information in channels that OFWs can access even while overseas.

In more liberal host countries like Denmark, there could be informal sessions and workshops on relationship and cultural norms similar to those dating workshops given to refugee men in Norway.

Not promiscuous just ignorant

Clearly, something must be done to address the problem.

Dr Felding seemed pensive and wistful when she talked to me about the Filipino au pairs who came to her clinic.

Her clinical experience gave her the perspective of two different worlds: one where Danish women are empowered to make decisions about their bodies and another where Filipino women are clueless and left to suffer the consequences. (READ: 'I am a nun but I am pro-RH law' – Sr Mary John Mananzan)

In the case of the latter, getting pregnant had little to do with promiscuity but everything had to do with ignorance.

"I've always said that when that plane from Manila comes in, the au pairs should already have a pill in their mouth," Dr Felding said.

Sadly, a pill in your mouth or a condom in your bag won't be of much help unless you have the information on how to use it. – Rappler.com

Reporting for this piece was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in Washington, D.C.