Indonesian sex therapist starts new podcast to tackle myths about sex

Zoya Amirin
Photo via AP.

This is great. Today Zoya Amirin, the only woman certified as a sex therapist in Indonesia, is launching a weekly podcast, called “In Bed with Zoya,” to debunk common myths about sex and contraception.

“People here really believe in myths … that’s my biggest challenge,” said Amirin, adding she wants to make her show as cool as possible so people will tune in without feeling they’re being talked down to.

“It’s time to embrace our sexuality in a healthy way,” she said, “and to be mature in our understanding.”

Nearly 40% of Indonesian teenagers have had sex and almost half of them do not use contraception with new partners. And while the folklore about gecko saliva curing AIDS may be unique to Indonesia, the lack of accurate information about sex and contraception definitely isn’t.

According to a new study released earlier this week for World Contraception Day, myths about safe sex abound among young people around the world. The survey, conducted by Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals and supported by various international NGOs, questioned more than 6,000 young people from 26 countries. It found a rise in unprotected sex in several countries, including the U.S., France, and Britain.

“No matter where you are in the world, barriers exist which prevent teenagers from receiving trustworthy information about sex and contraception, which is probably why myths and misconceptions remain so widespread even today,” a member of the WCD task force, Denise Keller, said in a statement with the results of the study.

Zoya Amirin is sure to face some resistance to her work. Indonesia is a moderate Muslim country, but there’s a strong taboo against talking publicly about sex and a hard-liner fringe has become more vocal in recent years. (Hmm, sounds familiar…) Conservatives freaked out over a pop star’s leaked sex tape and the Governor of Jakarta recently responded to the “gang-rape of two young women on a public minibus by blaming the victim.” (Again, sound familiar?)

But clearly teens–and adults–everywhere are eager for credible, accessible information about sex. Kudos to Amirin for offering that to her country.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

Read more about Maya

Join the Conversation