PETALING JAYA - Student Ruevan Jude Ratmesh, 22, is not at all embarrassed to carry an abstinence pledge card in his wallet.
"It is just a part of my lifestyle. Some people choose to drink, some choose to smoke, but I choose to stay away from any sexual involvement until I get married," he said.
Jude is among many who have taken a pledge with No Apologies, a character-based abstinence programme for youths to make choices about high-risk behaviour such as indulging in sex before marriage.
The programme is run by Focus on the Family Malaysia, a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping families thrive. The Malaysian chapter was set up in 1997.
Jude, a medical student, said he decided to take the pledge at the age of 18 because the programme did not focus solely on the religious points of view.
"It is not just based on religion and morality but also the effects of engaging in risky behaviour and activities at an early stage," he said.
"They explained how it could affect us in terms of health and social behaviour," said Jude.
Another student, Noah Arputharaj, 23, said that he took the pledge because he wanted to keep sexual relations for his future wife.
"The programme taught me a lot of interesting and new ideas about human interaction," said Noah, who took the pledge at the age of 15.
Focus on the Family Malaysia curriculum manager Joshua Liong Ta Shing said the programme was created in 2003 to help young people across gender and race to make wise choices regarding high-risk behaviour.
"Participants are also taught to discern the influence of the media and how it can affect their lifestyle choices," he said.
The organisation has conducted 1,467 workshops for over 70,000 students throughout the country with more than 90 per cent of the youth taking a pledge to remain abstinent until marriage.
"We encourage our pledgers to find someone to sign and witness their pledge.
"We also conduct our own study and keep in touch with all our pledgers through more than seven years and have found that 90 per cent of them have remained committed to their pledges," said Liong.
The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has also developed a new programme called Save Your Dara (Virginity), targeted mainly at 16-year-old males, to curb premarital sex.