Behind The Taboo : Sex Education In India

This video uploaded in response to Dr.Harsh Vardhan’s( union health minister) “vision” document for Delhi schools, where he said- “So-called sex education should be banned”, tells us exactly how hypocritical our society is when it comes to the crucial and extremely sensitive issue of sex and sex education. There is a strange inhibition, a hesitancy that makes us, Indians, quite uncomfortable when the word is said in public. No one cares what happens behind the closed door, but out there in public, people are going to give you a real hard time when you even try discussing it. If the increasing number of unwanted and teenage pregnancies, increasing cases of AIDS or other STD has become an issue for the society, maybe we should try figuring out the very basic reason behind it.

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The main issue is the lack of knowledge, which comes from the lack of discussion and free talk. If you don’t agree with me, let me put it this way- how do you react when you are watching television with your family and a condom commercial pops up on the screen? You either change the channel swiftly or you start an impromptu conversation on an obvious irrelevant topic, just to avoid the awkwardness of the moment .

This hesitancy towards sex related issues is natural but is it good? Specially, given the easy and vast exposure of youth to such things. Youth today is free spirited, experimental but not totally knowledged about the sexual aspects of life. One small mistake can easily lead to mental depression, humiliation, physical torture and ultimately their downfall. In a situation as this, it becomes absolutely essential for people, specially the youth, to be armed with proper knowledge on this subject. Sex education is if not the best, a very important way of dealing with this issue. It should, therefore not be looked down upon as some filthy piece of information that degrades your cultural or moral values. Sex education should rather be seen as a necessary step to reduce the risk of certain sexual behaviours and equip individuals to make informed decisions about their personal sexual activity. Given the rapid spread of sexual contents through social media, sex education can become an essential tool to curb the unwanted outcomes of half baked sexual knowledge like unplanned pregnancy, abortions, sexually transmitted infections and AIDS.

But sex education isn’t just something that is important for a school going kid, what about a house-wife or a sex-worker or even a youth busy with his new found job? What about people like you and me? How do we spread sexual awareness in a society where even mentioning sex in a conversation would make you seem like a total jerk?

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Well the answer is media!

Yes, the same media that exposes people to all the explicit contents should be the guiding light for them and help them understand why and how sex education is helpful to them. Parents should come forward and actively participate because they are the best teachers for their children. It is also important for the parents to have an approachable attitude, or how can they expect the kids to come up with their issues in times of need? Sex education may also be passed informally in a conversation with parents, a friend or any known and knowledged person. It may also be delivered through self-help authors, magazine advice columnists or sex columnists. Schools should create an informative environment too as the school children are most vulnerable. Women who are illiterate, especially those living in rural areas should also be actively involved. Other critical group at risk constitutes of sex workers. Being in a profession as such, it would be sheer recklessness to not provide them with the important information concerning the above. Health professionals at various levels should themselves be completely equipped and active in educating people.

Keeping in mind the need of the hour, many organizations have come up in front to carry out in spreading sex education through banners, condom promotion, street plays and other such entertaining and informative methods to reach out to the masses. Then why is society still not well educated..??

The reason is the society itself!

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The conservative groups oppose sex education in schools because they believe it is highly detrimental to the kids. Little do they know that the school children are the worst affected and if logically taught, during their vulnerable period, we are most likely to prevent a lot of disgraceful and unexpected results in the future. A recent data on sex education shows an increased incidence of teenage pregnancy and abortions. Isn’t is a sign, an indication which is screaming at us to act?

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Inspite of being a very sensitive topic, sex education is little or never discussed. Hence, the authorities and health professionals should take the initiative. Dr. Harsh Vardhan’s wasn’t the first incident or statement which has created discontent. To generate awareness and inculcate necessary skills among youth and adolescents, a scheme for adolescent education programme was promoted by the national AIDS control organization and the ministry of human resource and development which led to a major controversy in 2007 and had to be scrapped the very next year.

So the first step should be for the leaders to come forward and remove the stigma attached to sex education and consider it to be purely a curricular subject to clarify sex related queries and combat physical, mental and emotional disturbances pertaining to sex by making it easy, informative, clean and making sure that it is being understood and followed.

Sex education and sexual perversions are two entirely different entities and should not be confused as one. Sex education is not a matter of shame as it concerns health and reproductive life, a key component in one’s life.

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Sex education is a preventive education. It is an important and liberating tool to clarify self developed doubts, understand your own anatomy, sensitize yourself to safe sex practices, protect yourself from untoward harmful effects, respect your own body and self, boost morale and be independent and healthy. It is time we give ourselves, our life and our society, the due respect and come out in the open and discuss this grave problem that is becoming extremely prevalent in our country. No more hypocrisy, no more hesitation. It is time we learn to say the word out loud and to bring sex education to our rescue.

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