Came across an interesting article on the need of sex education in India. Sex education is a highly controversial topic as for some it is seen as offensive to Indian values, and concerns that it might lead to risky sexual behaviour and promiscuity. What its detractors do not understand is that it is quite the opposite. UNESCO defines sexuality education as one that “provides opportunities to… build decision-making, communication and risk reduction skills about many aspects of sexuality…. encompasses the full range of information, skills and values to enable young people to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights and to make decisions about their health and sexuality”.
Wonder why those who oppose it do not see the situation on the ground with rape, teenage pregnancies and sexual abuse on the rise in a alarming manner.
Adolescents need to be taught age appropriate sexual behaviour or else they will be unable to reign in the raging hormones. If not in homes, then the only alternative is in schools. Some feel erroneously that if there is sexual education everyone will only talk of sex. But that is not true. Sexual education is about knowing your body and its changes, about understanding consent, about learning to interact with the opposite sex.
One cannot be prudish about this.
A very pertinent spoof was made on what would sex education look like in our patriarchal society.
It is so true. We are even afraid of mouthing words like sex!
At project why we have regular workshops on adolescent issues. We feel these are an intrinsic part of growing u in today’s world where teenagers and even tweens have access to unrestricted internet via the smart phone. Teaching age appropriate behaviour is an absolute must. Gender equality has to be taught albeit in our patriarchal society.
Sex education has several benefits:
1. It can help students understand that attraction to the opposite sex is a biological phenomenon.
2. It can do away with the taboo and stigma surrounding sex.
3. It can educate children on health issues related to sex and lower the rates of teenage pregnancy.
4. It can prevent gender and sex related injuries and violence.
5. It can enhance the psychological, sexual and reproductive health of students.
But the Government is even weary of using the word ‘sex’ in any programme on adolescent issues. Some feel it is against vedic values, and a top cop even said it would increase the number of rapes.
Sex education is taken seriously in many countries.
In Holland ‘Lentekriebels’, a government subsidised programme for children aged between four and twelve, is carried out every year. Under this programme, children are taught about relationships, sexuality, the act of cuddling, friendship and also about new born babies.
In Denmark children are made aware of what sex is in a very simple and clinical way. They even have picture books for little children to understand the process of having safe sex. The process is explained factually through cartoon-like graphics.
Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE)is much more than sex education: It covers the physical, biological, psychological and social aspects of a person’s being and sexuality. It covers issues like bodily changes and differences, and relationships with other youngsters, teachers, and society at large, to discussing important social issues like bullying, abuse, infections, and breakups. And yes, it also provides information about sex along with the importance of consent and safety, all in age and stage appropriate terms.
Efforts are being made by the Government but civil society has to back it up. 2017, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the Saathiya resource kit for young people. It is a progressive approach and covers six important adolexent issue: nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, non-communicable diseases, substance misuse, injuries and violence (including gender based violence) and mental health. However it relies on peer educators and an app and thus cannot reach every adolescent.
CSE is essential to help a child navigate through puberty to adulthood, more so in a country where questions are met with silence or raised eyebrows.