This three-letter word causes an uproar in a country of 1.3 billion people. A country where the population increases rapidly daily, people are ashamed and don’t believe in talking about sex, moreover, safe sex.
Isn’t it ironic? On the one hand, the same crowd that dances their hearts out, whistles and celebrates sexy item songs in movies, similarly, on the other hand, they roll their eyes and ask you to nip it in the bud when talking about sexuality. Even the most educated, well-read individuals are sensitive discussing sex education and attach the concept of sex being a taboo.
It is a natural consequence of Indian sex education in schools. Sexual education, or as we like to term it ‘Family Life Education’ is a concept that is still not widely accepted as an essential part of the curriculum. Despite various propagandas and policies taken by the government, it is continuously regarded as unimportant and rejected in multiple states.
Sex education is defined as the curriculums offering data on sexuality and contraception. It also encompasses the gender identity, consent and awareness about sexual abuse. Sex education also aims to develop knowledge about sexual health.
It is primarily believed that talking about sexuality, sexual wellbeing, and its awareness may not educate but rather corrupt young adolescents. On the contrary, what we as a population don’t understand is that if left ignorant about their bodies, they are the perfect target audience for corruption.
When they are not given the appropriate information, these youngsters with their curious minds will dive into the depths of the internet available to them at their fingertips. There are very little awareness and knowledge available to our youngsters about safe sexual encounters and the consequences of having unprotected sexual relations with multiple partners.
Sex Education’ is designed in a way to enlighten child about the birth processes. As we know, in reality, most sex education occurs outside the classroom. It is also with the acknowledgement of the growing ‘child sexual abuse’, sex education is thereby given importance in bits and pieces.
The situation under which the students are socialized is heterosexual in nature. It is often considered that these educative values would necessarily lead to identity development and affect behavioural patterns. It is viewed that too much ‘openness’ towards simply knowing about same-sex relationships, especially when these relationships are presented positively, can make the child more likely or convert to become ‘homosexual’. School is not ideally considered to be a place where much importance should be given to the idea of homosexuality.
Children are curious about sex and sexuality as there is always a sense of ‘hush-hush’ around such topics. They want to know about sexuality, but the grown-ups tell them it isn’t something they should concern themselves with at this age.
From the late 1980s in India, growing alertness about the AIDS epidemic made it increasingly legitimate to talk of sex outside the territory of law, demography and medicine and not only as violence against women or in terms of population control. Autonomous women’s groups from the late 1970s started off with the discussion on sexuality, including queer sexuality. But however, AIDS awareness helped hugely to produce a critical understanding of the common public.
In 2005, Central Board Secondary Education (CBSE) issued a circular, introducing a program called, ‘The Adolescence Reproductive and Sexual Health Education’ (ASRH project). The central government released it in 2006. Though it was incorporated by few states, however, they adopted the plan with variations according to what they considered to be necessary.
The program was not implemented and was banned by 12 Indian state governments as the program’s content was considered to be ‘inappropriate’. There has been a constant claim that the incorporation of sex education will increase ‘risky-behaviour’ amongst adolescents and young students.
With the constant taboo and shame around sex, many people are even scared to go buy contraceptives, and this would lead to possibilities of them having the danger of them being infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STDs). It could also lead to negligence of such STDs as the person wouldn’t be aware of the symptoms of the STD. This becomes more dangerous as it can be contagious for anyone having sexual relations with them.
The more you try to push this topic away, the worse it would try to affect the kids studying in school. Educating young adolescents about sex, consent, contraception, sexuality etc. (if taught right) can be a big step in the right direction. It not only reduces sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies, but it would also reduce the taboo around sex and adolescents would learn about things like consent which would in-turn reduce cases of sexual abuse and harassment.
The Indian population has a long way to go, but let’s take baby steps towards liberation and talk about sex?