By Neha Mayuri:
“Does sperm donation lead to infertility? Is it possible to get pregnant the first time you have sex?” A never ending list of unanswered questions goes on and on ceaselessly! These and several other questions aren’t just mundane queries, they are curiosities every youth deserves an answer to, through sex education!
“It can be awkward and clunky. A lot uncomfortable. May be even dreadful!” These and other similar thoughts revolve in the mind of parents when they imagine talking to their children about sex! But in reality- refusing to talk about it does more harm than good! When parents or guardians decide to talk about sex to their children, they need to understand the bigger picture. Talking about sex does not mean that one should make it a taboo, yes it’s about warning the youth about dangers of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections but it’s also about discussing the untouched subjects such as healthy relationships, self-worth, and knowing about one’s body!
Clearly, sex education is not a license to be sexually active. But, the silence around sexuality and the lack of sex education leads young people to seek information about their bodies and the sexual act from misinformed sources such as: peers, the media, badly written biology books and pornography! All one has to do is turn on television, surf the net, and one can become an easy spectator to sexual images and sexually themed media, unknowingly! When children are exposed to sexual imagery and language in their environment constantly through movies, society and other factors, it becomes naturally inevitable for them to be curious! Hence, the answers they receive about sexuality should clarify their doubts and not confuse them.
The phrase “Just Say No to Sex” does nothing except fuelling the fire! When you tell the young brigade not to do something without explaining why, they are going to do it anyway! This is basic human nature! It is far more justified, appropriate and sensible to inform them about sexuality and sex education so that they make judicious choices! It makes no sense leaving them in the dark with an ambiguous phrase “Just Say No”!
In 2009, a parliamentary committee rejected petitions on sex education in Indian schools, saying it is against “social and cultural ethos” of India!Â Many are intensely worried that providing too much information to youth on sex will encourage them to have sex! However, a study conducted back in 1993 by The World Health Organization of 35 sex education programs from around the world stated that there was no evidence that programs which were comprehensive when it came to sex education encouraged kids to be sexually active; it did not encourage them to have sex at an early age. It also stated that programs that taught abstinence only were less effective than the comprehensive sex education programs!
Furthermore, the WHO published a review of 1050 scientific articles on sex education programs. Researchers found “no support for the contention that sex education encourages sexual experimentation or increased activity. If any effect is observed, almost without exception, it is in the direction of postponed initiation of sexual intercourse and/or effective use of contraception.” Failure to provide appropriate and timely information “misses the opportunity of reducing the unwanted outcomes of unintended pregnancy and transmission of STDs, and is therefore, in the disservice of our youth,” This report was commissioned by the Youth and General Public Unit, Office of Intervention and Development and Support, Global Programme on AIDS and the WHO.
Let’s talk about ancient India — don’t we easily recall “sex was never a taboo subject”! India created the Kama Sutra around 400 BC, ancient Indian temples such as Khajuraho and Vedic scriptures have discussed and explored sexuality in detail!
Deeming sex education unnecessary is downright dangerous and redundant! India is a democracy and each one has sexual rights. Yes, sexual rights! The current sex education classes in school are plainly focused on the biological aspects of sex which is simply superficial.
Sexuality is broader than sexual activity! It includes “all things” that defines us as girls, boys, men, and women. Shaped by culture, history, values, education as well as experience — our sexuality influences our views of individuality and everything in between! Sex education not only teaches someone about sexual intimacy but it also enlightens them about their reproductive systems, sexually transmitted diseases, birth control and so on! After all, we do have a right to know our body, isn’t it? Sex education broadens our horizons to gender identity, gender role, body images, sexual expression and so on! It needs to be integrated into the lives of the youth in a very mature way by parents, teachers, and society, as they grow up.
Then, why is there a constant denial of right to knowledge about our own bodies? Why are we as a society, so afraid to talk about sex? Silencing not only leads to ignorance but also leads to sexism, misogyny, gender discrimination, chauvinism, patriarchal attitudes, sexual harassments, sexual assaults, and rape culture! Then, why is there a constant silencing of valuable information about sex and sexuality?