In February 2017, the Union Health Ministry released a progressive and much-welcome pamphlet on reproductive health. Called ‘Sathiyaa’, this manual would be distributed to over a lakh educators. They would then engage with India’s young adults, talking to them about sex, sexuality, gender-based behaviour and issues of reproductive health.
This isn’t the first radical move made by India’s Health Ministry. Back in 2014, the Ministry of Family Welfare launched Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) which didn’t just cover well-being but also zoomed in on topics like sexual diseases and even sexual violence. Like ‘Sathiyaa’, this program worked with village health clinics, making sensitive information accessible.
Despite all these efforts, politics has prevented any real trickle-down effect. Political leaders continue to dilute or remove ‘taboo’ issues covered in awareness programs or suppress these programmes altogether.
Considering India is battling with AIDS (made worse by the fact that we criminalise homosexuality), shouldn’t we be more open-minded about sex education?