“Wait. So, my vagina has two holes!?”
While this may sound like something an ignorant or illiterate person would say, it is, unfortunately, the harsh reality for most of the Indian youth. I remember my friends calling me up to ask if they can get STDs from blowjobs or whether it’s true that males also go through menopause. It is no surprise that the Indian youth is sexually active, but the problem is the stigma that surrounds this sexual activity.
From hunting for shady hotel rooms, borrowing friends’ apartments, and just waiting for their parents to leave town for a weekend, to just having sex in a car parked at a desolate location, Indian teens are aware of it all. However, what they often aren’t aware of, is what exactly happens to their body, and the dangers they expose it to when they choose to become sexually active. So, they take to Reddit, or Yahoo, or Google, or whatever stranger they can find to explain to them why their body may be responding in a particular way just to avoid awkward conversations and judgemental doctors.
I know of incidents where pharmacies refused to sell a friend morning-after pills since “she shouldn’t be having sex” because he’d rather she risks getting pregnant than accept that she has sexual needs. We owe such cases to the lack of sexual education and awareness, and the urgent need to normalise sexual behaviour.
We started Pratisandhi, an initiative to provide the youth with a safe space in a society that tends to pander to behaviour according to their own morals. We conduct workshops to increase sexual health especially among the lower strata of society, as well as organise drives to make sanitary napkins available to women.
We believe that it is important for adolescents to be able to question the beliefs they are led to believe as children. We want to create a difference through the means of educating our youth in a manner through which they can become self-aware individuals who can make smarter decisions. Let’s be honest, being ignorant about sexual education and sex, in general, will have more negative implications on society and lead to a misguided future generation. Hiding behind fake abstinence to avoid the truth of sex is a notion that is not just ridiculous but also dangerous for those who decide not to practice it. Everyone has the right to have access to information free from judgement.
Instead of protecting our children from knowledge, how about we give them knowledge about protection?