Sex. How did you read it? Did you cringe and raise your eyebrows or did you actually manage to keep a straight face? A country with a population of over 1.3 billion balks at the word ‘sex’. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Sex education is one of the most widely-debated topics across the world. And in a country like ours, where talking about sex is a taboo, it has created a lot of stir and anxiety amongst citizens. Many have outrightly rejected the idea while others have been pushing towards its inclusion.
The first question is, why now? We have survived all these years without sex education. So, why start now? Let’s be honest about this. Were there so many cases of STDs, unwanted teen pregnancies, sexual violence or abuse cases back in the day? Youngsters now, especially girls are more exposed to the outside world. In a survey (2002) conducted by The Week magazine about unmarried young Indians, 69% of men admitted that they had pre-marital sex as compared to 38% of women. In the 16-19 age group 45% had pre-marital sex, and at the same time, 27% were 15 years or below. We can turn a blind eye to it, but the problem isn’t going away anytime soon.
Sex education closely addresses the problem of child abuse. Children are not only exploited outside their homes but also their own friends, relatives and acquaintances often happen to be the culprits. Maintaining silence on instances of child sexual abuse doesn’t resolve the issue. Recovering and Healing from Incest (RAHI), a Delhi-based foundation that offers support to victims of sexual exploitation, states that out of 1000 higher and upper-middle class college students interviewed, 76% had been physically abused during childhood, 31% were assaulted by persons familiar to their family and 40% by relatives and 50% before the age of 12. There is a lack of knowledge in this aspect. This confidentiality has to be stopped for the sake of safety and protection of children.
Dr Balaji, an advisor at the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), says, “Too many people think that neither sex education nor access to information about AIDS is compatible with their notion of Indian culture.” Our culture has taught us so many valuable lessons, but it has its shortcomings as well. With changing times, we have to change our notions too. Well, our culture doesn’t encourage pre-marital sex, but that isn’t stopping anyone from exploring their desires or is it?
It’s surprising to see that people are still unable to grasp the concept. Sex education doesn’t encourage minors to have sex before they are ready, it does the opposite. Saying sex education encourages minors to have sex is like saying that watching the news will make people want to commit a crime. It doesn’t. Watching the news is important so that you can be aware of what is going on and protect yourself. While researching about this topic, I came across a comment that said, “The government is not your parent. It’s the parent’s responsibility to raise children well”.
Okay, so the next time a girl is raped, will we ask the government to sit back and say that it was the parent’s responsibility, so let them be punished?. That ’s going to make everything right, isn’t it?
Let’s face the facts. Ignorance is not always bliss. However hard we try to control a teen’s exposure towards sex, they will find other ways to discover it. Their curiosity can lead them to pornographic sites or experimentation and can allow negative peer influence to take over. Would it not be better to educate adolescents about these matters in an environment that encourages them to raise questions and clarify their doubts? How can creating such an awareness be treated as obscene?
It’s high time sex education is introduced in schools and colleges. But it cannot be a typical educational practice. It must include all psychological, physiological, and social aspects and be taught throughout a student’s school and college life. Effective sex education and open communication can bring about a lot of change. It’s our duty as a society to educate the next generation. Currently, we are failing.