The other day, my friend and I went out for a movie. We sat for lunch and in between all the gossip, we somehow stumbled onto the topic of sex, and realised that we knew very little about it. What is worse is that we felt ashamed for even talking about it. That’s how Indian brains have been hard-wired from time immemorial. Sex is such a frowned upon word. It’s high time that that mindset changes.
In a country like India, where arranged marriages still exist and boy-girl friendships are seen as taboo, it should come as no surprise that sex education is off-limits. Because of this, many young adults are deprived of the proper facts about their bodies and end up in undesirable places.
Sex education implies learning more about human development, sexual behaviour, and sexual health. Sex is a natural part of any allosexual person’s life (a person who experiences sexual attraction towards any gender), and, eventually, they are going to want and have sex. There, I said it. In countries like the UK and the USA, people are much more open about this, and parents willingly give their children “the talk” at a young age. In India, on the other hand, parents are so embarrassed to even say the word, that children grow up thinking that sex is frightful and nasty.
Curiosity is one of the main reasons behind an active interest among the youth to “watch porn”. Let’s not kid ourselves, every single one of us at some point would have opened an adult website just to see what people actually do during sex. It’s natural to have questions.
A ban on sex education will only increase mindless porn viewership. Students want to know the what, how, and why of sex. If they were given the proper information in schools in the first place, maybe we’d have fewer porn addicts.
Sex education also teaches students about various dangerous STDs like AIDS and syphilis. STDs are on the rise, mainly in rural India, like the villages of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, because children are ill-informed of the side effects of unsafe sex. One of these side effects is rape culture. Just think: If sex education was allowed in schools, could rape have been prevented? Maybe not entirely, but many rapes could have been, and India would not be categorised as a “rape country”.
India’s current population is 1.3 billion people, which means we are pretty familiar with the concept of reproduction, yet the word “sex” makes people jittery and nervous. In any biology textbook these days, there is always a chapter on reproduction, with sufficient pictures on the respective reproductive organs, and the fertilisation of the egg with the sperm to form the zygote. But it ends there. And the main question on every student’s mind is, “HOW did the sperm come in contact with the egg?”
Why does the school syllabus not cover one of the most important topics on this subject? Why do people shy away from it? One answer: It brings shame upon those who dare to speak about it. Let me give you an example of an incident that happened in my biology class long ago. Our teacher had reached that page in the textbook which talked about the mammary glands (breasts) and instead of being mature about it, she skipped that page. Just a mere mention of a concept connected to the study of the female human body threw her off, and she flushed in embarrassment. This feeling of embarrassment is what gets passed down from generation to generation and ultimately results in a vicious cycle of awkwardness and unease. Removing the stigma off of sex education is a step forward in the right direction.
The Indian Government should take more forceful action to see to it that children are provided sex education. But we can’t entirely blame the Indian Government for the lack of education on the subject. In 2007, a sex education curriculum was promoted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, but was deeply opposed by many states, resulting in controversy. Many state governments argued that sex education would tarnish a child’s pure upbringing and encourage promiscuity and prostitution among the youth. As a result, many states like Gujarat, Kerala and Goa banned sex education in schools.
Ellen DeGeneres came out about her sexuality in her sitcom which aired on April 30, 1997. Reportedly, there were many protests by certain groups of people to drop the episode and not air it on television. That particular episode garnered much publicity nonetheless. 21 years later, it’s one of the best decisions she’s ever made. She got the life she wanted.
The reason I bring this up is because there are so many kids in India who are made to feel insecure about their sexual orientation and are just plain scared to admit it, lest they be shunned from society. Instead, if they are provided with the proper guidance and support, they would be in a much happier place. Teen suicides are also attributed to mistaken sexualities. Issues like these bring to light the dire need for sex education in schools.
“The purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one,” said Malcolm Forbes, the publisher of Forbes magazine.
Sex education should be made mandatory, not just for children but also for adults. The adults should be aware of the sex education curriculum and realise that depriving their child of it is only going to make matters worse. Let’s move into a future where it is okay to talk about sex with your mother or your grandfather. Let’s pave the way for a new India.