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Why Are We So Embarrassed To Talk About Sex In India?

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Sex! I am sure a lot of people are already cringing! But it’s OK, it is not your fault either. Anyway, we all love getting nostalgic, right? Let’s recall an iconic line from our childhood days, which goes something like this- बच्चों को परियाँ पंखुड़ी में लपेट कर आसमान से लाती हैं और माँ की कोख में उन्हें छोड़ जाती हैं! (Babies are dropped into a mother’s womb by angels who carry them wrapped in petals) This or at least something similar to this is what we were told as kids when we would ask anyone how a child was born!

Why on earth could they not tell us the truth!? I know that we were not mature enough to understand all, but even today (now that I am an adult!), if I ask my mom the same question, I’d get the same answer! Why don’t they talk to us openly about it? People never realised and some still don’t realise that this habit of “NOT SPEAKING” has slowly turned sex education into a taboo! Gone are the days of Vatsyayana’ Kamasutra where sex was not considered profane.

When children come to know about the actual process of reproduction, they start cringing! All of my friends including myself were disgusted by our origin! Also, we all remember the unfortunate female teacher trying to teach the 8th standard biology classes that would erupt in chuckles.

Ours is one such country where youngsters are expected to lead a life, absolutely unaware of sex or reproductive health. And if something goes wrong, then, instead of admitting their mistake in not educating us, they start shaming the child. Especially girls are slut-shamed in our society, even to the extent of honour killing!

In our country, many brides are expected to have sexual intercourse with a person who is practically a stranger! And the situation becomes worse when a lot of them don’t even know anything about having intercourse! Some even judge their virginity by the status of their hymen. Let me tell you all once again that sexual intercourse is not the only way which leads to the breaking of the hymen!

Women in our country prefer to stay silent or look for a very close female member to share their problems of excessive bleeding, menstrual cramps etc. Girls get into awkward confrontations with male family members in this context. We all remember the awkward moment in a medical store where we used to say “bhaiya woh dena” (brother, please give me that) or taking the safe option of writing “xyz pad” in a piece of paper. Why can’t girls just say it directly?! And what is with the newspaper wrapping and black polythenes?

The worst part is that the medical store guys also chuckle! No wonder as per the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16), 62% of the girls (15-24 yrs) opt for cloth and 16% depend on locally prepared napkins! The report also shows that dropout rates amongst women have a direct connection with menstruation.

In India, people prefer to have unsafe sexual intercourse or unwanted pregnancies but refuse to talk about these things. Girls hesitate to buy a packet of condoms! Why do they expect that a boy would carry it every time? Shouldn’t they also bear some responsibility for their own safety? The situation is no less awkward for the boys, after all, every time they visit a medical shop to buy contraceptives, they are subjected to judgmental looks!

People prefer itchy skin, rashes, scaly lesions, fungal infections etc. but refuse to talk to someone. They wait for it to deteriorate and then see a doctor! They refuse to discuss or find out about genital hygiene in the very first place. Women don’t dry their lingerie in sunlight because they think it’s embarrassing! But you know what is worse? The infections you may contract by not drying them in the sunlight!

People prefer being childless but refuse to go for modern techniques like sperm donation, surrogacy, IVF etc. People don’t want to talk about sexual dysfunctions! They don’t even want to opt for single parenthood because the “civilised society” can’t digest the fact that a single person can also have a child!

People work hard to find appropriate methods of killing a girl child and harassing the mother but never invest that same amount of hard work in finding out that the sex of a child is determined by the sperm and not the egg, and that it is involuntary.

They are ignorant of homosexuality. They never fail to make a person from the LGBT community uncomfortable by continuously staring at them or by whispering about them.

Some people don’t even know the concept of “consent” when it comes to sexual intercourse. Nor are they aware of the legal age of consent (18 yrs in India).

It’s so ironic that in our society, rape is fine but onanism is not! Smoking is fine, but Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) are a taboo! There are many such things which should have been addressed ages ago by our elders and teachers. The society should also have dealt with these things maturely and properly. I mean, come on! We are living in 2019. We can still make the world a better place for future generations. I urge everyone to sensitise their children about these things. This will only do them good and would lead to a healthy society!

Featured image source -https://www.oneworldnews.com/lets-talk-about-sex-its-really-important-for-all-of-us

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  1. Babitaa Wadhwani

    आज जब मेरी उम्र 46 साल है तो मैं समझ पा रही हूँ कि सेक्स एजुकेशन पर हमारे देश मे बात क्यों नहीं की जाती। कुछ देश विकसित है तो कुछ देश विकासशील । साल दर साल हम आगे बढ़ने की बात तो करते रहे पर हम कभी बढ़े नहीं । विकासशील देशों मे औरते ज्यादा प्रताड़ित की जाती है सेक्स के नाम पर । सिखाया जाता है शादी के बाद भी अपने इस हक के लिए चुप रहो पुरुष की इच्छा पर निर्भर रहो। शादी से पहले सेक्स पर बातचीत न के बराबर ।
    मैने पिछले कुछ सालों मे जो हालात झेले है उसी के आधार पर मै अपनी बात लिख रही हूँ कि लड़कियों के आस पास ऐसे लोगों की मौजूदगी बड़ी तादाद मे हो गयी है जो चुपके चुपके उन्हें गलत तरीके से उपयोग कर रहे है। वेश्यावृत्ति के लिए , आधुनिक भाषा मे कहे तो एस्कोर्टिंग । किराये की कोख के लिए और मनोरंजन के लिये । डान्स ग्रुप जिस तेजी से बढ़े है वो चौकाने वाला तथ्य है। डिनर पार्टियों मे सर्व पर्सन की तरह। किसी बच्ची को सेक्स पर बातचीत से रोककर हमने उसे इस बात से भी रोक दिया कि उसका किसी भी स्तर पर इस हेतु जबरदस्ती उपयोग किया जा रहा है तो वो अपने माता पिता व दोस्तों से बोल सके कि उसकी मर्जी के खिलाफ उसे धमका कर गन्दगी के दलदल मे ले जाया जा रहा है। घर से बाहर निकल कर वो पढने व काम करने दूसरे राज्यों मे तो गयी पर क्या वो ईमानदारी से बता पायी कि वो किस तरह प्रताड़ित हो रही है। जहाँ उसने बोला, तो क्या प्रशासन ने ईमानदारी से उसे सुना या सुनकर वही धमका दिया कि जिन्दा रहना है या नहीं ।

    1. Pragya Uike

      अपनी राय हम सबके समक्ष रखने के लिए धन्यवाद Mam! आपने बिल्कुल सहीं कहा कि सेक्स पर बात न करने का एक परिणाम यह भी है की इससे जुड़े अपराध और बढ़ते चले जाते है। शादी के बाद महिलाओं को उनकी इच्छा के विरूद्ध या बिना पूछे उनके पति यह सब करते है। अधिकतर महिलाओं को तो “मैरिटल रेप” के बारे में भी नहीं पता । यह एक बेहद गंभीर विषय है जिस पर हम सबको ध्यान देने की ज़रूरत है।

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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