TW: Sexual harassment.
‘BoisLockerRoom’, a private Instagram group run by a bunch of 14-15 year old boys from the elite schools of Delhi NCR, seems to have taken the entire nation by a storm. These boys not only exchanged obscene images of underage girls but also passed sexually explicit and offensive comments. They discussed plans to rape these girls and threatened to ‘kill’ them and circulate their morphed indecent images if they tried to challenge them.
While TV debates and popular opinion seemed to have taken a stand against the parents of these boys including asking questions like, “What sort of upbringing did their parents give them?” I believe that the onus cannot be put on the parents alone. I mean, which parent goes on to teach their boy to talk about raping girls and use filthy language against them?
Not to say that the problem of patriarchy and misogyny isn’t deeply embedded in the four walls of our homes. But my point is that the root cause behind these sordid event of things is largely owing to our social and educational failures.
Our celebrated ‘Indian culture’ that is famous for producing the global handbook of eroticism, the Kamasutra, seems to be quite brandished and hypocritical about starting sex education in our classrooms. It is deemed to be against the values of our culture and feared to give birth to a risky sexual behavior in the minds of young children.
So, the question that arises is, that at what point did the lack of it pave way for these promiscuous locker room conversations? One would think that a country that stands as the most unsafe country in the world for women because of the high risk of sexual violence perpetrated upon them may not really need discussions and debates around whether or not to create awareness about sexual health, gender equality and the idea of consent.
Governments through the course of time have made a consistent effort, like in 2007, when the central government launched an Adolescence Education Program in schools in collaboration with NCERT, UN agencies and NACO. But nearly 13 states unanimously decided to put a ban on it as they believed it was against the Indian value system.
In fact, recently in 2018, the present government under its Ayushman Bharat Scheme initiated a school health program which categorically included sex education but its almost two years down the line and nothing firm stands on the ground.
The two fundamental questions that lay before us then are – What is Sex Education? Why is it important to have Sex Education in our classrooms? Sex education is a program that educates individuals not just about sex but also about sexuality, sexual health and sexual rights. It makes individuals more conscious about not just their own bodies but also that of other genders.
As adolescents we all undergo certain biological and physiological changes. The lack of information and misinformation which is freely available over the internet makes individuals curious and they end up looking at random and pornographic websites to draw a greater understanding of sex and their bodies. Perhaps, like in the case of ‘#BoisLockerRoom’, it may leave them into believing that the rampant objectification and abuse of women on these sites is in fact justified and they shall never be reprimanded or held accountable for it.
However, an Adolescent Sex Education class can provide the support system where children can openly ask their doubts and queries and perhaps even unlearn through this medium the unbridled misogyny that they are conditioned to believe in by learning to respect each other’s boundaries, opinions and bodies.
Its critical to imply here that what often holds back our society in initiating Sex Ed is the perception that it is a discourse on the act of sex alone. But a good Sex education class will unequivocally discuss things like consent, emotionally connect, safe sex practices, taboos etc. thereby sensitizing children in the significance of consent and respect at a very young age.
Needless to say, that for all this to be implemented successfully, schools along with the parents need to come together in agreement and this can only be achieved if they too are trained and sensitized about the immediate need for such classes.