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Sex Education Can Prevent Another ‘BoisLockerRoom’

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.

Is The Society At Large Responsible For Misogyny?

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.

Government Plan To Introduce SexEd In Curriculum Is At A Standstill For Two Years

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.

A plan by the Central Government to introduce sex education into the curriculum has still not been executed.

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.

Sex Education Is Important To Create A Safe Space For Conversations On Sexual Health

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.

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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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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