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Relevance of Sex Education in Today's India

Relevance of Sex Education in Todays India

It all started when i was 13/14 years old. The red blots on my frock....My menstrual cycle! It all started during my summer vacations at my grandparents village. On one hot summery day, I felt some sticky red fluid coming out of my inner parts. With my extensive reading, mentally i was quite ahead of my biological age, though at that first sight of blood spots, outburst of mix feelings of confusion , anxiety, unknown fear, stress suddenly surrendered me, because until then, my mother or my school never taught me to face this trauma. Yess it was a trauma for me at that phase. My cousin sister who happens to be my good friend as well was few years elder to me, later explained me how to use cloth or pad and how to wash it away or dispose it.

But in those early days, being a shy girl i could not open myself even to my cousin about those occasional blots on my clothes. I was shocked and traumatized with this musibat zanzat! yess these were the words which i would utter to myself and would often envy boys for their carefree life without menstruation. I was into sports & this very feeling of discomfort would make me heavily stressed and restless with the overall experience i was going through. It took few years then after to fathom out strength and beauty of my femininity .

Over the course of time, i realize , my mother too was stressed that her daughter was due to enter a new phase of life & that she is getting young. Also i could see her abrupt behavioral change towards me as she was probably burdened with the forth coming responsibility of a mother of a young girl. Because she too was never been taught by her mother to deal with this phase.

Well, almost after a year with few months of irregular discharges, my menstrual cycle started regularly. I was so upset to have this obstacle in my peaceful sporty life. Consuming pills to postpone periods during sports events, or picnics, or family functions, premenstrual pains, anxieties, discomfort gradually became part of life. Like every other normal girl, growing up with monthly cycles was complex and difficult for me. Boys attention would make me nervous and conscious though i would carry a tomboyish and carefree attitude. In early days of adolescent age, i timidly ignored certain experiences of eve teasing, or mild sexual abuses at public places , gradually, I taught myself to reciprocate boldly in such awkward situations. Except peers and friends suggestions, girls generally don't get authentic personal guidance on how to tackle such incidences.

I remember one incident during my school days, when i was in 9th std.One sanitary pads company came in for advertisement of its pads in our school. We girls were taken in a separate classroom and an educational video had been shown to us about these menstruation and the necessity of use of pads.My convent school carried it off completely as a hush hush girly event , as they too were probably ignorant then about the importance of coeducation on such issues. ie.open involvement of both genders in such programs which is essential part of sex education. Later on boys kept on inquiring us about the topic of this special girly film. We were shy to tell them about what we have been shown. I now wonder, what if we have been shown this information together with boys. We could have had a healthy discussions under the expertise and that it would have been a thorough realization to boys, about how girls undergo a physiological change and it would only have developed a mutual sensible attitude towards each other.

Suppressed curiosity and restricted male female relationships guarded by highly stigmatized society further leads to gender inequality which vents out with gender biased jokes, eve teasing, engraving of abusive words, figures in public places like toilets and class rooms, physical and verbal abuses and ends up to violent sexual behaviors.

In this internet era, the situation has not changed much.Now that we are vaguely concerned about the necessity of sex education right from the childhood, there's still controversies and rounds of debates among educationists, politicians, and other experts about how to introduce sex education in our nation. With the prevailing culture of silence and hypocrisy we own about sexuality, our experts hold contradictory opinions about what to be taught , how to be taught, at the appropriate phase of age. Broadly the common feeling is that sex education means knowledge about our reproductive organs, and intercourse of male and female. But far from this notion, i say it all starts with understanding of touch, humanity values, gender equality , mutual respect and admiration , individual freedom, sense of rationality to question about everything happening around and much more. It further extends to other grave issues pertaining to adolescent age.

Generally in convent schools Moral science book is included in the curriculum. The funny part is that, it only teaches about how to be good in daily life doing regular cores like personal hygiene , prayers to gods, regular school attendance, respecting elders blah blah. Is it enough to limit our moral values with these daily cores? We are taught to be lenient, obedient, god fearing, theists. Shouldn't we be taught to develop liberal independent thinking ? Shouldn't we be taught about respecting other gender & other living beings? Especially shouldn't boys be taught about respecting girls and their individual freedom? Ironically our society, our schools imbibes leniency and our surrender to the societal structure. We are mold accordingly to follow the stereotyped crowd by suppressing our individualism. Hammering of irrelevant & relatively less important issues ends up our first step of sex education.

India is a young nation with adolescent population of 243 million out of which more than 50% of the adolescent population is living in urban areas .While sex education is a distant dream in state owned schools, English medium CBSE and ICSE boards have ,so far, included couple of chapters about reproductive organs in their mid secondary and secondary classes. Adolescent girls and boys undergo physical changes simultaneously they are being exposed to movies, TV, mobiles, internet, social networking sites, and games and more or less are thus exposed to sexually explicit content in various forms. Our kids are no longer, part of the filmy culture where physical intimacy is being portrayed with two flowers hitting one another. They have easy access to most of the mediums and rely on the information shared through these mediums and share it with peers. They have no reliable, authentic sources to satisfy their curiosity and thus with a fresh perspective, a comprehensive study program of sex education is needed as per UNISEF guidelines for children rights. It should include visual elaborations pertaining physiology of human organs, menstruation in girls, (proper use of pads and the hygiene related to it), masturbation, teenage fears, psychological outbursts, suicidal tendencies out of academic failure , infatuations, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual exploitation, drug addictions, homosexuality, process of intercourse in a scientific manner, importance of contraceptives, pre-marriage unsafe abortions, and even about the evil effects of rapes.

The program designed by National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in the year 2007 on adolescent sex education had been banned recently by 10 states in India on the grounds of offencing cultural ethos, vulgarity and under the irrational fear of sexual promiscuity, experimentation and irresponsible sexual behaviour. Apparently this decision has been carried out under political influence of one of the conservative rightest groups.

With the alarming ever rising figure of violent sexual crimes across the nation, a widespread movement of awareness is ardently needed to cope up with the crisis. I believe parents and teachers generation should be educated first to deal with emotional, physical , and mental well being of new age generation.

Media can play a big role for acquitting societal and personal inhibitions. Also it can promote a healthy open and liberal approach towards importance of sex education in public minds. It’s the need of the hour that this present grownup generation should leave behind cultural taboos and should educate themselves to sculpt young minds.

Jayashree Ingle

Updated : 1 Jun 2017 7:56 AM GMT
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