Content advisory 16+ With a population of more than 1.32 billion people, you might think that Indian citizens would be more forthcoming when talking about sex and educating their young about safe sex practices. India reports a huge number of teenage pregnancies and a staggering amount of sexual abuse. However, sex education in India remains a very controversial topic.
In 2007, the Central Government announced the launch of the Adolescence Education Programme in schools and was met with immediate resistance. It was banned in thirteen states and even after 10 years, it remains banned in five states. The curriculum too is vastly non-uniform across the districts of different schools.
The common notion goes that sex education is against Indian norms and ethics. Some are of the opinion that it would promote sexual practices among teenagers. Truth to be told, in the age of the internet where information can be found at the click of a button, sex is not a topic that is unfamiliar to adolescents. Then there are the books, movies and online videos. I remember being told not to read some particular books as a teenager. (This obviously made me more curious and I read them anyway!) There is a lot of curiosity in the mind of any fifteen year old. It is the time they are going through hormonal changes, and they start questioning everything for reason and clarity. It is only natural for them to be inquisitive. It is the time they start being attracted to the opposite sex and sometimes they engage in activities without really knowing what they are doing. Most of the information acquired by teenagers regarding sex are through porn videos which might give them an entirely false perception of events (given these are not meant to be educational). The teenage mind is not mature enough to understand the implications of these activities.
It is important that sex education be introduced in every school. While students are taught about the reproductive cycle of the frog and other animals, the human anatomy and physiology is vastly ignored (or rather that concerning the reproductive organs and the reproductive cycle). It is important that adolescents be taught about this. In fact -- and going against common belief -- studies have shown that sex education actually delays the start of sexual activity, reduces sexual activity among young people and encourages those already sexually active to have safer sex.
In addition, at a time where rapes and other forms of sexual abuse are on the rise, both young people and more ‘mature’ people should be taught about the importance of consent and about their rights as an individual. While it is okay to use storks as fairy-tale substitutes to escape ‘uncomfortable questions’ from primary school children regarding where babies come from, it should also be factored in that an imperative exists to educate the mini adults before it is too late.
Moreover, sex education should not only be restricted to the school-going adolescents, but also to the illiterate population in the reproductive age group. This would prevent a lot of teenage pregnancies as well as unwanted pregnancies among older people; furthermore, it would reduce abortion rates and help curtail the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases. It is really time to sit back and think regarding the validity of your approach in raising a teenager. Like it or not, teenagers exist in an emotional framework where sexual matters are not only an inevitable part of the physical landscape but, just as importantly, of the emotional one as well. Failure of families and educators to acknowledge this plain fact and apply themselves to it simply amounts to gross negligence of their adult responsibilities -- and is unacceptable.
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