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Sex education in schools can help counter the ill effects of porn

March 22, 2007

Who says it is not in our Indian culture to talk about sex? Ancient Indian culture was very open about sex. But the misinformation that talking and learning about sex is against our Indian culture is being spread by prudish parents and teachers opposing the teaching of sex education in schools. In fact recently the state of Madhya Pradesh banned sex education in schools because “illustrations in an instruction manual for teachers were obscene“! The sex education classes were part of the adolescence education programme for Class IX and above, and were aimed at creating AIDS awareness among students. And what exactly did the teachers find obscene? Diagrams of male and female bodies!

While some statistics say that more than a quarter of Indian youth have premarital sex , others report a far higher figure. According to a study by Avishkaar, a counselling clinic in Mumbai, premarital sex among 18- to 20-year-olds in metros is ove 6o per cent amongst both boys and girls. In fact, the all India occurrence of STDs in the age group of 18 to 30 is as high as 48 to 52 per cent! True, as many as 60 per cent are from the lower strata of society where there is a lack of awareness about safe sex (read: lack of education). But even amongst the middle and upper classes the figure is approximately 20 per cent.

When it comes to admitting to indulging in premarital sex, most tend to keep mum because of strong parental and social disapproval. So we shall never know the exact number of people who indulge in unsafe sex.

In the state of Maharashtra sex education is not being taught as yet. And nor has a syllabus been drawn up inspite of a government order to make sex education compulsory in high school. It was opposition from both parents and teachers that stalled the implementation of the project last year. Thankfully, the Union Human Resources Development Ministry is not taking this lying down. According to a newspaper report yesterday, the Ministry issued a reminder to the state and ordered that sex education be implemented from this academic year. That is why the education department in Maharashtra is now taking some steps to formulate the syllabus. Basically the HRD Ministry is keen to implement this because of the AIDS epidemic and also aspects like sexually transmitted diseases and reproductive health. However the parents and teachers who are opposed to this feel that we are corrupting our youth! A quote from a Mumbai Mirror news report:

Most parents and teachers do not want sex education to be part of the curriculum bcause of ethical and acedimic reasons….they felt that there were chances of the children misinterpreting the information given…unlike other countries where sex education is openly taught in schoools, we cannot so as the structure of our society is different. Out culture and ethos do not permit us to discuss sex openly…we could end up corrupting our students…

This is complete bullshit. Children don’t become promiscuous because they learn about sex. If they do start sex activities earlier than they should it is more because of the influence of the movies, television, pornography, the mileu they are brought up in and the influence of family and friends. Not sex education! In fact sex education can explain to them the moral and emotional aspects of sex and also counter the ill effects of pornography. Sex education in fact is a great opportunity to do this as it is a known fact that Indian parents neglect to do their duty when it comes to teaching their children about sex…and the consequence is that kids turn to pornography. I wonder if the so called politicians, educationists and parents who are opposing sex education are aware of the harm caused by internet pornography? As this netsafety site says:

Research has established that on-line Pornography plays an accessory role in negative social issues such as child abuse, violence against women, rape, inequality, relationship and family breakdown, youth crime, promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases.

Its time that we realised that the only way to fight online pornography is to arm our children with knowledge. As this news report says about India:

… in the last three-four years there has been an exponential growth in the number of children being exposed to pornography……these kids are not just in the 15-16 age group, but 12 and 13…the average age when kids in Mumbai learn about sex and access pornography has dropped from 16 to 13 years.

Who is to tell children how to deal with porn? Who is to put it all into perspective? Who is to tell the children about the sexual predators on the internet?

We know that the knowledge will never be given in Indian homes because of extreme prudishness. So the education system has to take care of it. Its the only way to a mentally and physically healthy society. I just hope that the countrywide agitation that is being planned by the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) against the teaching of sex education fails.

As this report says, “sex education does not mean teaching children how to have intercourse!”

If the government succumbs to pressure to stop sex education, be prepared for more perverts and more sexually transmitted diseases. Be prepared that the five million people currently living with HIV in India will keep increasing. According to estimates, India has a greater number of people living with HIV than any other nation in the world! And to think that in the mid eighties, when the world had already reported over 20,000 reported AIDS cases, India had none!

Update: Sex Education has been banned in Karnataka, Maharashtra…well, I don’t see why they could not alter the syllabus to make it more ‘suitable’ if they thought it was necessary. Why ban sex education? And they could make sure that sex education is taught only to those who have passed puberty…say by the ninth grade. Banning it is an extreme measure. Parents and teachers always live under the delusion that their children are innocent. They probably hark back to the time when they were kids. But times have changed. For example, my cousin did not know the facts of life when she married (at age 19) even though her parents were both doctors but that was 30 years ago when there was no way of finding out as there was no television and no internet. Today fifth grade kids in urban areas start becoming aware of sex and by the time they are in the ninth they know everything. Often they have misconceptions and fears.

Update, 5th April: Apparently municipal schools in Mumbai have had sex education since 1993, according to a TOI report. Amazing that the government was unware of it, considering that these are government schools! According to teachers in the schoools many girls wer secually abused, specially when they were sent back to their village for festivals. Sex education talks helped them realise what was sexual abuse and they got counseling from teachers. They were unable to talk to their parents.

The municipal schools have developed their own module to teach these kids who come mostly from poor families. This project was in fact evaluated by TISS (Tata Insitute of Social Sciences) and they found that these sex education classes increases awarenss of AIDS as well as sexual abuse.

Related Reading: AIDS spreading in India
How education can help prevent AIDS
We hate talking about sex

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Phantom permalink
    March 29, 2007 3:28 pm

    We are a function of our upbringing and the environment in which we interact with all aspects and levels of society and our dear ones. learning about sex is a two pronged approach. Sure there’s the obvious biology and chemistry angle, which is fine to be taught in schools. However theres also the more subtle and equally (if not more) impt emotional aspect of educating a child about the phycjology and emotions behind the act of sex and inter-human relationships. The latter involves the child developing an understandign of why men and women get together and importantly, to understsnd that sex is not a dirty or radical thing, but a natural and beautiful event that should be respected and enjoyed. This is especially impt i reckon for young girls, to be aware that they are in control of their body and they do not have to do anything unless they are comfortable doing it. Boys need to be aware that it is very impt to respect the individuality of a woman, and that sex is only the means to the end and no the end itself.

    I’m afraid that in the midst of this middle class morality crisis, the kids in india grow up having to learn for themselves, which while ok for many, can have negative effects for others, especially in terms of being able to handle peer pressure, self esteem and perception about the act of sex.

  2. April 3, 2007 10:03 pm

    Hi ! I really liked your post on sex education (although I don’t agree with it). Its clean well written and persuasive. I am trying to improve the style on my posts….also…
    May I kindly invite you to visit my blog
    http://justlybalanced.blogspot.com
    My latest post is about ban on sex education.
    Warm regards
    Arshad

  3. amarnath permalink
    October 25, 2007 1:17 pm

    i cannot accept your view as it does dealt comprehensively about the sensivity of the problem. not only that the forces that want to make money basing on the weaknesses of students and youths of this country or abroad are strong and want to immerse us and want to divert us to unimportant things like sex and violence. the forces who are flooding obsenity through internet, films, tv, literature and other media wants to introduce sex education to increase their market.

  4. Ravi permalink
    March 7, 2008 7:22 pm

    Amarnath

    Your view of hinging sex to violence is horrible.

  5. Ravi permalink
    March 7, 2008 7:26 pm

    Arshad

    Its impossible to contain younger generation from having sex and parents are too occupied with their daily chores. What happens if all the young people get AIDS and dies all together. It looks like you do not care about safe sex.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    March 11, 2008 8:25 pm

    Awesome blog you got there. I figured that in india there probably isn’t that much on sex education. I’m 14, brought up in England but I am an indian. So yes, I do know about sex having being taught about it schools. Which is good thing because my parents would never tell me about it and probably just let me try and figure it out for myself. Sex Education should be taught, boys and girls both need to know about it and of puberty, periods, wet dreams etc. At our school, they gave out free condoms to promote safe sex. When I read about the statistics of pre-marital sex in India – I was well, shocked. Like every indian kid, i’ve pretty much been indirectly told not to have sex before marriage. Which I think is fine. What I don’t think is fine is people having to have sex in metros (they’re like trains right?) it is dirty, but if people weren’t so narrow minded about sex in general, they wouldn’t have to hide out in dirty places to have sex. Being brought up in a multi cultural society, a lot of my sexual knowledge comes from my friends and we are able to talk about sex freely (boys & girls) and ofcourse the teachers don’t mind talking about it either so that helps. People understand more and are able to make decisions accordingly. We don’t really talk about sex etc at home so whenever we watch a bollywood movie and sexual scenes come on, I feel so awkward watching it with my parents there. Which is weird because I don’t feel weird watching English movies with my parents and sex comes on – I guess it’s because, it has become a thing: you just dont expect to see indian people having sex on t.v. My dad is coming to terms with the fact that I know about sex, rape, prostitution etc. and doesn’t seem to mind talking about it that much. Especially, when we got to India – because I don’t know why, but strange men are always perving on me so i have to stay aware of these things.
    Sex is also something to take away the sexual frustration, if people were taught that masturbating is okay then perhaps people will resort to that instead (which is definitely safe) or even kissing.

    I think I’m going to stop there, because i’m obviously rambling on now, boring the minds of people but err yeah, these are just my opinions. To sum up: sex should be made aware of and sex education is the way forward.

    Take it easy all. x

    Thanks Anonymous for sharing the experience of UK schools. I guess you can consider yourself very lucky indeed as compared to Indian youngsters. It is good to know that you have the knowledge required and at the same time respect your parents’ values. Often the clash of cultures leads to confusion. But actually if you read my write-up on the age of consent you will get an overview of what it is like over the world. It’s not so much a question of cultural values, but what is good for oneself above all. In India things have changed to a large extent and datign is very common, but premarital sex is not common before 18. – Nita.

  7. July 30, 2008 9:46 pm

    hi
    i need ur help i cant stop bing affected by sex.the world is so cruel.please tell me wat to do.u r right ponography had taken over almost all my class mates were 15 yr old. i need ur help to stop it from taking over me.
    i absolutly agree on ur article .i am actually a foreign student and ive seen the positive effects of sex education

    Ronald, you need to talk to some adults whom you know. And if you are an adult, then please talk to a counselor – Nita.

  8. Ravi permalink
    July 31, 2008 3:07 am

    Anonymous your comment was funny to read though it is so real…lol

  9. Pravin permalink
    February 24, 2011 6:35 pm

    A very good article.
    I would however like to add a few points though.
    Sex Education is & must be done !
    Instead of teenagers figuring out what is right or wrong , just on the basis of curiosity & peer pressure & the *####* world of the Internet, its better teachers teach them properly in schools(as Ms.Nita has rightly said)
    But,
    it’s better if the class is divided on gender basis (9th or 10th std. students)
    All the boys in one class & girls in another
    & instructors equally divided (male instructor for boys & likewise for girls),
    should teach them on sex education.
    In this way , no body feels shy to open up & ask questions
    The sessions are usually 1 hour long & very effective if done properly.
    (That’s how we were taught)
    Its really a pity, to read that authorities elected by us, the people have such God damn mindset,
    as if they don’t have kids & none of them have any doubts
    Oh God,
    please let lightning strike this dumb-heads & light their fuses
    Amen

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