Sex Surveys and research tell us how badly India needs sex education
Call it teen marriage or “legal” teenage sex, but what it results is in teenage pregnancy. It underlines the need for sex education in India, more so than in other countries. Half of India’s women marry before the age of 18 and about 18 percent are married even before the age of 15! Even if they want to, these young girls and their young inexperienced husbands cannot always prevent pregnancies. One wonders how much they know about sex, contraceptives, or the bad health effects of pregnancy on young teens.
Despite all this staring at it in the face India shows little signs of shedding its conservatism about sexual matters. Survey after survey, year after year, tells us that the majority of young Indians get their sex education from friends and from porn.
A recent global survey confirms that only 52 percent of Indians felt that there is “enough” advice and information available on sex. One is not sure whether people from rural India are included in this survey, but the lack of information is bound to be worse there.
The survey showed that most Indians rely on their friends (59 per cent) for sexual knowledge, followed by magazines (58 per cent). The internet is also one of the major sources of information among those who have received sex education (60) and who have not (46). Books are another major source of information for Indians.
Only 18 percent said they had recieved any sort of guidance from their parents.
The survey also revealed that almost half of the men interviewed did not use condoms regularly. Out of this group, 24.3 percent never use condoms at all, while 4.5 percent don’t do so because they say the women bear the contraceptive burden. Others say they use condoms only occasionally.
A four-year study on 500 students, by MAMTA, has indicated that sex education can be very useful in not just improving the health of young girls but also in controlling the birth rate. Four schools in Haryana participated in this study (2004), two in urban Rewari, and two in rural Bawal. After they received the sex education classes, as many as 78 percent of the rural girls and 33 percent of the urban girls said that they would “decline sex without a condom”. Before the classes, only about 5 percent of the rural schoolgirls and 10 percent of the urban ones had any awareness of condoms.
Hypocrisy pervades our government as it kow tows to those who are against sex education. People who feel that children turning to pornography for information, or teenage pregnancies or child abuse is the lesser evil. Recently, an article in the Guardian, UK, expressed its bafflement over India’s stand on sex education. It quoted a parliamentary committee saying that India’s “social and cultural ethos are such that sex education has absolutely no place in it.” This despite damning statistics which tell us of the high rate of teenage pregnancies, and high rate of child sex abuse.
I will end this post from a quote from the Guardian article by Anindita Sengupta in which she gives her reasons as to why India has puritanical and hypocritical attitude towards sex:
…it has its roots in deep-seated emotions that are closely entangled with centuries of religious and cultural mores. Leaders from Buddha to Gandhi demonised sex, it was seen as something evil or dirty, something to be avoided, controlled or condemned. Add to that elements of prudish patriarchy, peevish ignorance and paranoid imaginings about cultural colonisation and you have a mess of dysfunctional views with regard to sex.
Related Reading: Indian youth get their knowledge of sex mostly from friends, porno films and “self-reading”
Sex education in schools can help counter the ill effects of porn
Dating does (and should) lead to marraige say teens
We don’t like talking about sex
Teenage Sex on the sly
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