Millennium Post

Still a taboo subject

Sex is considered to be a social taboo in India. Most Indians avoid discussing sex in the open, despite the fact that India has a population of 1.27 billion with about 93 women being molested, abused and raped every single day. Even minors have fallen frequent victims to rapists, so where does it is all lead to?

In reference to the Bengaluru mass molestation incident, one of many such incidents, women continue to be groped, tormented and raped daily in the country. How should we solve the problem or stop it?

We live in a society where discussing about safe-sex, good touch and bad touch with kids is looked upon as western influence which in turn raises questioning eyebrows. The transition from a child to an adult is very sensitive as not just the physical but the mental evolution is also at its peak. With the majority of conservative parents ignoring their kid's sexual dilemmas, and schools/government refraining from sex education, we are leaving our children to learn about sex through movies, media, and the Internet.

People in favour of sex education for children, want a tweaked version of the same, whereas there are some, who blatantly deny the need of sex education citing that it promotes immorality and is against our culture!

In 2009 a Rajya Sabha committee headed by M Venkaiah Naidu (BJP, Union Minister) recommended that there should be no sex education in schools. The committee stated that sex education "promotes promiscuity" and has "the potential to pollute the young and impressionable minds of students by exposing them to indecent material" and causes "incalculable damage to our school children who are the future citizens of this country". But present academic system encourages stimulation of instincts, which is injurious to the society. To bring focus on the Indian educational system 'instinct control' should be an important objective. And for that, the dignity of restraint has to be well planted in education.

As children, we start to learn about sexuality from a very young age from our parents and caregivers and later from teachers and general society (including media). We need to learn to respect, protect and take care of our bodies. A study on child abuse by Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007 found that 53% of children (both girls and boys) faced some form of sexual abuse and the majority of the abusers are people known to the child.

Coming back to the Bengaluru incident, as per a minister, an alleged "mass molestation" on the streets of one of India's biggest cities was the result of young people trying to "copy" western mindsets and clothing. But, on a contrary is molesting/ abusing a woman, influenced by western civilisation, a part of the Indian culture among men?

However, the same western countries spreading the mindset, have already made sex education a part of the school curriculum. Which has resulted in the reduction in the frequency of unprotected sex, increase in the usage of condoms and contraceptives and most importantly there has been an increase in the knowledge about human sexuality.

"Denying children sex education is one of the more heinous crimes adults can do. The root of a lot of our social ills is the lack of sex education – not just in terms of biological knowledge – but also the lack of understanding the rights and responsibilities that are involved with sex. Girls need to be taught that they have a right to say NO'', says Praveen Sinha, professor of Psychology at Delhi University.

Similarly, Asha Jain, a school teacher in a government school in Delhi feels sex education is an integral part of schooling and it would not only prevent abuses/ rapes but also prepare a victim to deal with a similar situation to understand the mindset of such an act.

While we discuss this topic, there are many others who have a different opinion about the same. A teenager feels, "As long as porn is freely available on all kinds of media, rapes and abuse will go on despite best sex education programs." Coming to a conclusion, most of us believe that proper sex education to kids in their young age can inculcate awareness not only about various health related issues but also prepare them to deal with abusive behaviour and their sexual curiosities in a safe way.

However, our government is still unclear of the important aspect that may majorly reduce teenage pregnancies, child abuses & rapes on minors. But, like every stick that can be used to either help a blind man cross the street or hit an innocent man, sex education too can get ugly. Young minds armed with too much of knowledge about safe sex may consider engaging in casual sex too often. Instead of focusing on their career and responsibilities they may give much time to fun and frolic in safe sex.

The incidents of premarital sex may gradually rise.Clearly, further research is needed to better determine the components of an effective program for students. Hence psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists and the government can help tailor the existing programme so they can more likely to be effective in the medium to long-term impacting the attitudes and behaviour of adolescents in India.

While,in the wake of the horror of Bengaluru mass-molestation, such an incident of molestation is a patch on the Indian society and urgent steps are needed to curb such a menace making India safe place for women.
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