Sexuality Education & Indian Culture—Where’s the Glitch?
Indian culture has been quiet resilient when it comes to sexuality education. Unfortunately, even today, in major parts of India, this topic is considered to be a massive taboo. There have been many attempts so far to incorporate sexuality education in schools and encourage parents to openly talk with their kids on this to raise awareness, but none of these efforts have resulted in a successful conclusion.
There’s a list of factors that act as a glitch when it comes to breaking India’s resistance towards sexuality education. The first and foremost of which is cultural resistance, where even the mere mention of the term ‘’sex’’ in general can often raise people’s eyebrows right away. Next is the confusion that clouds individuals’ minds about the term ‘’sexuality education.’’ They often misunderstand its definition, resulting in the subject’s isolation further. And lastly, there’s of course the socio-political will. Read on to know what are the most common theories that are raised against a comprehensive sexuality education versus why we think they don’t make much sense in today’s social and cultural scenario.
Most people in India limit this term’s definition to only the gender of a person, followed by the act of having sex, or intercourse. Whereas, in reality, sexuality is a much broader term that encompasses a lot of things within it. As per the World Health Organization, ‘’A central aspect of being human that encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction… Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.’’
However, Indian culture mostly sees only half of what the term covers and thus, isolates it.
The battle with the Indian culture
In India, the strongest resistance towards sexuality education comes from this element called ‘’cultural values’’ wherein people think talking about sex or letting children be educated about sexuality is going against your culture. Despite the fact that India does have a rich history in exploring sexuality and pleasure, it is unfortunate that topics like sex, menstruation, gender identity, self exploration, sexual organs, etc. are considered as taboo topics.
Most schools (private and public) do not offer sexuality education and the very few that do, only cover aspects of sexual health and hygiene and that’s all. According to a recent study, even most parents in India avoid talking about sexuality with their kids, courtesy, their deep concern over going against their culture. This further leads to the kids learning about such stuff from other sources, which can be exaggerated or exploited definitions, but due to the lack of awareness which they could have gotten from home itself, they often get a twisted understanding of sexuality as well.
The question here is, will this culture change or remain stagnant?
Once there was a time when practices like Sati were actively a part of our culture and so was the rigidity of not letting women work after marriage. But none of these instances exist as on today, so can we expect a change in views about sexuality education as well?
Triggers Sexual Activity
Another taboo thought in India is that having sexuality education actually provokes youngsters to start having sex right away. This is a misconception as according to a WHO report, being educated about sexuality actually defers the start of sexual activity in youngsters as they are more aware of the consequences and it also leads them to have safe sex, with all necessary precautions when they do start it.
Why Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) is important?
The answer is simple. CSE is not just limited to sex education. It emphasizes on the individual, their sexuality, their thoughts, and their identity. It encompasses entirely the physical, biological, psychological, as well as social aspects of an individual’s entity and sexuality. From bodily changes, to differences in opinions, rapport with fellow youngsters, parents, teachers to focusing on common social issues like bullying, infections, teen relationships, breakups, as well as highlighting the importance of consent and safety—are aspects that CSE covers completely.
Indian youth does need a comprehensive and legit overview of understanding sexuality, which can guide them through their puberty as well as adulthood, and transform them into more responsible and understanding adults, who can maintain healthy thoughts and relationship with others.
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