Looking at the life forms available on our planet, no matter how big or small, intelligent or not, societal or not, it can be said that reproduction is the very basic instinct of life. This basic instinct of reproduction is the main reason for the continuation of life on this rock in space that we call Earth. Maybe for the same thing Bill Bryson in his book ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ has said that, “ Life wants to be, Life doesn’t want to be much, from time to time life goes extinct and still life goes on”.
This urge to reproduce and to pass on all the biological knowledge to the next generation leads us to another question; Sex. sex is the way to pass on this information, to reproduce. That is why sex has a very important place in all the cultures that has ever been developed by humanity. Sex is not important for that purpose only. Sex is a very important component of our health.it is said that if you want to live a healthy life then you have to have a good understanding of sex and the practices that are associated with sex.
The basic nature of all the intelligent life forms is curiosity and this curiosity makes us keen about sex from the very early age. According to Fraudian theory of Pshyco-Sexual Development, humans are curious to sex from the age of as early as 3 years. And we explore sex from that age only. It is believed that the experiences of that time guides us about how we will feel about sexuality and sex in the later period of our life.
In the current India talk, discussions and education about sex is generally a taboo. We believe that it is our culture and our ancestors have been hesitant about this topic that is why we have not been sensitized to this issue in a way that we can talk about it that commonly. But that seems far from truth because if that would have been the case then we Indians would not have been the culture which introduced Kamsutra and many other erotic literatures and architectures tio the world. When we think about it, it seems that this development must be a recent one when India was facing a narrow and dogmatic approach to life.
Sex Education and Sexuality Among Adolescents
Adolescence is one of the most important phases of life. Adolescence is the transition age between childhood and adulthood. It is the phase where the body gets matured mentally and physically both. In this age when an individual’s capacity to abstract and critical thinking gets formed.
Individual’s understanding about his/her own sexuality governs psychological and social behavior. This must be guided with great care and attention. But India talks about sex and sexuality has been a great taboo this makes the adolescents to be dependent on books and media completely to understand about these issues. We Indians never include sex and sexuality in our dinner and day to day talks. This is the reason that our adolescents and even adults dont understand sex and sexuality in a that they should have.
The reason behind this dogmatic and narrow thinking are the myths that say that the greater exposure to these fields of discussion and debate will increase the sexual proximity of our young minds and that will led them to dangers associated with it. But the result of this hesitation is that we are facing teenage pregnancies and early exposure to STDs ( Sexually Transmitted Diseases). The modern contraceptive usage among the individuals of 15 to 19 years of age is very low in India with 15% in Delhi and only 2% in Bihar.
These all presumptions seem baseless when we see the data which says that approximately 53% of the male adolescents and 47% of the female adolescents are victims of sex abuse in India. And the various studies that have been done by researchers says that the exposure to sex and sexuality results into delayed entering into sexual relations, lower prevalence of HIV and other STDs, higher use of contraceptives and positive sexual behaviours.
Parent- Adolescent Communication About Sex
Parent- Adolescent communication about sex is very important to make the individual comfortable about sex and sexuality issues. The research says that those who have had sex communication or sex education in their adolescence are more serious and responsible adults.
In India we use to think that by not talking about sex to the adolescents we are saving them from unwanted consequences of this issue but it is not the case in reality. We are a country suffering heavily from the burden of HIV, we are a country with 2.3 to 2.4 million cases of HIV. but the interesting thing is that the youth population consists of around one quarter of our total population yet around one third of HIV cases are among the population below 25 years olds.
So, what story does it tell? Does it say that our approach towards having sex conversations with our adolescents is bearing fruits? Judging by the available data the answer is a big NO.
The common reasons why Indian parents refrain themselves from discussions about sex and sex related topics are the embarrassment of talking about sex, confusion about the right age to talk and the lack of knowledge and training.
We are talking about parents here because studies done globally suggests that the communication about sex and related issues between adolescent and parent may have a positive impact on sexual choices and decisions because parents are an important source of sexual information for adolescents.
Sex Education in Curricullum
The trajectory of Sex Education in India has been alarming. The talks about inclusion of sex education in have been initiated earlier also but the dogma and embarrassment about sex is so deep in our society that it has been opposed frequently.
In 2002 UNESCO launched a 6 country study including India about sex education where 3 districts of Odisha were selected. But it was met with controversy and opposition so this programme was suspended and reemerged in 2007 as ‘Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health (ARSH) Education’.
But the thing with sex education and sex and related issues communication is that the societies always need a nudge towards positive changes and Indian society need that nudge from the government with the help of various communication techniques. Broad and explained communication about serious issues works as a nudge and makes people familiar with issues and problems related to it. A constant and effective communication breeds familiarity among people and as Nietzsce said about familiarity, “familiarity breeds liking, it’s just an exposure effect”.
But the important thing that must be kept in mind is that the communication about this issue is important and it needs a careful, detailed and cautious approach and above all we need to train our teachers, parents and even health professionals so that they can handle all the problems and queries well enough. In India, the parents, teaching staff and the health professionals are not that well equipped to talk about sex and sex related issues to adolescents and that needs to be changed as soon as possible.
It is the ripe time to include sex Education in Indian education system and to make it normal to be able to talk about sex. It must not remain a taboo. The argument that it is against our culture is nothing more than a myth because we are a culture that awarded the world with Kamasutra. We even worship a form of lord shiva that represents sexual organ. This suggests that our culture does not teach us to make a taboo of a very essential issue that is SEX Communication.
Now the debate about, ‘whether we should talk abou sex and include sex education in the curricullum’ is irrelavent and unnecessary. The need of the moment is to debate about; what will be the form of sex education? What should be the right age to introduce it in education? How will the professionals be trained to perform this important task? And what should be the aims that we should try to achieve through these modules?