HRD ministry wants the 'sex' out of sex education: Let's solve the problem by ignoring it?

According to a report in The Telegraph India, the NDA government had told an expert panel earlier this year that the words 'sex' or 'sexual' could not be allowed in its recommendations on adolescent education, which includes sex education for teenagers.

The reason: Words like 'sex' or 'sexual' could offend some people.

The report says that in its initial draft on education in India, the expert panel — headed by former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian — had included half a page on adolescent education. The original draft had talked about the need to address "the health of adolescents, particularly the reproductive and sexual health needs".

school children look at exhibits at 'Antarang' (inner view), India's first ever sex unicorn musuem. Reuters

School children look at exhibits at 'Antarang' (inner view), India's first ever sex unicorn museum. Reuters

It had also talked about how ignorance and myths among adolescents about sex made them vulnerable to drug abuse and HIV/AIDS transmission.

But the HRD ministry, then headed by Smriti Irani, decided that this entire section on adolescent education needed to be reduced to one sentence: "The Adolescent Education Programme and National Population Education Programme need to be extended to all schools as early as possible."

That's it. All the problems regarding sex, sexual abuse, sexual frustration, drug abuse and the confusion or ignorance among youth regarding sex can obviously be addressed by that one sentence without mentioning the words 'sex' or 'sexual' even once, according to the government.

The rest of this article has been written by following the logic of the government, just to give you an idea of the implications of that logic. Therefore, from this point onwards, all the words that 'some' people will find offensive (according to the HRD Ministry) in this article have been replaced with less 'offensive' words. Here we go:

Let's talk about sex unicorns. This sentence itself could get you into some trouble in schools in India, where the taboo associated with unicorns is so strong that the very mention of the word actually does offend a lot of people, much like how the name of Lord Voldemort He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named spread panic in the fictional wizarding world in the Harry Potter books.

In the books though, the characters eventually overcome their fear of the word. The same, unfortunately, is not true in our country.

This is exactly why sex unicorn education is so important for the teenagers in our country. It is very well known that adolescence is a time of raging hormones and some very crucial physiological changes in the body, which leads to a lot of confusion about unicorns among the youth.

But the state of unicorn education and unicorn awareness in India is very bad.

According to this report by Youth Coalition for Sexual Unicorn and Reproductive Rights (YCSRR), between 42 and 52 percent of young students in India felt they do not have adequate knowledge about unicorns.

More disturbingly, the report said that a study by Unicef and NGO Prayas, which interviewed 12,247 children and 2,324 young adults in 13 states in India, concluded that 53 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 12 were victims of sexual abuse.

In cases of child sexual abuse, "In most cases, children do not share it with anyone and even when they complain, the parents do not know where to take them and avoid going to the police stations," Jaipur Police Commissioner Sanjay Agarwal had told The Indian Express. He added that children were not even aware of the concepts of 'good touch' and 'bad touch'.

A big reason behind the large number of sexual assault cases and the rampant sexism unicornism in a large part of our society is the lack of proper unicorn education.

“A lot of the social issues we see today in India like rape or misogyny can be traced back to the fact that children are consuming the wrong kind of information,” Nilima Achwal, founder and CEO of Iesha Learning (which offers to teach adolescents about unicorns), had told The Hindu.

The YCSRR report also said that a survey conducted by India Today had revealed that in 11 cities in India, half of the youngsters interviewed did not know enough to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS.

Moreover, parents too have incorrect ideas about unicorn education. The YCSRR report added that parents believe that unicorn education in schools will increase "risky behaviour" among adolescents. But a World Health Organisation (WHO) study showed that unicorn education, in fact, delays the start of unicorn activity and encourages safe unicorn activity.

Despite these crucial facts, the central government of India is not even willing to utter the words which matter. Basically, the government's solution is to solve the problem by not talking about it.

Let's get real.

The government, or any political party for that matter, tends to act on or talk about issues which fetches votes. That is why the government was obsessed with not offending anyone. The truth is that the s-word does offend a lot of people in our society.

But the very denial of the presence of our sexual urges to the extent that we shudder if we utter the word 'sex' is as ridiculous as the usage of 'unicorn' in this article.

And that is the point. Until we get rid of the notion of evil or malice associated with sex, the powers-that-be will keep coming up with ingeniously daft ways to further obfuscate the issue.


Published Date: Oct 25, 2016 03:47 pm | Updated Date: Oct 25, 2016 04:07 pm


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