Sex education in India

Talking about sex in Indian society is not a topic of comfortable discussion and then extrapolating the idea to educate young children about sex education is completely unacceptable. Apart from this major challenge lies in educating young children’s based on their age group, because it will be no logic to teach grade 2 students with details of male and female anatomy. In order to effectively make young minds of age group 5 to 10 years aware, one must tell them to know their danger zones and then must seek help or run once they feel uncomfortable about someone’s touch. These methodologies to educate children’s are implemented at primary level in schools, which as believed is at individual institutional level. Because as per Council of Board of School Education (COBSE) in India, the introduction of education on sex is strictly restricted to age group between 10-19 years onwards.

In the 21st century, the government and other non-government organization are practicing methods to impart topics related to sex awareness in an education system, to surpass the traditional way of girl to girl talk or discussion among peer thus leading to misconception and hypothetical beliefs. The discussions rambled like every girl carries a zygote in her womb since birth and develops further as she grows until a baby is born. The convenient ideology on making children aware of sex in the current system is not by educating them; rather it is by passing them the heritage of fear prevailing along ages on how society will react once they break the barrier.

As per the Times of India article published on 10th April 2007, more than 53% of child abuse cases have been reported in India and same is shared by Infochange India in March 2011. What could be a possible reason for child abuse? Is it illiteracy? Certainly not, because as per an article published on 21st June 2015 by The New Indian Express, in Kerala (the most literate state) itself the reported number of child abuse cases have outnumbered 70 %. So who are these people? Where are they present? Such questions are unanswered because they are either sexually deprived or desperate adults present in any possible form amongst our neighborhood. As most of the cases have reported that the suspect was a known person to the victim.

Why is it not stopping? One of the reasons could be the possibly due to the improper definition of laws against such criminated act. For instance, in Indian Penal Court (IPC) Act 354, the punishment for accused is levied with a weak penalty as this offense is defined as compoundable. And IPC 377 Act is not defining sexual abuse of children as something heinous to criminalize it. So implicitly the law passed is protecting the accused and the end sufferer (victim) is left unattended, which is not what is practiced by US Department of Health and Human Service under The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). They provide medical aid to the victim, counsel them and educate them to make them live independently.

Second reason is inefficiency to spread sex awareness among the young generation. The reason behind it is the opposition by the social activists, who are raising their voice against the belief to introduce sex education in the academic system. On a lighter note, this may be because now the kids of Savita aunty understand that the next door uncle was not asking for a bowl of sugar and the magic balloon at their home was none other than a condom.

Pranav Dubey (Thatmate team member)

Passion to live as a #iitian and a dream to chase #findinggolu aspired him to share his thoughts and add value to social awareness by penning his skillset to something of more worth.(Twitter: @thatmateteam)

Myths behind those days of the month!!

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As soon as a girl reaches puberty she is introduced to the world of myths about Periods. I have come across most of the myths myself which has always left me shocked, has made me laugh and sometimes even ridicule the society for having such misconceptions.

I can’t forget one such incidence when on of my educated cousin asked me not to touch the pickle bottle because I was menstruating. Till date, she and most of my family members religiously follow this ridiculous myth. A few weird – hilarious myths we come across at some point in our life.

One must rest completely in ‘those days’ of the month- I agree a bit on the take rest part, but also believe that exercise in any form would be great to help reduce the cramps. It totally depends on the person and the level of fitness she has.
Cannot enter the room while a person is reading the Holy book – I was at my friend’s place and happened to see my friends’ mom in the room reading a book (which happened to be the Holy book). I went into the room to greet her, instead of asking me how am I doing, she asked me I hope you do not have your periods, else I will need to bathe and start reading the book from the beginning. Seriously!
Cannot enter the church/temple/mosque or any other form of the ‘House of God’- If this was the wish of God, maybe he shouldn’t have created us as well. By having periods I agree to a point there’s blood-unclean blood flowing, but that doesn’t make us unclean spiritually/physically. It is a natural phenomenon and helps a woman to bear a child so it definitely can’t be impure. If God disapproves of this fluid then he should disapprove of all the fluids in the human body.
Cannot eat certain fruits during periods- Someone once told me about not eating papayas during their periods. (HAHA). I still haven’t understood the scientific reason for the same. Kindly let me know if you find it 😛
Cannot swim during your periods-If that’s true then I fail to understand how the women athletes manage? Do they retire for 5- 6 days in a month? or may be they don’t get periods at all. LOL
Missing your period means you ARE pregnant- This is not the only reason for a woman to miss her periods. Can also be due to an unhealthy lifestyle, weight issues, eating habits, stress, workload, certain contraceptives etc.
You should NOT have sex during periods- Might be a little messy but I do not see any other problem with it. And finally, it is up to the man and the woman :).
Woman having periods are MOODY at all times: This can be right for some women, but the temperament cannot be blamed due to ‘periods’. There can be other negative things also happening in the women’s life- marital issues, exams around the corner, job stress, job interview, ‘some’ competition, office politics etc – any of these things can cause a person to behave moody at any time and hour. Well as a matter of fact- all the above-mentioned points can also affect a man. So what does that mean then ? 🙂
Cannot cook and serve people food if you are having your periods- (This is the best one of the lot. Especially for a person who hates cooking/is lazy). It is considered that having period makes you unclean, hence the food you cook is ‘polluted’ and ‘impure’. So unclean food cannot be served to the people of the house. 😀 Wow, so women who don’t like to cook can take rest and chill!
In villages, you are considered an untouchable !!- (Shocking) Sometimes women are asked to stay in a secluded room and aren’t served proper food and are barred from entering the kitchen and other rooms in the house. Can one imagine being treated aloof by their own family? 🙁
I wish instead of telling us what not to do or what to avoid during the periods our elders tell us that it’s a natural process and happens to everyone with XX chromosomes. It is the thing that makes a girl different from those having XY chromosomes. It gives a woman the power to bear a child. It makes a girl a woman!!

Ann John

ann

A Petroleum Engineer by profession, lately on a long vacation. #A nomad -traveler  #14 countries in 16 months.Currently learning #Dutch and discovering my cooking skills #A passionate foodie #an occasional fitness freak :P.

 

Period Tales

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It was the summer of 2001 and I was hardly 11 years old. I still remember it as clear as day. I had had a late, lazy morning and I had just finished taking a dallying, hot water bath. The mischievous little monkey that I was, I stood on the little stool of steel in the bathroom, which was still wet, trying to pull my bloomers up. The next set of events happened in such quick succession that I could hardly comprehend what was happening – The moment I tried to balance myself on my left foot alone, it slipped. The stool toppled and I came crashing down onto it. The edge of the stool struck where it hurt most! I grabbed my crotch, screaming silently inside my head, my eyes tightly shut. When I opened them, there was blood everywhere. Panic!!! I heard a scream. My own. The kind that tends to make your hair stand on end. My mom came rushing in, gave a sigh and said “Prithvi, I had told you about this! There is nothing to cry about!”. But I was wailing my guts out trying to tell her how much it hurt down there. The poor woman, unable to comprehend my woe, had to heat up some more water and give me another bath before I could muster enough breath between my sobs to tell her what actually happened. “Its not my period, Ma. I just fell down and probably broke something” I kept saying. But she was convinced that it was indeed just my period. “The clots are there, see?” she insisted.

That was probably my first encounter with my own menstrual cycle. I say ‘probably’ because I did not get my next period until late in 2003. My mother was worried. But my doctor assured her that it does happen sometimes in cases of early onset of menstruation. As a consequence, I still have no idea whether I got my period on that cursed summer day or a whole 30 months after that!

Either way, I was one of the lucky ones that had an idea about what a period is much before I had to confront it. Although my mother had told me what happens, it was Proctor & Gamble (yes, the company that sells Whisper), that taught me why and how it happens. Irrespective of whether they did it to promote their own product or as a part of their CSR initiative, they did well in educating young girls on the whats, hows, and hygiene of menstruation.

But that is not the only reason I consider myself lucky. I have seen my own cousins and other young girls who have had to use cloth during their period, while I easily managed with sanitary napkins. This, in an era that has seen unnecessarily graphic ads being made specifically for the purpose of promoting more hygienic alternatives. Sadly, menstruation and anything related to it is still considered taboo in most parts of India. I have heard of how teachers just mumbled a few unintelligible words or left the entire topic to their students when they had to teach about menstruation or copulation. But luckily (again), when my teacher had to teach us the subject, she did it with a straight face and very matter-of-factly. It reminds of this little incident – Right after she walked out of the class, one of the guys from the back stood up, held up an Apsara pencil (the black ones with a red tip), pointed at the tip and said “Guys, this pencil is menstruating!” with a snigger. Immediately, another guy stood up and said with utmost authority “Dude, no. We never make fun of such things!”. And so it was that I was rescued heroically in the only moment I felt the blood rushing to my cheeks.

Now, although most of India is hush-hush about everything sex and menstruation, I find a teensy bit of consolation in the fact that at least in my locality I can uninhibitedly walk out into the street carrying a pack of sanitary napkins or a box of condoms without having the need to hide it inside a black polythene bag! The damn thing is redundant now. After all, every soul in the country knows that if it’s a black polythene bag, it is mostly likely hiding one of three things – meat, alcohol or sanitary napkins!

Prithvi Belgaonkar

An avid reader, enthusiastic trekker, amateur blogger @prithvibel.wordpress.com and passionate backpacker

Things they won’t let me say…

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10:00 a.m: A typical Sunday morning, the scene is set – study table, laptop and a cup of strong coffee. I am about to start writing my new blog post and Aai (mother in Marathi) enters the room.

Aai: What are you working on a Sunday morning? (She thinks whenever I am on the laptop I am working)

Me: Thinking of writing a blog on periods.

Aai: Are you nuts? I guess the plummeting oil prices and the job insecurity have a lasting effect on your brain. Why don’t you write about oil prices, resilience or Plan B?

11:00 am: Aai asks me to join her for the grocery shopping. Unlike other e-commerce sites, she doesn’t believe in buying grocery online. We both head towards the nearby grocery store. While shopping I remember I have to buy sanitary napkins , for ‘those days’ of the month. I head towards the billing counter, the guy wraps the packet in a newspaper and then hands over a black polythene bag. I wonder whether he is handing over a time bomb to me. 😛

3:00 PM: The door bell rings,my niece and sister-in-law enter the house. Aai starts gossiping about the recent television serial she follows with my sister-in-law; in the meanwhile, my niece and I start watching television. Suddenly an advertisement of sanitary napkin pops up, it shows how a sanitary napkin absorbs the blue liquid. My niece who recently got her periods mocks at the ad and tells me, “Attu, am I colorblind or they are actually showing blue color?”

5:00 PM: I call my friend to tell her about my recent venture of starting the Facebook page “Thatmate” to answer some of the questions related to sex education and menstruation. (Well, this idea popped up when my niece asked, ‘What is a condom’? My whole family was taken aback as if she had committed a crime). To which she replied think twice before doing something like that.

I come from an orthodox family and have heard several myths related to menstruation since childhood. I remember when mother used to get her periods she didn’t enter our pooja room and kitchen. I used to enjoy those 5 days as we used to outsource food from hotels. Mother used some old cotton rags during those days of the month and used to hide them in some dark place. When I got my period mother didn’t insist me to follow everything she used to do, however, she asked me to refrain from going inside the pooja room and she still refrains me. Well, if God disapproves of this fluid then she should disapprove our existence too.

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I wish instead of telling me what not to do during my periods my mother would have told me that it’s a natural process and will occur almost till the age of 45. It is the thing to be proud of , it makes you different from those with the XY chromosome. It makes you a woman, Welcome to the womanhood!!

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Madhavi Jadhav

Let’s not talk about Sex!!

When we conquered polio and kicked off leprosy, the featuring gigantic billboard at my hospital entrance jubilantly announced,

“Condom kabb kabb, Youn sambandh jabb jabb” (Use condom whenever you do sex).

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This ad replaced “Do boond zindagi ke” and other boring middle-class polio-malaria ads. City of Pune was class ahead with soaring AIDS patients count. And mind you, they weren’t barbar-infected ones or drug needle ones but 100 % quality assured Sexually transmitted disease.

In fact, HIV is royal in that sense. It doesn’t spread much by barbar-razor. Drug needle sharing, yes! Vaginal intercourse with AIDS infected person, yes! Anal intercourse, HIV loves it!!

But, beyond these royal sexual pleasures, I witnessed a slum in Pune with every Tom, Dick and Harry as well kids of Tom, Dick and Harry infected with the disease. Smiling innocent kids and victims of born ultimatum. Their fathers never heard of a condom, even when the government had installed more condom outlets than toilets in a slum.

Well, in one of the questionnaires, man replied that he doesn’t use it because it is tasteless and difficult to chew. Definitely, he never saw Sunny Leone with banana demo of condom use (Please watch it if you haven’t). Our government sevikas distributed condom in every shack of slum, but could never explain how to use it.

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Let’s come out of filth of slum, and hit the happening clubs and rave parties. Thankfully, everyone is perfect in condom use, with condom nicely snugged in wallet just beneath their passport sized photos. Not joking. When office clerk asks for a photo, condom pops out. But, then one fine day, condom doesn’t just pop out. In middle of sexual foreplay, he remembers his supply is over. Takes a chance and Fatakkk! The damage is done.

I would say its not just desi (Indian) problem. Sex is quite a stigma in India, and almost 80% of youth don’t have it before they turn 30. People after 50 rarely have it, including married couples. Kids sleeping between the couples are the greatest contraceptives. And women busy in kitchen chorus lose the desire. Sexual catastrophes including teenage pregnancy are still the issues of the occidental west. Its surely easier to conquer them than polio and malaria in India, if people just don’t chew off the condom.

Learn, educate and implement.

Watch “Fatak” to begin with as poet Gulzar puts it,

“ये इश्क नहीं आसां, अजी एड्स का खतरा है.

पतवार पहन जाना, ये आग का दरिया है.”

Praveen Jha

Pen name: vamagandhi (https://vamagandhi.com/)

https://www.facebook.com/khilandar/

Don’t JUST DO IT !!!

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‘We don’t need any education

Don’t need to know any birth control

Dark sarcasm of all the sex problems

No teachers & so the kids are alone

All in all it’s just another topic to troll’

– Gulabi Flayed

To begin with, let me congratulate my friend for creating THATMATE and thank her for asking me to write this guest article. I have penned down a few things I have to say on the relevance of the effort she is trying to put together.My friends accuse me of finding inspiration in my life from Bollywood and they are not completely off on that. I agree that many of the dialogues in movies go really overboard but some just make so much sense in a different context. Like this one ‘Aata hai Jai, Ghursawari har Ranjhore ka Rathore Maa ke pet se seekh keaata hai’. I don’t know about horse riding, but it certainly holds somewhat true when it comes to sex. The most pertinent question is how did Adam and Eve figure out the art of multiplication without divine guidance or how we Indians quadrupled our population after independence with an abysmal literacy rate of 12%.

Kamasutra is the greatest research thesis on sex and an undeniable part of our heritage, which we may not speak much about but silently take enormous pride in. Keeping all this in mind, how do my friend’s effort to sensitize the world on sex education fit in. Is she trying to teach nursery rhymes to graduates? The answer to that is simple, we know the art but not really the science behind it.

Sex education is much more comprehensive than just talking about sex. There is no doubt that sex is a pleasure, but it is a treasure to know about birth control techniques, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), sexual anatomy, right sexual habits etc. The ‘sanskar’ in our families did not really give us complete access to this wealth of knowledge when we were growing up, and such topics were always kept inside our mental closets. Let’s not pretend that we are modern enough to discuss such topics openly when in reality we are part of the problem. In Indian homes, sex-related issues do not get discussed and it is right then when google comes handy. But the internet itself is a world of its own, where one would not know which is a fact and which is an opinion. So it would be a great idea to know, share and propagate knowledge through a forum which is reliable and trustworthy. And I believe that is what THATMATE is all about, where we share because we care.

It is not unwise for someone to question how far such an effort can go. For that, I need to narrate some history of social transformation in our friendly neighborhood. In the seventies, in a small country like Bangladesh, the average children per woman used to be around six when in contrast the developed world had an average of just two. The Bangladesh government-appointed literate women in the villages who would go from door to door to spread awareness about techniques of birth control and family planning. At the same time, the government emphasized on girl’s education which helped in making girls self-reliant and delayed the average age of getting married by a few years. In a couple of decades, the country managed to halve its population growth.

Sex is not that complex and neither is knowing about it. It is an art for lovers and science for doctors, but for an enlightened soul, it is a bit of both.

Priyam Ghosh

 

An engineer by profession, a filmy by passion and a writer when I am forced to write 😛

The Hidden Talks

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Indian society has a lot of taboos floating around since ages entailing children, adults & families. Sex education and menstruation have been one of them, maybe topping the list. It’s the most prevalent thing in this world and still not talked about openly. As a teenager, 9th class starts the basics of sex education via the ‘Chapter’ in Biology, all students are silent and ginning with teacher’s tone remaining constant throughout the week. All students are excited about this part and increase their knowledge via different sources (mostly internet and gossips).

The situation is different for girls and boys. Boys have lesser problems as compared to girls. I feel girls have to face the society with all they go through and stand strong and do their daily chores irrespective of their problems, which they still can’t talk about. Talking about menstruation, girls have to go through that period every month, which is scary sometimes according to my point of view. I know this because one of my close friends one fine day, shared with me her emotions while going through and I can recall her restlessness, increased emotional sensitivity, lack of energy, irritable feelings and lots more. I can properly recall that line when I actually felt what was like to go through menstruation – It’s like when in an afternoon, a drop of sweat rolls down my spine, you can feel its every little movement and where it’s going, this way imagine pouring down of lots of blood………..shrills in the body. It’s like they wanna talk it all out but somehow can’t. But when they do, it relieves them. So, girls have lots of struggles every day in different ways, which everyone cannot understand.

Apart from menstruation, sex education is not properly imparted to the people. This is a reason why in some sections of the society, women are downgraded and betrayed during their periods. Due to lack of proper knowledge, people usually adopt ways to explore it via the internet and other means, which may not guarantee their understanding. Finally at some point of life, everyone will experience in their life, so why not educate them beforehand? I feel a person does a particular thing surely if he/she is refused to access it, know about it and made felt like it’s a deep secret. That’s what is going on for quite a while. The result of this is searching on Wikipedia and various google searches finally after few years completes the process. Like foreign countries, people should be comfortable expressing and talking about the most natural habits of human beings and share it and learn. That’s when society will rise above petty things and grow and give freedom to women.

Our responsibility as members of modern society is to pave the way for a changed mindset in the coming generations about sex education and menstruation to make every individual educated at the right time and an environment where they can discuss these topics without any hesitation. As a guy, it was a bit unusual writing this out. And I’m sure my friend will read this and feel awkward. Well, you shouldn’t. That’s all I have to say.

Lavish Garg

A petroleum Engineer by profession, an avid writer. I like to express my thoughts and try to inspire people from the words, to bring out a positive change.