sex ed


This Sexual Assault Awareness Month, attention must be directed not only to the rising ghastliness of sexual violence but also on how sex education can play a monumental role in combating it. 

SEX… Got a little uncomfortable? As I type it out, I can even hear an uncle screaming “Sanskar kahan hai tumhare? (Where are your values?)” Belonging to the country with the second largest population in the world, a rising hub of porn viewing, and being one of the most dangerous with respect to cases of sexual violence, isn’t it ironical that we still treat sex as a hush-hush topic in India? 

Sexual violence is a hideous truth persisting in broad daylight since decades. World Health Organization defines sexual violence as “any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed, against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.” It includes rape and other forms of assault such as sexual harassment, sexual abuse, forced marriage, denial of the right to use contraception, forced abortion, sexual trafficking, and sexual violence by intimate partners through physical force, psychological intimidation, blackmail or threats. While sexual violence can be directed against both men and women, it is largely the women who constitute the ‘prey’ due to the larger functioning of factors such as poverty, power assertion, patriarchy and gender norms, and so on. Such grim is the case that according to National Sexual Violence Resource Centre, chances are you know someone who has been sexually assaulted as by age 18, 1 in 4 girls will be sexually assaulted and 1 in 6 boys will be assaulted. Moreover, in most cases the assaulter is someone who is known to victim. When it comes to India; as recorded by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 415,786 rape cases were reported between 2001 and 2017, which can be averaged to about three women being raped every hour. Taking note of the growing numbers and the hideousness of the crimes, measures like stricter laws, faster trials, and education programmes have been undertaken.  

But sex education is one of the most promising ways to tend to the alarming state of affairs. According to UNESCO (2009), the primary goal of sexuality education is “to equip children and young people with the knowledge, skills and values to make responsible choices about their sexual and social relationships.” In addition to learning about the risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, under sex education, children and young people also learn about the risks of sexual exploitation and abuse so that they can recognize when they are wronged, protect themselves and further be aware of different sources of support. It is usually believed that as sex is natural, so should be the discovery of an individual’s sexuality. Similar to this line of thought, a Rajya Sabha committee chaired by the then BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu (now Vice-President of the nation) had condemned the proposed Adolescent Education Programme (AEP) launched by the Union Education ministry in 2005 “as a cleverly used euphemism whose real objective was to impart sex education in schools and promote promiscuity.” Furthermore, it was stated that sex education prompts instincts pernicious to society; instead their control must be encouraged. The only education related to sexuality that is imparted to youngsters is to maintain a distance from the opposite sex. Additionally, girls are taught that their job is to say ‘no’ by wearing proper clothes, limiting their presence to the private sphere, being sincere and obedient and so on. And, when they ‘fail’, the girls are always blamed. Subsequently, in absence of proper sex education, adolescents grow up ignorant of the changes brought about by puberty and the situation worsens when they learn about them through peers or exposure to explicit content.

Sex education is nothing more than knowing about your body and being prepared for the changes it goes through. It encompasses talks on consent, good/bad touch and helps breaking taboos around genitals, desire and sexuality. Sex education programs that put an emphasis on consent and healthy sexual relationships help reduce the rate of sexual violence amongst young adults. According to a recent study by Columbia University, undergraduate women who took sexual education classes before college were half as likely to be sexually assaulted in college as compared to undergraduate students who received abstinence-only education and saw no reduction in rates of assault. Encouragement is also given to fostering equality in relationships, preventing gender based violence and promoting healthier relationships. 

Sexual violence affects women, men and children, mars their lives, and devastates families and communities. However, sexual education offers an intervention at early stages that leads to building of awakened individuals. Sex and sexuality are sensitive topics but avoiding talking about them increases vulnerability. School and homes provide the suitable environment to open up discussions and countering stigmas. We should not wait to learn about sex and consent until we are sexually active. Sexual education must be treated as any other academic subject and be imparted to children and adults alike by trained personnel who are well versed with the complexities and universality of the subject. So, if ever a child comes to you and asks something related to his/her sexuality, do not brush it off, engage in discussions and you might just save them from the many predators lurking amongst us, disguised as genteel citizens. 

Featured Image Credits: Vox

Ipshika Ghosh

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Sex Education, a comedy-drama series, came out with its second season on the 17th of January, 2020, on Netflix. The new season has shed light upon topics that parents prefer not to talk about with their children.

The show essentially revolves around the life of a teenager, Otis, who goes on to follow the footsteps of his mother, who is a sex therapist. From the partial knowledge he gained from her, Otis starts an underground sex therapy business with Maeve in school. Otis, being a teenager himself, gives ‘expert’ advice to other curious students who are on a quest to explore their sexual identities.

The series became a widely watched show in about no time because the producers have touched upon those issues that people shy away from. Along with the development in its plot, the new season went on to use humour and love to carefully bring forth these issues for the audience.

Sex Education has played a huge role in normalizing homosexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality and asexuality as well. The show may be about a boy but the girls are the ones who stand out. Also, another topic that has been addressed here is unwanted sexual contact. Aimee, a friend of Maeve, gets sexually assaulted on the bus while on her way to school. Aimee, after the incident, gets highly disturbed and refuses to board the bus until Maeve, Lily, Ola, and Olivia decide to accompany her.

The writers of the show also expressed the significance of consent through a few glimpses. By taking the example of Maeve and her mother, the show also took a turn and focused on faulty parenting. Jackson, an extraordinary swimmer, embarks on a new journey to discover where his interests truly lie, after experiencing poor mental health and indulging in self-harm.

Aditi Gutgutia, a student of Lady Shri Ram College, said, “Season 2 had fallen more towards a cliché high school drama and was highly predictable, which was somehow disappointing, but on the other hand, the added depth to some of the characters was admirable.”

The addressed issues in the show needed to be brought forth because they are often overlooked by the people. The writers have done a fairly commendable job by tackling these issues with love.

Image credits- Newsweek

Suhani Malhotra

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The act of making love (or making babies), maybe that’s how we explain the three-letter word that is SEX. Sex, an activity that gives comfort to some and discomfort to some others when talked out loud.


In retrospect, my nimble pre-high school mind was told by a couple of so-called “corrupted” friends that sex is basically, “jab bade log nude hoke pyaar karte hai“. The image of a man and a woman, hugging passionately bare naked and kissing each other. That’s it. Nothing much but still more raunchy than Bollywood songs showing scenes of flower pollination back in the 90s.


Again, I could never think that anyone other than a societal pair of a man and woman would engage in this lovemaking because I of course, didn’t know same-sex couples could exist. It’s a shame that my generation was introduced first to cuss words like “faggot” before terms like LGBTQ.


Anyway, this whole sex thing just sparked a slow-burning fire of curiosity in me, rather than lust or infatuation. Still, that was early childhood, age of being satisfied with whatever my normal happy middle-class life offered me, rather than craving for more. I was happy enough to see a bikini-clad model on a misogynistic page of Delhi Times or a late-night telecast of FTV. I, of course, used to feel guilty about viewing such stuff and being pleased about it.


I used to feel the same guilt after I started masturbating a few years later. Maybe, we all share that guilt at one point or the other. And this is the tale of my normal sexual awakening. I’ve had friends who faced other kinds of guilt. One of my 10th-grade friends felt guilty that he started fantasising about male celebrities just like how the majority of the boys in my class were busy lusting on the female ones. Another of my 10th-grade friends felt guilty on masturbating itself, as she felt masturbation is a taboo for girls.


And such guilts exist mostly when society starts getting prude. It’s this prudeness that we need to remove, in order to normalise sex, sexuality and sex education.


Of course, this does not imply for all the kiddies; they should have their own time and space to explore their body and traditionally, giving sex education might seem like you’re telling them “18+ stuff”. The problem is with this concept itself. Sex education isn’t always “18+ stuff” that’s to be hushed when the kid is young. We are talking about a normal physical activity, not a pornographic fantasy.


Apart from the inner workings of the body, we should all be educated well on how normal an occurrence is sex. In certain societies of this country, we look at sex as something very special and maybe the whole specialness takes away the normalcy. It’s then when sex begins to be seen as something abnormal, a taboo.


These days, the kids are getting smarter and smarter. They won’t be fooled if you tell them that babies fall from the sky or any one of those tales. Before they enter adulthood, they must be educated in bad touch, consent and the very fact that sex is normal.


They’re to be told that it’s normal for any gender to make love with each other. And just like any normal collective decision that we take in our normal life, we need to ask too. You call up someone for a party; you ask him or her. You choose a college course; you ask your parents (although ideally, you should just ask yourself). Similarly, it’s perfectly normal if you want to get productive in this reproductive task but ASK FIRST. And this should be one of the basic tenets of Sex Ed for any layperson.


Consent is something which should be kept in mind even if you are naked with your lover. A friend of mine told me how she knew this man who was having sex with his lady, putting a condom on and then suddenly stopped mid-way, removed the condom and resumed entering her. It shocked me how the chap didn’t even ask his partner before engaging in raw love making. Sex isn’t a one-person act; therefore, just considering the opinions of one person in a sexual union is a real “dick move”.


To put it in a nutshell, educating a youngling on sex focusses less on how to do it but more on what to do before you do it. If sex is something that adults do, then better grow up when you do it. Your bed should be thought of more as a sensual space of consent and being content for making love rather than a set-piece for making hardcore porn.


So, this was my story of how my mind opened up to sex and everything associated with it because you see, it’s not just the reproductive parts that should be involved in this act but also your productive mind!


Featured Image Credits: Salt n Peppa

Shaurya Singh Thapa

[email protected]

An insight into Pratisandhi, a new born organisation fighting long born stigmas around sex

A Google search of the Sanskrit word pratisandhi would tell you that it means ‘a search’. It has several other meanings and sophisticated connotations but in terms of social relevance in this city, Pratisandhi is an active organisation promoting sex education amongst student and the usual prude masses that constitute our Indian society.

The basic virtue driving their work can be better understood through their Instagram bio which reads, ‘Promoting dialogue about issues surrounding sexual health and education in India.’. Recruiting several school and college students as a part of their educational force, it conducts donation drives, awareness events such as open mics, and workshops for different age groups. They educate the masses on several basics of the sex ed which should have been very much a part of our school syllabi, like safe and unsafe touch, general sexual hygiene, and consent.

Tracing back its story, Pratisandhi was founded back in March of the previous year, as an online project to help spread sexual awareness. As the organisation’s social media spokesperson tells us, ‘It helped in discussing things that youngsters often questioned but didn’t have an outlet to find accurate answers to.’ The effort was the brainchild of Niyati Sharma and her gynaecologist mother.

However, with the passage of time, Pratisandhi quickly grew as an on-ground project so as to make such information more viable to people who don’t always have the luxury of questioning what they’re taught. A trip through their social media accounts can show you how Pratisandhi has constantly been on the move of teaching the commandments of sex-ed to children in small schools.

It’s a fresh change to see youngsters involved in such projects as talking and educating about sex should come out in the open instead of being limited to shushed, awkward whispers. Currently, Niyati is involved in designing a curriculum on sexual education which can hopefully be introduced in Indian schools.

It’ll still take time to move over the so-called awkwardness of sex but if organisations like Pratisandhi will keep on working to normalise sex, then the fire of optimism will still burn for the future generations. The hope is still there that we pop the cherry of conservative communities and in that process, devirginise them!

Feature Image Credits – Pratisndhi
Feature Image Caption – Pehchaan, one of the several school workshops organised by Pratisandhi

Shaurya Singh Thapa
[email protected]

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry recently issued an order banning the broadcast of condoms commercials between 6 am in the morning to 10 pm at night, stating that it had received numerous complaints regarding their unpleasant impact on children.

It all started in September when a condom advertisement featuring Sunny Leone invited dissent from a Surat-based group. The ad was displayed on hoardings across the city and carried a message in Gujarati “play but with love” which was shared on social media by the public. City-based group Hindu Yuva Vahini conducted a protest at one of the locations where the advertisement was displayed. Recently, the government strictly asked T.V. channels not to air advertisements selling and promoting condoms because these are “indecent especially for children” and can create “unhealthy practices” among them.

This move by the Centre evoked strong reactions from not only domestic media and companies; but also from the international media.The New York Times laid emphasis on how conservative the society in India is whilst talking about the rampant growth in the country’s population, while BBC News called sex and contraception a taboo in our society. Reuters even reported “India’s decision to ban condom ads on daytime television drew widespread ridicule on Wednesday as a retrograde step that threatened progress on sexual and reproductive health.” The ministry has henceforth clarified that the ban is only on “sexually explicit” ads that are used primarily for P.R purposes. However, that does little to change the current practice in India of labeling anything sex-related as “taboo”.

The need of the hour, especially in our society, is to recognise that promoting the usage of condoms and the practice of safe sex is not the problem, it is rather the way condoms and contraceptives are marketed in India that is severely problematic. In India, condoms are advertised not as a resource of protection from unwanted pregnancies or Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) but exclusively as a means of enhancing the sexual experience. This approach used by the advertisers results in the main essence of the advertisement becoming solely about sex and promoting redundant cosmetic advantages like an assortment of flavours, colours, patterns etc, and not about highlighting the practical advantages that come out of using protection. The very basic and primary functionalities of a condom are uncared for and not showcased in these advertisements.

In a country that hosts a constant rate of increasing population of 1.4 billion people, banning advertisements like these can only do more harm than good. Instead of prohibiting condom ads, the government should make active efforts to change the perception of the general public that heavily lacks sexual awareness. Sex needs to be welcomed by the Indian society as a part of a safe and hearty lifestyle as opposed to it being branded as “indecent” and “unhealthy”.

Feature image credits: Cosmopolitan

Bhavya Banerjee

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