No sex please. We are Indians!

On his website, our new health Minister has stated that sex education in schools should be BANNED! This of course made headline news! This is part of his 'vision' Document for Delhi schools and is item 5 of section B - Curriculum Development - . It says: So-called "sex education" to be banned. Yoga to be made compulsory. I wonder what so called sex education means. Sex education is Sex education and cannot be called otherwise. It is time we started calling things by their names and not by silly synonym. Before I state my views on the sex bit, and yes I have no problem saying or writing the 3 letters S.E.X. , I was also taken aback by item 8 which defines our new Minister's, who we must remember was a strong contender for the Chief Minister's post of Delhi, 'four pillars of education' namely: patriotism, health care, social consciousness and spirituality. No comments here! But I much prefer Delors's Four Pillars namely: Learning to Know; Learning to Do; Learning to Live Together and Learning to Be. This is what we have been trying to follow at Project Why for more than a decade. There are some pertinent suggestions in his vision paper as well as lacunae but maybe I shall write another blog on the issue. Let us get back to the three letters that need to be banned.

First of all, I would like to tell the Minister that sex education is in no way a Kama Sutra position based education or education about sexual activity. Far from that. It is an education that is meant to protect children from being abused and raped within their homes or when they step outside. There is no guarantee that the little girl lying in the safest haven on earth, or so one would like to believe, her mama's lap, is not likely to be sexually abused by a member of the family or a 'kind' neighbour. And should the perpetrator be a family member then in all likelihood, the same lap may turn against her as family honour takes precedence on a child's pain. These are the values we are taught and as long as they are not rejected, sex education as we understand it, is not only needed but critical. The so called sex education teaches little girls what 'good' and 'bad' touch is and should the touch be 'bad' then it teaches the child to say NO and go and tell her mother or teacher or anyone the child feels safe with. I would like to know our honourable Minister's view on this.

Sex education is above all age appropriate and should start as early as possible, specially in a country where tiny children are raped. What is horrifying is that even babies are raped before one can even begin to warn them. The so called sex education would also address young boys before they turn into potential rapists. Statistics talk for better than words so here are some. A woman - and here we should say a female as rape victims range from of a few months of age to 6 decades and plus - is raped every 22 minutes: that is 65 rapes a day! In 2013 ~ 25 000 rape cases were reported and 24 470 were committed by a relative or a neighbour. That is ~98%. In a country where honour stands on the top of the value range, I cannot begin to imagine how many cases went unreported. And even if they are reported as happened in the case of one of our students aged 6 when she was raped by her neighbour, the perpetrator was convicted and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment and now roams free cleared of all stigmas, whilst the victim was branded and the family had to move. You see it is always the girls' fault. Sex education would address this issue too!

The little girls in the pictures above are all doing what little girls do: one is finishing her ice cream cup, the other is about to open a packet of chips while the one on the left is trying to imitate her brother who loves sitting on this wall. In Delhi today all these little girls are potential sexual abuse victims. The so called sex education teaches them how to protect themselves. I wonder what our Minister has to say to that. The number of unreported cases is alarming: between 70 and 90%. If appropriate sex education is imparted girls will know how to protect themselves. Sex education is about learning to say NO! It is about not going alone with anyone, not being lured by any treat proffered. It is about learning about your body and how it changes. It is about understanding what is age appropriate and what is not. It is about replacing the shame and the 'bad' and 'dirty' tags with normal ones.

Sex education as activists rightly say is also about instilling essential information about conception and contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. It is the role of parents but also teachers more so in a society where parents often shy of doing so.  Yet today more than ever. sex education is needed as children are turn ally sexually mature faster and subjected to an overdose of sexual information thanks to technology and of course the good old TV that is in almost every home. This abundance of information needs to be put in perspective as early as possible. Not having sex education is a folly. Sex education should not be on any agenda but should be considered an essential element of any sane education curriculum.