Finally, its here. The prototype of India’s new sex education manual is ready! It’s all fine and wonderful except for the fact that it talks about everything except sex. That’s right, we now have a neutered sex education manual of little utilitarian value. Its unfortunate to see such an important issue be muddied by politics, religion, prejudices, and irrational conservatism.
Fact: India is fast becoming the global epicenter for AIDS. Fact: HIV is sexually transmitted. Fact: India has a population exceeding 1 Billion. Fact: The rise is India’s population is due to lack to awareness about sex and family planning.
This simply means that an effective sex education component is essential to any solution that attempts to address the issue of population and the AIDS epidemic. But this component has now been rendered ineffective due to the dilution of the content in the proposed sex education manual.
For instance, they “deleted all images and learning modules that states had found too explicit and too graphic”, use of the phrase “sexual intercourse” has been drastically reduced, the flip charts used to explain about HIV/AIDS has been omitted because it was found to be culturally insensitive, and so on.
What surprises me is that no one bothered to ask the question: “What will this manual achieve?” One of biggest reasons for spread of HIV/AIDS is unprotected sex. If there is no focus on sex itself, then what good is this manual? Of course, lets not even talk about homosexuality. The manual cannot contain anything about homosexuality because Indians can never be gay. So much for trying to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS! Whether you like it or not, there is an increasing trend of younger people experimenting with sex, and even being promiscuous. This is trend is not going to change by simply wishing it. The effort has to be to educate the younger crowd about it. Bring the issue out in the open, and teach them to be responsible about it. But, of course, it is culturally insensitive to talk about sex. And so, what we have is a ticking time bomb in our hands.
There are many reasons why India needs an effective sex education programme. Yes, it will mean breaking tradition, it will mean forcing people out of their comfort zone, it will mean confronting some less than desirable truths about your children and your society. But if we do not do it now, we may never be able to! It has taken a lot of lobbying and effort to get the green signal for an sex ed. program. We now have a great opportunity at getting it right the first time. Making amendments later will be very difficult. I am afraid, that by the time the society realizes its folly, it may be too late.