Published on October 30, 2019 | Uncategorized| Unheard avenues
Sex Education In India
Sex Education In India
In India, Sex Education is one topic that can fetch you a few frowns and glances at the very mention of this term – This is true for even the well-educated, liberal urban folks.
The internet boom has made a wide plethora of information easily available on any topic and the information around the sexual intimacy of men and women is no exception. Add to this, the growing tendencies of 21st-century children to Google any question or topic on the internet. So, that raises two pertinent questions:
- Is it possible to keep things under wraps in today’s age?
- Is it worth keeping things under wraps as the damages from the hush mentality far outweigh the benefits of proper, balanced education on sexual health?
Current State of Sexual Health
The currently prevailing sexual abuse of the children led UNICEF to conduct a collaborated study that can help in devising a plan to improve the lives of children and adolescents in India and around the world. Sexual abuse of children and adults, is prevalent at homes, schools, offices and streets alike. Adolescents are easy targets and are subjected to abuse in a variety of forms ranging from rape, fondling, kissing, sodomy, and exposure to pornographic materials.
The study threw up some interesting insights over the years, some of which are mentioned as follows:
- India has over 2.3 million people over 15 years, affected with HIV/AIDS infection
- 42 percent of girls under the age of 19 face sexual violence in India
- Almost 1.5 million girls are married in India even before they turn 18
- About 45% of men and 28% of women have strong knowledge about HIV/AIDS and its prevention
- 8% of all surveyed unmarried women are not aware of even a single means of contraception
- 62% of rural women mother at least one kid when they have barely turned the corner as a child themselves
The need for Sex Education in India
The above statistics only scratch the surface of the problem, as according to UNICEF, it was very difficult to get deeper insights and data due to the social taboo around sexual discussion in India and South Asia.
But still, it presents an overarching need for a concerted policy-driven initiative that aims to provide the basic information underlying the formation of sexual relationships, consensual and non-consensual sexual experiences, safe sex practices and the paradigms of sexual violence. The role of media is also required to be studied, and shaped towards building a responsible information dissemination platform for a healthy sexual and reproductive health. There is a need to ensure programs that provide apt information covering the basics of sexual education, healthy sexual well-being, and family planning, in a sensitive and non-threatening manner.
The key factors that together drive the need for a well-programmed effective policy for sexual education include
- Prevalence of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- High Maternal Mortality rates in India
- Unwanted Pregnancies
- Female reproductive health and hygiene
- Lack of knowledge on menstrual well-being
- Highly prevalent cases of sexual abuse in society
- Lack of appropriate education around proper vs improper sexual relationships
Types of Sex Education
Technically, sex education is a structured program to educate and inform young individuals about sex, sexual health, and sexual rights in an appropriate manner. The sex education programs can be primarily categorized into
- Sex education for Adolescents
India is a young economy and continues to grow at a fast rate a far as younger demographics are concerned. With such a fast-growing youth population, it is imperative that sex education for adolescents is an important part of the overall sexual education program for the country. There are approximately 190 million adolescents in India out of which almost 28-32% are illiterate. This demographic is the one that has the least access to knowledge around healthy reproductive health, types of sexual abuse prevalent in the society, processes that can help the adolescents to discuss the issues with their closed ones and the corrective steps required to overcome a problem.
- Family planning programs
A woman’s ability to choose if and when to become pregnant has a direct impact on her health and well-being. It also impacts the well-being of the whole family including the health of a new-born child. Family planning programs concerns the dissemination of information around best practices for family planning, reproductive health, number of children, reducing risks of pregnancies, timing and spacing of pregnancies. Such programs help in reducing the number of deaths of mothers at the time of childbirth, reduce child mortality rate, and also help build a happier family as smaller families allow parents to invest more time and money in the development of their child.
- Preventive sexual health programs
This revolves around the best practices to prevent unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and appropriate information dissemination to young individuals to take responsibility for their sexual well-being. According to a 2008 survey conducted in South Delhi, an elite society in the national capital, 71% of girls in class 11th & 12th had no knowledge about the effects of genital herpes & around 28% were unaware that gonorrhea was a sexually transmitted disease. The situation in tier-2, tier-3 towns and rural areas is much worse and outlines a grave need for preventive programs.
The potential career opportunities that can be explored in this space are discussed below:
Sexual Health Trainers & Therapists
Sex therapists are qualified healthcare professionals who have done extra training in helping an individual with sexual problems. Sexual problems are prevalent in society – few reach out to therapists for help while others struggle with the problems themselves. But with the growing awareness and widening of the socially acceptable norms, there is a growing scope now, for such counselors and therapists. Sex therapists help patients on a wide range of problems ranging from emotional to physical factors impacting sexual health.
Public Health Administrators & Policy Makers
Professionals with a Sex Education Certificate are also eligible for roles in public health administration and policy-making bodies to improve the physical and mental well-being of citizens, apart from developing training programs for students and adults. Some of the institutions and government programs/bodies which recruit for these roles are the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, GOI Adolescent Education Program, Adolescence Reproductive and Sexual Health Education and National Institute of Health & Family Welfare to name a few.
Counsellors & Consultants
There is a growing need for counselors or consultants who can help out individuals to improve their sexual health with their diagnosis, correct advice, and emotional well-being of an individual. Nowadays, a lot of roles have also opened up at different medical institutions in the therapy and counseling departments to aid patient diagnosis and recovery. Certification programs and short term courses can help you get the required certificate to become a sex education counselor.
Reproductive health specialist
A reproductive health specialist is in charge of planning and implementing reproductive health programs in communities that lack these necessary services. Many reproductive health specialists work in public schools or on college campuses in collaboration with groups such as Planned Parenthood.
Sex education in India is the need of the hour and the country needs trained professionals who can help the society deal with problems at the grass-root level as well as help broaden the opinion of the public to deal with the issues than brush them aside under social taboo.