|Year : 2015 | Volume
| Issue : 1 | Page : 3-4
Scope of sexuality education: The Indian perspective
Arvind V Athavale
Department of Community Medicine, Chirayu Medical College, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
|Date of Web Publication||8-Jan-2015|
Arvind V Athavale
Department of Community Medicine, Chirayu Medical College, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Athavale AV. Scope of sexuality education: The Indian perspective. Med J DY Patil Univ 2015;8:3-4
With the realization of alarming reproductive health/gender issues in the population and the need to propagate awareness among young generation regarding these issues, the government has tried to implement countrywide sexuality education programs through schools targeting adolescent population in India. After its failed implementation the most controversial Adolescent Education Program in collaboration with UNICEF and NACO in the year 2006; the campaign of sexuality education could not hold its ground firmly in our country.  The topic is still widely debated throughout the country addressing the outcome of sexuality education programs.
Sexual health issues are intensely private and at the same time circumscribed by strict social norms.  Thus, education of masses about such sensitive issues becomes too complex a matter to implement. Hence, of course, the sexuality education campaign needs to be dealt sensibly with exchange of ideas and collaboration with all educational stakeholders. As compared to other affluent countries like USA the societal norms and cultural fabric in our country is much more different as far as the sexuality issues are concerned. In India, the cultural norms mostly are "closed" to the sexuality issues to be discussed in the family or at the school and are considered to be a taboo.  In contrast, in many western countries "openness" is to the extent that by the age of 18, the three-fourths of the boys and half of girls have experienced at least once sexual intercourse with opposite sex.  According to one report, compared to teens in other industrialized countries, American teens aged 15-19 have the highest pregnancy rate.  The effect of globalization and blind following the "open" western culture has a huge impact on our society. Furthermore, there is a growing tendency towards similar sexual behavior of adolescents as reported in few studies from Indian metropolitan cities. ,, Thus, traditional norms and the role of the family are losing their importance in governing young people's sexual behavior in India.
Adolescents experience psychological and bodily changes along with the concept of femininity and masculinity which is rooted firmly in the prevailing societal norms. Thus, there are varied concerns, anxieties and misconceptions related to their bodily changes and gender role. Early initiation of sexual activity puts adolescents at the risk of pregnancy, HIV/sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and many of social and health consequences.  As a measure of prevention of STDs and AIDS it is reported that in many "open" countries distribution of condoms is carried out in schools! Is it a situation in our society? Thus, too "open" and too "close" societies both have their own drawbacks. Cultural "closeness" and absence of well-informed sexuality education program may lead the young generation seeking information on sexual problems from misinformed sources that attract them to the darker side of what could be an important knowledge in their growing days. In most cases, adolescents seek the required information from pornography which hardly throws light on issues like gender equality, marital sexual relationships or even violence or abuse on sexual grounds.  As evidenced in one of the studies among adolescents, a common source of knowledge about sex was friends in three-fourths, pornographic films and books/magazines in around half each of the studied adolescents.  It is imperative that sexuality education programs in India may be implemented considering the prevailing ethical, cultural and social values towards sexual issues. In our country gender disparities are prevalent to the extent that socialization patterns are clearly gendered, with parents far more concerned about the behaviors of their daughters than of their sons. The appropriateness of parental controls imposed on the girl child but not on her brothers.  The imbalance between rearing of the girl and a boy child is needed to be addressed through educational programs. Rather much emphasis should be on removing this bias with targeting adolescent males for "family life education."
There is little information on the prevalence and correlates of sexual abuse in adolescents in India. With the background of gender disparities, the situation becomes grim for the female gender, being most vulnerable for sexual abuse. , In a study among adolescents in schools in Goa sexual abuse and violence is a common experience and is associated with poorer academic performance, poorer mental and physical health, greater substance abuse, poorer parental relationships and higher rates of consensual sexual behaviors.  It is the need of the hour to look at our social construct as a primordial prevention model against "openness" of society and at the same time design a scientifically sound, sensible and adaptable sexuality education program for India that strives to remove the prevalent gender disparities.
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