Sex education among children is almost non-existent in India. Talking openly about sex is considered to be a taboo in the country which acts as a barrier in delivering this knowledge effectively to Indian children and adolescents. However, it is overlooked not only by the society but also by the Indian healthcare system.
Nearly one fifth of the world’s population comprises of adolescents. India has the largest adolescent population which accounts to 243 million people making them 25 per cent of the country’s population. Sex education is crucial for this demographic as they go through a lot of physiological, emotional and behavioural development changes during this stage.
Adolescents in the age group of 15-24 years contribute to 31 per cent of AIDS population in India. Only 19 per cent girls and 35 per cent boys in the country have comprehensive knowledge of HIV and AIDS. Apart from that, incidents of sexual abuse, violence and physical abuse are increasing rapidly among the adolescents. According to a study on child abuse in India conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, 53 per cent boys and 47 per cent girls surveyed have faced some sort of sexual abuse. Therefore, family life education (FLE) might help this young vulnerable population of the country to be aware about their sexual rights and empower them to protect themselves from any undesired acts of violence, sexual abuse and molestation.
In addition to this, experts have said that adolescents gain more general life skills such as communication, listening, decision making, negotiation and learning to ask for through sex education. It also helps them to identify trustworthy sources for advice such as parents, care givers and professionals through family, community and health and welfare services.
Owing to the cultural stigma, there have been strong objections about provision of sex education in schools. This is has caused six states of India including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka to ban it from the school curriculum.
Despite this, there is an adolescent FLE program proposed by National AIDS Control Organisation and the Ministry of Human Resources and Development in the Indian curriculum. The program includes education about Human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, reproductive health, rights and responsibilities, emotional relations, contraception and other aspects of human sexual and non sexual behaviour. Provision of this program might result in multiple benefits to the adolescents including delayed initiation of sexual activities, family planning, reduced risks of abuse and recourse to abortion, greater completion of education and curb in STDs.
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The CSR Journal Team