Our MLAs, our ministers need sex education first

VINUTHA MALLYA writes: And once again our ‘rich culture’ has become the figleaf for the lack of political will to implement something useful for society. This time they are catching them young and the victims are school children.

If you thought Amitabh Bachchan was taking India to a regressive low, think again.

The people who should have the vision are making speeches that should have us up in arms, but alas, we fall for cheap rhetoric. Everything we don’t want to do can be pinned down to our glorious “culture”.

Our culture is so ‘rich’ and we are the stellar examples of a model civilization, are we not?

The honourable chief minister of Karnataka and his equally honourable colleague in the cabinet, the education minister, have decreed that sex education is only required in the West. And since we have such a “rich culture” (whatever that means—that Vatsayana wrote Kama Sutra?) we do not need to be educated on matters concerning sex.

Thus the buck has been firmly and effortlessly passed by this government—and indeed several others like Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra—to the Centre.

Among the reasons cited in various newspapers, H.D. Kumaraswamy has used phrases like “sex education does not go well with our country’s culture and traditions”, and that sex education will be perceived as “anti-culture” and “anti-social”.

This statement come on the heels of recent surveys on child abuse in India, and specifically the alarming levels of abuse in Karnataka, which is nearly at the top of the national AIDS totempole.

In a country where teenage pregnancies are not uncommon (the unofficial statistic is one out of every three teenage girls) and child marriages are still rampant in some parts, to say that “sex education is only for the West, we are OK, thank you”, should make the thinking population sit down and cry.

Cry at the foolishness of these men in power, cry at the short sightedness of the policy-making machinery, and cry because, like the chief minister says, “we are not a foreign country”.

I wish we were—a foreign country, that is.

At least then we would be realistic, at least then we would be practical, at least then we would actually have the interest of our young children at heart, and not simply pursue political brownie points.

Since the chief minister never felt the need for his teenage son to be introduced to the birds and bees, I wonder where his son picked up what he needed to know.

Hotel Empire, maybe?

With schools being told not to open the book, let us look at the choice on the table for Indian teenagers: pornographic films, mindless soft porn in mainstream cinema, recollections of touching and fondling by an elderly relative in early childhood, and Playboy magazines, to name a few.

Somewhere in all this, the teenager can surely learn the lesson that a girl cannot get pregnant by kissing alone, that she has a right to say “no” to a sexual advance, that there is a difference between a good touch and a bad touch, and that the violator is the guilty one and not the violated.

I am certain that one of these sources is teaching our young teenaged children that although sex looks like a ‘hot’ pleasurable activity to indulge in, it comes with responsibilities.

I suppose the chief minister’s son went through the awkward years when the hormones were jangling in his body knowing all the answers about what was happening to him and why.

But I wonder if the son who has brought him such glory in the recent past, has turned out to be the example of a well rounded personality on the basis of the right information being made available to him at the right time.

The only way perhaps is to force all legislators and parliamentarians to undergo a compulsory course on sex education. Let us start with the adults. They need it more.