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Tainted Love; The Shameful Story of Indian Sex Education

By Byronkhiangte - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38570931

condoms promise safe sex, but safest sex is through faithfulness to one’s partner.

This gentleman—Harsh Vardhan—now Minister of Science and Technology, was the Health Minister then. He was invited to a function to promote AIDS awareness—and according to National Aids Control Organisation head V.K. Subburaj, “The minister thought we were promoting illegal activities through condoms.

Harsh Vardhan would go on to state bluntly that condoms were for “vulnerable groups” and not for those with “morals,” those who “we will tell them, ‘be faithful.’” He’s at it again—and so crude are his statements that a cabinet reshuffle had to be called for and a new Health Minister appointed.

And what did he say?

So-called “sex education” (should) to be banned. 

Yeah! Those are the words of Dr. Harsh Vardhan, then Health Minister of India, a world leader in AIDS and other sexually transmitted disease. Several states, mostly BJP ruled—Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Goa—have declared that the course content “as suggested” is “unacceptable” and that it “corrupted the youth and offended Indian values.

320px-Sunny_Leone_1

Hmmm! Nothing to learn here! Picture courtesy Sunny Leone via Wikimedia Commons

Says G.L.R, an Iowa graduate who is now back in India and living and working as an agriculturalist.

Let’s be frank! We live in a society where a man is permitted to pull his penis out in public, to wag it around as women, young at that, pass by. And there is no shame to it!

According to him, the very thought, the ability and practice to identify sexual symbols, what might and should offend, has to be ingrained at a young age.

Without sex education I’m not sure we can reach our potential as a country—especially for women. Take Sania Mirza—the lack of free discourse on sexual topics festers—by calling the pussy a taboo, we glorify it—the skirt can always be an inch longer! It doesn’t matter that she’s won 3 of the 4 grand slams last year—just that her skirt was short enough to grab the headlines.

And what about the Unicef report? Almost every second girl born in India will be married before the age of 18. Add to that, the number 28.5%—that’s the number of women who report having given birth to a child before the age of 18.

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That’s where we ought to be— with a government that outsources sex-ed to NGO’s, with a deference of responsibility, that’s exactly where I thought we’d be.

Ask a schoolteacher, Ms. Selvi (name changed to protect her identity) fires back,

It’s a lot easier when you actually don’t do the talking. You have to understand—the educators who offer to visit the school—they ask the question, and we spend the year answering them. It’s easy for them—and still easier for those who write the columns blaming schools. But understand—we are governed by a board that has just told us to teach yoga—and we are doing it! We do as we are told—and do it to the best of our abilities. Also—it is embarrassing—we are not raised in a culture that embraces sex—to speak about, it take away the seriousness teacher want to be associated with. As a teacher I could never bring myself to talk about sex without talking about love—and wouldn’t that take a lifetime to explain!

Ask the teacher if Plato would have thought so when setting up the Academia, and she responds coolly, quoting Whitehead,

the entire history of western civilisation is but a footnote to Plato. I don’t think I am, or for that matter, anyone in my school is trying to be Plato. We are doing our best—or what we think best.

And when I tell Tarun, the teacher’s son, my classmate, a new father, what his mother told me, he says,

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Yeah! It makes sense—it helps justify how I had no shame in walking up to her when I was 29 and asking her to find me a bride. In misplacing our sensibilities—we’ve become a society with too many closed doors.

And is there a way out—especially when teachers can get away with not aspiring to be Plato? He chuckles as he replies.

No, remember that in Stalinist Russia—a maths or science professor only had to furnish proof that he was offered a salary higher than he was graded-to while teaching to receive a raise. It starts there—with having the elite at the desk. The smartest Indians emigrate (it seems). The so-so’s line up at campus recruitments to get into an tech. What’s left? Those who want to be teachers—the ones who stumbled past the pass line. Those are the people you are trying to make a Plato out of.

Indian sex education standards have always been abysmal. Most schools don’t teach it, and the ones that do, still don’t teach it; they teach what is loosely described as moral science in its stead. Actual sex is never spoken about, but abstinence from “love and other distractions” is constantly drilled into the heads of kids.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi seen with Minister for Education Smriti Irani. The two people who can address this problem if they cared to. Picture courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Minister for Education Smriti Irani. They could address this problem if they cared to. Picture courtesy Narendra Modi via Wikimedia Commons.

The present BJP-led government in India had promised many education reforms before getting voted in, but instead, one of their earliest actions upon coming into power was to ban over 800 porn sites. The ridiculous ban was eventually lifted, but many feel the new government’s disinterest with putting in some sort of sex education instruction is linked to their desire to gloss over sex as a whole.

When asked if the whole situation with Indian sex education was linked with a continued attempt of the BJP-led government to ban porn in India, Annachi (not his actual name), a local politician, powerbroker, and lover of porn had a very terrifyingly telling response.

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Yes! Unlike other countries—getting whipped by women, or being tied down and raped are not the fantasies here. Sex itself is—mostly because its been forbidden. It was a big reason why I hung out with politicians when I was young—it gave me access to women who would fuck me. Before that—all my energy was invested in the shame I felt, and tried to hide, when I wanted a woman and could not bring myself to approach her—you see, for me, that was everything, to be a man above shame, to not cower. Porn was the liberation at that point! You have to understand—take my daughter—she has a boyfriend—I am not complaining—I know the boy, he’s my caste—I am fine—she’s going to do what she’s going to do—I don’t want to control her, so much as I want to control the environment in which I allow her to act freely—ensure that the mistakes, if she makes some, can be managed. And—if I did anything less would she listen? She knows what I’ve been up to—I put her in the best school—I am the education, the template—so I let her be. And I make sure my wife talks to her—she probably tells her not to trust men! But see—Indian sex education—it is not just the question of porn—but also of the treatment of women. The more hallowed you make sex—the more you forbid it—the more likely men will operate on women in situations. Take politics—all of us—we came from nothing—I could never have turned a white woman—you understand! It will become like that everywhere. If sex is hidden in whispers—how can someone like me not scream about it! I would do it just to prove to people that I can. 

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