Sex: this three-letter word is an enigma to many in India. It is something that parents and children ‘must never discuss’. And if you accidentally make any sexual reference in front of your elders, be ready to be accused of obscenity. Do it, but don’t discuss it.
In fact, it seems like a majority of parents are still living in denial, and do not want to accept that their kids are probably engaging in sexual activities more often than they can imagine!
Why Talk About Sex?
Due to the overall attitude of our society towards the topic of sex, young adults know so little about it. Let’s be honest — how many of us are taught about the birds and the bees early on in life?
This leads to a situation where lakhs of young Indian couples having sex don’t know enough about the things they should, including safe sex. So where do they gather information from? The internet, television, and pornography, which is almost always an unrealistic and skewed projection of sex.
Needless to say, this is very harmful for young adults. Sex education needs to be imparted in school itself, given the high rate of crimes against children in India.
According to Madhavi Jadhav, “Children are exposed to a great deal of information about sex through television, movies, internet, etc. It leads to the risk of them interpreting what they see as an accurate depiction of the act.
“Young males and females are curious to know about sex, periods, condoms and other topics. But discussing these things is still a taboo. Parents get scandalised when children bring up this topic (but) they can choose to initiate the conversation at home.”
Madhavi is a young MIT Pune graduate, a TedX speaker and entrepreneur, who has founded ThatMate — a platform offering information on sex-related topics and mental illness. Their latest offering is a comic book that aims to educate children about sex and sexual issues.
ThatMate has online as well as offline presence, and they’ve collaborated with 10 schools and more than 2,000 students through workshops and other means. They have also worked with NGOs like Pune Nirmiti and Rotary Club to reach out to students in the Municipal schools of Pune.
Sexual Awareness & Young India
Sex awareness continues to be out of bounds for millennials as well.
Having little — or worse — incorrect knowledge about sex could translate to violent sexual behaviour, unprotected intercourse, and in many cases, sexual misconduct in young adults. It’s also important to know about sex to be able to protect oneself from abuse at any age.
As India has the largest population of sexually-active millennials, we are in a dire need of a safe space, where these topics can be discussed without judgement. Thanks to the internet, there have been some really good initiatives recently that have tried to address this issue.
Pappu and Papa, a video series by Yfilms, took a step in that direction. It demystified topics like masturbation, periods and condoms in a simple, funny way.
Even with such initiatives, discussions about sex and sexual health elicit uncomfortable reactions in our society today.
Communication is Key
So what can we, as millennials, do to create more awareness about sex and also support sexual diversity? “I believe communication is key — communication between parents and children, and students and teachers,” says Madhavi.
“The reasons for sex being a taboo is complete absence of communication. The emotional problems that arise after losing virginity at a young age, or having multiple partners, need to be dealt with patiently. Millennials should also verify the information they get from different sources, and be a better judge themselves to differentiate the right from the wrong,” she points out.
What changes would you like to see with regards to sex education and sexual health? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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