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Good bye to sex ed in India?

April 20, 2009
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In India, a Parliamentary committee has called pre-marital sex “immoral, unethical, and unhealthy.” They are urging the government to withdraw an adolescent sex ed program just introduced into schools last year, saying sex ed will corrupt India’s youth and lead to single-parent families.  GASP.  Even if that were true, which it’s not, why is that a reason to undermine the education of an entire generation?

India is relatively progressive in its sexual and reproductive health policies across the board, but removing sex ed from school curricula would be a regression for certain.  Already, there’s a marked dissonance between the law and the practice on the ground.  For instance, child marriage is illegal but still practiced widely.  And while abortion is legal almost without exception, unsafe abortion is still a leading cause of maternal death among women.

What probably is corrupting India’s youth is seeing a woman being burned with hot oil, or a girl being married off at 12 to a 35-year old stranger without any recourse, and thinking that’s okay.

Thus, it’s critical that young Indians, and especially young women, have access to scientifically-accurate information about their rights, their bodies, and the risks they may one day take.  Persisting gender inequalities are the root of many evils here.  Not to mention that India has one of the highest caseloads of HIV/AIDS in the world.  And they’re not all IV drug users.  So anyone who thinks that Indians aren’t having at least some sex outside of marriage is blind to the reality.  With a booming economy, a growing middle class, and numerous exemplary advancements in health and technology, access to comprehensive education is a must.

J.Mack is a global feminist residing in Brooklyn.

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