“One of the girls in my relatives got periods, her mother didn’t tell her in details, instead she told her all the don’ts- like don’t talk to your father about it, don’t touch something etc. The girl was suffered severe depression because she thought she is suffering from some illness and her mother is not taking her to doctor as she is a girl so it doesn’t even matter if she dies. It took lot of time for her to recover from depression” one of the participants shared.
The main objective of the second day of the workshop was capacity building of the teachers so that they can implement sexuality education in their classrooms. However, that requires the teachers to acknowledge and understand the need of sexuality education.
In the first activity, the participants were divided into 6 groups where they were given one statement each, which they need to discuss in their groups and share their points with larger circle. These statements are commonly used against the implementation of the sex-ed in classrooms.
Sexuality education is completely against our culture-
“If this is true, then what about Khajurao, Krishana and Radha love story, the glorious description of Rashlila, Kunti having son with Lord Sun- this has been part of our culture since beginning”
“The lack of awareness leads to more harm, there was this 12 years old who saw her parents having sex. Primarily in India, parents let their children sleep in their rooms and engage in sex assuming that their kids are deep asleep. So, she had sex with someone out of curiosity and this came to notice only when she got pregnant”
“When I was young, there was this famous song so I was singing this song- hai mera pao bhari hogaya. Hearing this song, my mom got furious and told me never to sing this song in front of brothers. I came to know that it means getting pregnant. After months later, my aunt told me that your feet seems heavy, I freaked out- for 3-4 continuous days I was holed in my own room staring at my feet and stomach, constantly thinking that I didn’t do anything so how can I get pregnant”
“I read a story in newspaper, where a girl committed suicide because she was depressed. It was all due to the fact that she had periods”
This group shared a number of stories on how adolescent girls suffers trauma due to lack of awareness around periods which causes fear and panic. They also brought out the impact of media as to how they glorify sex and physical intimacy without any filter. The group concluded to the fact that sexuality education is need of the hour and it is absolutely not against Indian culture, however the information should be delivered age appropriate and with sensitivity.
Giving students this kind of information is like giving them a green signal to experiment.
“If the adolescents are not aware, then they wouldn’t know if they are victims of sexual abuse”
“Its human nature to be curious and defying so when things are hidden, the kids will try different ways to gather information and that would result in experimentation”
“If the adolescent is aware about the issues and outcomes of his/her action then they can choose their course of action, there would be consent”
“This should be included and integrated as part of curriculum hence normalizing the otherwise tabooed topics”
“We have studied in biology, how vaccines are produced from the source of illness (microbes!)- so they are nothing but poison! So when it is given at minimal doses every day, increasing the dose at regular intervals, the body becomes tolerant towards the poison thereby developing resistance towards the disease. In the same way, sexuality education should be imparted- if we bombard adolescents with entire information- it won’t be helpful however if we provide this information right from the beginning then they will be more responsible to take their decisions”
All these things doesn’t happen in my school/class
“That’s not true, irrespective of spaces or school or age, this is a wide range phenomenon, kids at very young age comes to know about periods, condoms and sex”
“The awareness is needed for the protection and safety of students”
“the teachers are like bridge between parents and children, so if they are more conscious in giving information, than things could be managed”
“With this awareness, the students will be freer to share both good and bad experiences”
“Adolescence is like a state of hurricane, where everything is displaced, chaotic, there are lot of changes in terms of physical, social, psychological and sexual so if in this state they get a harbor which could be their parents or teachers, they would be able to deal with the situation in more sensible way”
Why do you use the word “Sex” in education? Why can’t it be called by another name?
“There is no need to replace the word, it should be used frequently so as to challenge the taboo around it. If we don’t use this word than that indicates that there is something wrong with it- like it shouldn’t be said hence creating a wrong impression”
“So, students will still try to find the meaning or essence of it, if it is not used publicly”
“Also when sex is associated with education it actually implies the necessity to understand the word”
Teachers are already overburdened with work without having this extra subject to teach
There is no denying factor that the above statement is very true however this group had some of the most important points that indicates the importance of Sex education
“It is the need of the hour considering how crime rates are increasing, so it should be given equal importance as any other subjects”
“Children during this stage of life are struggling, this is real life situations, they have curiosities and questions and I think that’s what education if for”
“Half-baked knowledge is dangerous so it’s important to impart age appropriate knowledge”
“It’s also needed to reduce sex related diseases, sexual offences, for awareness and for better decision making”
What will parents of my students say if they hear about the kinds of things being discussed in a sexuality class?
“I feel sometimes students are treated as football, teachers say that the parents should take the responsibility and many a times parents throw their responsibility over the teachers. Interestingly no one of this works”
“I think parents do think that this is an important issue, and many a times they don’t know how to talk to kids about sex so they won’t really mind if teachers impart sex-ed”
This activity brought out some real life experiences from the lives of the participants as they are not just teachers but also parents.
To conglomerate the need of the sexuality education we engaged with the participants on the issues of adolescence giving them an opportunity to reflect on their experiences while they were adolescents!
The session began with good things and bad things of growing up- the participants shared that the rising confidence, freedom, the urge to look beautiful by using make up or dress up and being attracted to opposite gender was good things about growing up however there was discomfort about physical changes, agitation towards parents, more reliability towards peers, confusion were few bad things about growing up.
They also shared how the chapter of reproduction was always skipped, and if they were supposed to study- they would sit alone, hide somewhere to read it
About menstruation- none of the participants knew about periods before they had it- also when they had first periods they were bombarded with do’s and don’ts like don’t go to puja ghar, don’t talk to boys, don’t even touch them, don’t touch pickle etc, but nobody actually explained them what periods are actually!
One of the participants shared a very beautiful story where her mother never posed any restriction on her during periods but rest of the friends always talked about these don’ts. She had taken part in race during sports day, and that very day she had periods. She was scared and was contemplating whether to take part or not. When she asked her mother, she told her to take part in race irrespective of the situation. She gathered the courage, ran and won the race, this small incident not only boosted her confidence but busted all the myths about periods.
There were lots of experiences shared on the topic of Peer Pressure-
“My mother used to heavily oil my hairs, makes two braids and insisted me to wear long skirt in the school. I used to see that all my friends had boys eyeing them. So I convinced my mom not to oil my hairs and on reaching school, I used to fold my skirt. This worked and I saw boys noticing me”
“I used to have long hairs. There was this program in my school so all my friends decided to have short hairs and matching clothes. My mother would have killed me if I get a haircut but I couldn’t say no to my friends. So I convinced my sister to cut my hairs in home late at night so that mom won’t come to know. My mom used to teach in the same school, she saw me and confronted me- I just put the blame entirely on my sister”
It was interesting to see how teachers actually reflected on their adolescent years and correlated with the current situation of their students. This discussion once again emphasized that due to lack of information- they were very clueless at many times, hence they don’t want to put their students through the same misery!