Experts for Clearing Myths About Sex Education
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27 February 2011
National Youth Policy
`Sex Education is mor about knowing your own body. For example, for a woman to know what should or should not be done during pregnancy... Sex education wi help to untrain and then train afresh people with beliefs in many myths relating to their reproductive system'
AS the National Youth Policy 2010 awaits a rollout, people, who were concerned with the consultations held in the state ahead of drafting the policy, remember a long–drawn debate – sex education.
One of the points that youths from 11 states had discussed during the three–day consultation held last year was education on and access to facilities relating to the reproductive sciences, such as condoms, contraceptives and literature.
While the policy’s first draft was circulated recently for comments and the Ministry of Youth Affairs is assumed to be preparing the final draft of the policy, some persons are busy discussing a worldview that affects one of such recommendations.
Indu Kapoor, head of CHETNA, which had hosted the consultations, said health education in general was difficult because it would require three ministries –health, human resources development and youth affairs –to collaborate.
Heath ministry because of pregnancy and family planning and sexually transmitted diseases, HRD ministry because of education and the youth affairs ministry because it is the one drafting the policy, she said. But apart from that, the other concern is something that goes beyond institutions of governance and administration –it's a mindset. "Many people are not comfortable with the policy thinking that sex education might increase sexual acts," said Kapoor.
Pallavi Patel, her colleague who was behind organising that consultation, recalled the event and said that access to contraceptives for youth was one of the things that the 70–odd youths had discussed.
However, in the first draft, focus is on safe sex in context of HIV/AIDS, but access to contraceptives has not been mentioned. Patel said that such points, as also the monitoring of the policy's implementation by youth itself, have been sent as comments on the first draft.
Maya Sharma, of the Vikalp Women's Group in Vadodara, said that one of the main misconceptions about sex education is the word "sex", which is "considered taboo, a dirty word" and with which many myths are associated.
"Sex Education is more about knowing your own body. For example, for a woman to know what should or should not be done during pregnancy, that irregular periods should be a matter of concern, and that anemia is a product of malnutrition and not her bad blood," said Sharma, adding, "Sex education will help to untrain and then train afresh people with beliefs in many myths relating to their reproductive system."