Nirbhaya in December 2012 changed the world that we live in. The outrage, in those days, was so high that it managed to break down a lot of dams that the society had carefully built over centuries. The flood that followed soaked, tumbled and rinsed the whole country pretty much like a fully automated washing machine. As an after effect of the Nirbhaya tragedy, we now have more and more men and women stepping up for women rights. We have Deepika Padukone going to the extent of suggesting that extra marital sex is fine. We have Leslee Udwin trying to show the lack of remorse in the rapist. We have a number of writers, painters, bollywood stars, business leaders talking about women equality. And then we have this…
This is a page from the EVS text book of my 10 year old daughter. She is in the fifth standard. For the first time in her curriculum, she was introduced to different systems in the human body. Right from nervous system, digestive system, excretory system, all the way till the reproductive system. I was helping her learn all these systems and comparing the Text book to her class work book. I realized that her teacher had missed explaining one system to the class. You guessed it – the teacher had forgotten to teach about the reproductive system. I explained the system in simple terms to my daughter. She already knows how babies are formed, so she was able to relate to it.
I was amazed at how could a Science teacher of an international school avoid the subject of Reproduction also knows as Sex, all together? I thought times had changed. I thought Nibhaya had woken us all up. I was wrong. The reality of today still remains that we are not addressing the problem where it needs to be addressed – in our education system. The teacher might argue that children of this tender age need not be exposed to this knowledge. Does she know that puberty for a girl child can start anywhere between 7 to 13 years of age? Given this fact and the fact that with each new generation the average age of achieving puberty is coming down, I think my daughter has every right to know these facts.
Deep inside, I felt the outrage rising again. How in the world, do we expect to address issues on women equality, domestic violence, rape and female infanticide, when we cannot or rather do not even want to talk about human reproductive systems?? For me, all these issues stem from a common root cause – the lack of Sex Education amongst the masses. The hype related to sex, creates these different notions in Men and Women. Notions like Men are more superior than Women. Therefore, Men can treat Women as objects for pleasure or objects for venting frustration. So many children are raped and molested each day, but these children don’t even know that what is happening to them is wrong; that they need to protest and stop it.
For me, all these issues are related. And the solution is very simple, talk about them openly.
- “Sex is not taboo. You don’t have to avoid talking about it.”
- “If you are raped, it is not your fault.”
- “A girl child is equally important in the ecosystem, else the whole balance will collapse.”
- “Women are not objects, they have an equally valuable role to play.”
These are very simple messages, but our society does not want to talk about it. Schools as the primary mode of education for our society, have a very important role to play. It is in these schools that children learn the fundamentals about life through objective, rational facts. If schools cannot handle this responsibility then we really have a very serious problem at hand. If we cannot talk about Sex Education to our children, we will need at least a thousand more Nirbhayas to smack us in our face, before we wake up. Just remember that one of those Nirbhayas could be your own daughter or granddaughter as well.