Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Sex Education

A horrendous tale of two minors who were abused in a children's welfare home in the Kathmandu valley recently must have made all people to think about the need of basic sex education in school level curriculum. The trauma that the minors had undergone through is just an example. Surely, there are similar or worse cases happening around the country every day. This bitter reality makes one feel should we have the trend to discuss about sex in healthy manner perhaps we could save many children from such abuses.

'Sex' is still a taboo word in our society. Talking about sexual matters is considered totally immoral in our culture. However these days the teenagers are not ignorant about sex by an influence of television or the Internet. When a child hears about Dhal (condom) or Gulab ckakki (birth control pills) through radio or television commercials and tries to inquire further, the elders deliberately evade the subject. Even though every grown-up child knows about sex in one or another way, s/he is not allowed to talk about it openly. But keeping mum is also not a solution.

Scanning through the daily newspapers published within a week, one can find a number of news reports about sexual abuses particularly happened to girls. Mainly teachers, friends, relatives, custodians and employers are found to be involved in such assaults. The number of the victims might be higher as many cases are not reported fearing public insult. It is seen that females become the victims of sexual harassment in almost all cases.

Home could be the first school to learn about sex that would eventually help reduce sex-related diseases and crimes as well. Parents can play a vital role to save their children from misleading. The cases of sexual abuses will certainly come down if parents regard it as an important responsibility to discuss about sex and sexuality openly with their children. It is said that the western parents advise their young children to take precautions to be safe from inevitable and unwanted disasters which will certainly be followed by unsafe sexual relationships.

In a country like Nepal, such advice may sound unusual. But it would be more rewarding to give lessons about sex from early ages than to face detrimental results in future. At least mothers and female teachers should specially be supportive to teenage girls to resolve their hidden curiosity. They should tell them what social or religious beliefs we possess regarding sex and the issues related to it. They should encourage the girls to discuss frankly what sexual problems they are facing. Then they should give them suggestions about what to do to get rid of those problems, instead of scolding, threatening or beating them up - the common strategies being used so far. If mothers and teachers are understanding and friendly, they can certainly protect children from various types of sex abuses.

These days AIDS has become an epidemic throughout the world and Nepal is not an exception. HIV infection rate is increasing at an alarming rate. It is estimated that there are about 60,000 HIV positive cases in Nepal. It is needless to say that this is mostly happening because of ignorance and in the lack of correct information. Therefore, there must be an access of sex education to every teenage child.

Sex education in general is a process of acquiring information and forming attitudes and beliefs about sex, sexual identity, relationships and intimacy. It is a widely accepted view that children have a right to sex education at an appropriate age, partly because it is a means by which they are helped to protect themselves against sexual abuse, exploitation, unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Thus, sex education should not be misinterpreted that it encourages young children to have sex freely. Some people are concerned that providing information about sex and sexuality to adolescent children arouses curiosity in them and this can lead to sexual experimentation. On the contrary, there are many cases that because of too much strictness sometimes immature children make wrong decisions.

If young children know about all pros and cons of sex they will be alert. They will be able to identify what is good or what is bad for them, by themselves. Since they are more intelligent and thoughtful than what adults think of them.

Sex education therefore should be welcomed to our society without any question or doubt. All the concerned people must have positive attitude towards it because it is fruitful to get right information at right time. Effective sex education can help children develop important skills, such as to recognize pressures from the people with ill intention and to resist them strongly. Similarly, they will be capable of dealing with prejudices or even challenging them if they need to. They will not hesitate to seek help from adults when it is necessary. Furthermore, it also helps equip them with the skills to be able to differentiate between accurate and inaccurate information and to discuss a range of moral and social issues or perspectives on sex and sexuality. In addition, sex education serves to promote better sanitation and hygiene and helps generate public awareness associated to lead a healthy life.

(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Wednesday, July 28, 2004)

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I would appreciate any and all suggestions on making improvements (as long as they are viable).