Age appropriate sex education could help reduce crimes against women in India
It takes little effort to figure out exactly how grim the situation is in India for its female residents. From the infamous but unforgotten Delhi gangrape in 2012 to more recent reports of sexual violence against women, the need for a solution and rights-based approach to ending violence grows more urgent each day. To add to the problem, some states in India have banned sex education, with reasons for the ban ranging from the potential to “encourage sexual activity between young people” to the apparent “corruption” which will occur in young minds. Age appropriate sex education is one of many rights based processes, which could actually educate people in a manner, which will serve the purpose of sensitizing rather than corrupting a young person.
The Indian states of Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka are among those who refused to implement a sex education curriculum, which was introduced in 2007. Claiming that “this type of education” was anti-national in nature, and offended Indian culture, ministers from the states condemned the attempt to educate and empower students.
The fact that one of these states, Madhya Pradesh, has the highest number of reported rape cases in the country seems to be a clear indicator of the need for intervention and awareness for its population. A look at the National Crime Records Bureau shows that from a total of 3406 reported cases, 1573 victims are between the ages of 18-30, and 10% were women below the age of 14.
Age appropriate sex education is being taught in some private schools in the country, and is growing in popularity in the state of Tamil Nadu, thanks to cooperation between NGO’s and the state government. It involves teaching sex education to students based on their age group, i.e. different levels of awareness are taught, first on a basic level for very young students, which later progresses to more direct use of anatomical terms etc.
Considering how young some perpetrators of sexual violence are, it is safe to assume that at least some of them could be discouraged from carrying out such heinous acts through correct guidance and education. At present it appears that their actions are being somewhat facilitated through the propagation of archaic social values which prefer victim blaming and shaming to actual solutions and strategies to prevent violent acts. Rehabilitation and psychosocial counseling for those who have committed acts of abuse are few and far between, and the costs involved in seeking such help means that close to 70% of the uneducated, impoverished masses in India do not have access to treatment.
The issue is grave, and solutions seem few and far between, if at all. Lack of education and sensitization within India, coupled with a general preference for denying the existence of sexual violence has made life for women difficult. By sharing accurate information in an age appropriate manner, it will be possible to not only reduce the incidents of sexual violence against women in India, but will also serve the purpose of removing the shroud of shame and silence which makes healing a difficult task for survivors. In due time, it is hoped, India will awaken from its self-imposed silence on violence.