Here’s why Indian government’s ‘good touch-bad touch’ sex education might not be enough

  • Schools under CBSE and state board will initiate interventions on ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’.
  • “We don’t have age appropriate sex education for young people,” says Nobel prize winner Kailash Satyarthi.
  • “Sex education should not just address possible victims but also probable offenders,” says activist Harish Iyer.

A large section of India’s children are vulnerable to many forms of sex offences. Unfortunately, few of them are aware of these threats and the way to handle them.

Of late, the Indian government is waking up to the importance of sex education. The numbers of cases of child rape went up by 82% to 19,765 in 2016 from the year before, as per National Crime Bureau data.

Smriti Irani, the Minister of Women and Child Development said that schools will soon educate the country’s 430 million children of the ills surrounding them. “All the schools under CBSE and state board will initiate interventions on ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’,” Irani told the Lok Sabha.

Not just about sex but sensitization

Experts feel that sex education in India needs a rapid upgrade. Currently, Indian sex education is relegated to a single lesson in 10th standard where reproduction is explained without details on the act of sex. However, topics like unsafe sex, sexually transmitted diseases and contraceptives are introduced.

“We don’t have age appropriate sex education for young people, where children can learn about their bodies and how to protect their bodies. They should learn this in schools,” Kailash Satyarthi, who won a Nobel prize in 2014 for helping eradicate child labour, told Business Insider India.

Harish Iyer, a Mumbai-based activist and a child abuse survivor whose testimony was read out in the Lok Sabha, believes that sex education should go beyond bad touch and safe sex.

“We should call it sensitivity education where children should be taught about sexuality and sensitize them. We should address probable offenders as well as possible victims,” Iyer told Business Insider India.

Start with the parents

Child activists are also concerned about the ease at which child and other forms of porn are available online.

Satyarthi wants Indian homes to recognize the ill-effects of such exposure. However, few Indian parents have a heart-to-heart chat with their children, and topics like sex are left out of dinner conversations. He believes that parents should be taught about the importance of sex education first.

“This is still a social taboo. Parents and teachers don’t talk to their children on these issues. Youngsters in villages are not exposed to new age consequences. It is easy for a predator to click the picture of an unsuspecting child, modifying it and then blackmail them,” Satyarthi says.

In India, young girls receive some form of sex education from aunts, mothers and grandmothers while boys are left out of the equation. There’s also twist to home-grown sex education — the advice to not have sex at all.

“Sex education should not be about abstinence only. It should include safe sex practices, and parents should educate children about the right age to try sex as well,” says Iyer.

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