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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Sex education is defined as a broad program that aims to build a strong foundation for lifelong sexual health by acquiring information and attitudes, beliefs and values about one's identity, relationships, and intimacy. Sexual health is considered to be a state of physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity as defined by the WHO. Primarily, during adolescence 10—19 years its provision is a crucial preventative tool, as it is the opportune time when young people experience developmental changes in their physiology and behavior as they enter adulthood.
The importance of delivery of sex education in a timely fashion to this ificant demographic is emphasized by current statistics that show that almost one in every fifth person on the globe is an adolescent. These figures indicate the importance of specifically addressing the healthcare needs of this considerable demographic, particularly for the developing countries such as India. Therefore, meeting the needs of such a vulnerable group and overcoming existing shortcomings in the delivery of tailored primary preventative measures would ificantly improve the survival and general health conditions, nutritional status, and sexual and reproductive health of the future Indian adult population.
The sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents[ 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 ] in India are currently overlooked or are not understood by the Indian healthcare system. This could be owing to the lack of knowledge of scientific evidence along with the gross unpreparedness of the public health system. Healthcare professionals often lack the knowledge themselves that impacts upon imparting information to the adolescent population who seek it.
Often comprehensive sexual histories are not taken, and sexual health is not openly discussed due to cultural and traditional norms in society. Incorrect information has the potential to create misunderstanding in the youth making them less likely to adopt healthy practices and attitudes toward sex enabling them to maintain lifelong sexual health.
In addition, the skills, adolescents develop from sexuality education are linked to more general life-skills, such as communication, listening, decision-making, negotiation and learning to ask for, and identify sources of help and advice such as parents, care givers, and professionals through the family, community, and health and welfare services.
They are taught to recognize situations in which they are pressurized by others and how to resist and deal with these, along with challenging long-standing prejudices they are faced in day to day life. Public discussion of topics of a sexual nature are widely considered as taboo in the Indian society, therefore acting as a barrier to delivery of adequate and effective sexual education to Indian adolescents. Sex education at school level has attracted strong objections and apprehension from all areas of the society, including parents, teachers, and politicians, with its provision banned in six states which include Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Karnataka.
Some opponents argue that sex education has no place in a country such as India with its rich cultural traditions and ethos. These views lie at the heart of the traditional Indian psyche and will need to be approached tentatively with psychological insight when challenged. Expertise from healthcare professionals along with patience and time will be required in order to bring about what is likely to be a gradual change in the existing conservative attitudes. Proponents argue that these conservative views are outdated in a fast modernizing society such as India, with an ever-growing adolescent population adopting rapidly evolving attitudes toward sex.
Mass media has had a highly influential, yet mixed impact, on the Indian way of life. By helping bring sexual topics into discussions through the powerful mediums of television, radio, and the internet, it has allowed recognition of the urgent need to address the misinformed or uninformed youth.
They were left to resort to information they gather from books, magazines, youth counselors, and through pornography, with its increasing accessibility in recent times. This applies to a quarter of India's young people who indulge in premarital sex. A recent study states cable television is associated with a ificant decrease in the reported acceptability of domestic violence toward women and a general increase in women's autonomy, potentially through increased participation of women in household decision-making.
India can also stand to reap such benefits from wide-spread implementation of the similar program, especially with data to suggest a strong willingness and receptiveness of adolescents, particularly females to being properly educated in this area. The long-standing tradition in which girls are married very early, especially in rural areas, often to men much older gives rise to many pregnancy-related problems.
The risk of maternal mortality among adolescent mothers stands twice as high that of mothers aged 25—39 years. Education about family planning, conception, and contraception could ameliorate the situation and give the young women the opportunity to make their own informed decisions. Only the relatively mature unmarried women 20—24 years residing in urban areas with more than 10 years of education, engaged in nonmanual occupation, and coming from better-off families had higher prevalence of perceived importance of and receiving FLE than others. This includes information about the spread of the disease, contraception, and sexual health screening tests.
In this way, well-deed school sex education can help combat the culture of ignorance, hesitation, shame, and fear associated with the disease in the community, from which the disease is born. This can only be achieved by scrapping away deep rooted and widely accepted misconceptions and speculations. Prevalence of sexual abuse, violence, and physical abuse are increasing among the adolescence and are increasingly co-occurring with substance abuse. The nongovernmental organization NGO , Nari Raksha Samiti, had submitted that sexuality education in school curricula could play a role in addressing the rise of rape cases in India.
Adolescents find themselves at a vulnerable stage of their lives where influences of peer pressure can be conducive to socially unacceptable and perhaps even criminal group behavior. The rapidly emerging rape culture among youth needs to be addressed and stopped at the earliest possible instance. This requires concentrated efforts not only from institutions and organizations, but also from individuals as members of that society, as sexual offenders often have mental health and psychosocial risk factors that incite, maintain, and perpetuate the offence.
This can be achieved through education about sex and drugs and teaching the use of ethical and moral principles to govern their actions, in order to discourage ambiguity and the development of careless, unhealthy, and potentially dangerous attitudes. The recent revision to the WAS Declaration of Sexual Rights emphasizes the need at statement 10 - The right to education and the right to comprehensive sexuality education that everyone has the right to education and to comprehensive sexuality education.
Comprehensive sexuality education must be age appropriate, scientifically accurate, culturally competent, and grounded in human rights, gender equality, and a positive approach to sexuality and pleasure www. According to the United Nations Human Rights Council Report by not providing sex education, this violates the human rights of Indian adolescents and young people as recognized under international law. To develop emotionally stable children and adolescents who feel sufficiently secure and adequate to make decisions regarding their conduct without being carried away by their emotions.
To provide sound knowledge not only of the physical aspects of sex behavior but also its psychological and sociological aspects, so that sexual experience will be viewed as a part of the total personality of the individual.
To develop attitudes and standards of conduct that will ensure that young people and adults will determine their sexual and other behavior by considering its long-range effects on their own personal development, the good of other individuals, and welfare of society as a whole. More specifically, the program includes but is not limited to the following topics: Human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, reproductive health, reproductive rights and responsibilities, emotional relations, contraception, and other aspects of human sexual and nonsexual behavior.
backlash with regards to the provision of sex education in schools has meant that a conservative approach has been adopted. Talking about reproductive and sexual health issues TARSHI , a NGO in New Delhi argues after review of the material covered in this new curriculum, that it is lacking components that are essential to comprehensive sexuality education.
People of all ages call the confidential helpline seeking information about sexual anatomy and physiology, counseling and referrals regarding sexuality and reproductive health issues. It suggests that the curriculum imposes beliefs and values on young people that prevent them from clarifying their own beliefs and values and discourages them from making their own decisions.
The subjects which seem to be ill-addressed by the current curriculum include puberty and the body, conception and contraception, healthy relationships and communication, gender identity, body image, and HIV prevention. This, in a way, suggests that the curriculum and the method of teaching should be context- specific and culturally sensitive. A closer look at the demographic profile of the TARSHI helpline callers demonstrates that calls come from married individuals more so than unmarried individuals.
This illustrates how queries do not only arise as a result of teenage experimentation, but sexuality information is also needed for those who are older and have spouses and careers and children. Myths regarding sexuality issues, even among the elderly and educated people, can be illustrated though looking at popular columns in the Indian newspapers, such as Dr. Mahendra Watsa's column in Mumbai Mirror. This existing lack of knowledge can also be rectified for the long-term through improving provision of sex education in schools, youth clubs, and government programs.
Another way of targeting the adult population in addition to the youth is through proactive training of general practitioners and other health professionals to impart crucial knowledge at a primary care level that evidently a considerable proportion of the Indian adult population lacks. Provision of FLE might result in multiple benefits to the adolescent boys and girls including delayed initiation of sexual activity, a reduction in unplanned and early pregnancies and their associated complications, fewer unwanted children, reduced risks of sexual abuse, greater completion of education and later marriages, reduced recourse to abortion and the consequences of unsafe abortion, and a curb of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV.
Balance between the eagerness and ambitious proposals of NGO's to implement varied sexuality education in schools and the restrictive approach of the politicians needs to be achieved to ensure that the process of imparting sex education to stakeholders is well measured and less controversial. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List Indian J Psychiatry v. Indian J Psychiatry. Shajahan Ismail , Ashika Shajahan , 1 T. Sathyanarayana Rao , 2 and Kevan Wylie 3. Sathyanarayana Rao. Author information Copyright and information Disclaimer. Address for correspondence: Dr.
E-mail: moc. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Conflicts of interest There are no conflicts of interest. Geneva: WHO; Defining sexual health. The sexual and reproductive health of younger adolescents research issues in developing countries: Background paper for a consultation. World Health Organization. Measuring sexual health: Conceptual and practical considerations.
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Chapter Gender, Sex, and Sexuality