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Youth demand sex education in schools

Aarti Dhar

Denial of it amounts to rights violation, says group


Young people can negotiate high-risk situations

Neither an issue of culture nor morality


HYDERABAD: A youth group on Wednesday raised its voice against the denial of sex education by State governments.

It claimed that the denial had violated their right to information, education and health and breached India’s international commitments under the U.N. treaties and declaration.

Youth Coalition, a group of 32 young people from across the world, said the youth needed comprehensive sex education so that they were empowered to make informed decisions relating to their bodies without fear, shame or guilt.

The group met at the Fourth Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Right here.

Given the right information and skills, young people can negotiate high-risk situations more effectively and reduce their vulnerability to violence, HIV and substance abuse.

Talking to reporters, the Coalition members said it often happened that the youth were ignored during any dialogue on sex education. Arguments based on culture or morality such as those made by Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chauhan were invalid and did not justify denying young people the information and skills they needed and were entitled to.

Comprehensive sex education did not corrupt young minds but that the lack of information led young people to access false, incomplete and harmful information, Prateek Suman of the Youth Coalition said. “We want the conference to send out a strong message that it is the young people who want sex education and are protesting ban on it,” Mr. Suman said.

“When girls can get married at a young age, have sex within marriage and produce children, why are they denied the right information on the subject? There should be scope for negotiation to bridge the gap between the generations over this matter,” Ipshita Chowdhury of Youth Parliament said.

She said that it was neither an issue of culture nor morality but a critical matter that affected the health of millions of young people who would indulge in sex anyway with or without formal education and information.

In Bali, sex education is integrated with other subjects such as biology and is not taught as a separate subject. It, nevertheless, serves the purpose, a member from Bali, said. The three-day conference that concluded on Wednesday saw people from the Asia Pacific countries express their views on the issue of reproductive and sexual health and women’s rights.

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