‘Sex education for youth can dispel several myths’

Crimes like rape and molestation have witnessed almost a three-fold increase in Mumbai since 2010-11 raising questions over safety of women, children and senior citizens, according to a survey conducted by a city-based NGO, Praja Foundation.
In light of this survey, Chitra Sawant spoke to Dr Sanjay Deshpande, Consultant Sexologist and Vice Chairperson, Council of Sex Education and Parenthood International on rape, sexuality and safety of women.
Q: Does suppression of sexual urge in a person compel him to force his desires on others?
A: Not necessarily, not every man devoid of sexual pleasure is a rapist. Basically rape is a masculine expression of power in a violent way. In order to draw sexual pleasure, it is important that both the partners must be interested and ready for sex. Many a times a woman is trapped under pressure for sexual relations from a man holding an important position and when the woman resists, the pressure rape occurs. Hence, women should resist the sexual advances of such men immediately at the very first instance.
Q: How would you define sexuality? Are youngsters open toward the topics of sex and sexuality?
A: Sexuality is a set of reaction associated with being a man or woman. Youngsters are very open to the subject of sex and sexuality but unfortunately in our society talking about sex is taboo and hence they can’t ask their concerns regarding their own sexuality. This leads to myths and misconceptions regarding sexuality. In India, very few persons are trained in sexuality education, counselling and therapy.
Q:  Has indulgence by youths in pre-marital sexual relationships become common among college youth in cities?
A: Yes, youth are active in such relationships, not only in cities, but in small towns and villages as well. Adolescents and youngster need to understand that indulging in premarital sex is not wrong but can be dangerous. Especially girls should understand that they may be exploited in sexual relations. Keeping themselves safe from STDs, pregnancy and HIV/ AIDS is their responsibility. Before indulging in sex with their friend or lover they should correctly assess his commitment towards the relationship. Also he should not exploit her anytime in life. Youngsters should be responsible about their sexual involvement.
Q: What kind of education should be provided to the youth?
A: Rape or sexual violence is being inflicted on women, girls and boys as well. Hence, women and children need to be protected by society. Prevention of rape is not an easy process. For avoiding sexual assault, a woman needs to be always conscious about her safety. Going alone or with strangers at secluded places should be avoided. The society also needs to be vigilant when they find a woman targeted or surrounded by suspicious people. Citizens can also protect women in danger provided they are alert. Parents should be alert that child sexual offences are mostly committed by those who are known to the children. Parents should listen to children if they are complaining of some relative or known person. Children never lie about sexual abuse.
Q: Does gender segregation harm overall development of an individual?
A: Not necessarily, but involvement with the opposite gender will help in making males gender friendly by giving them proper sexual education and inculcating good attitudes regarding gender equality by which violence against women can be prevented.
Q: How does impact of morality and concept of chastity affect young girls? In what way are they affecting their overall growth and development?
A; Girls are not affected by the age-old concepts of morality and chastity. Many of these girls are open to sex with their boyfriends, however, most assume they will end up marrying their partners. But if the relation does not last, it can pose psychological problems like depression in these girls.
Q: Since youngsters get married late, in such cases does non-indulgence in sexual activity lead to any physical problems among youths? Does it affect their creativity and efficiency?
A: No. Indulgence in sex before marriage is choice of an individual and if one stays with his/ her decision on staying away from sex, they can.
Q; What would you say on harassment by the moral police? What should the government do in this matter?
A: Harassing is not a right way of changing the behaviour of youngster. Youngsters should be educated about the consequences of their sexual behaviour before they indulge in it so that they can decide whether they should involve in sexual activity or not. They should be free to choose.
Q: Sex is perceived as an outcome of love. Should love be the only criteria to indulge in a sexual relationship?
A: How can love be assessed by the girls? Involvement in sex can pose dangers of sexually transmitted diseases as well as unwanted pregnancy. They should see the commitment of the boys with their abilities to lead a happy future life.
Q: Do people coming from lower economic background have fewer opportunities and avenues to come together with their partners?
A; No, they also have same opportunities.
Q: Single women are often target of criticism wherein they are labelled frustrated..
A: In India, due to gender discrimination, single woman is not respected properly by the society. It is not necessary that they are frustrated. Being single does not always mean they are sexually unsatisfied. In fact, a single woman if given proper respect in the society can live her life more independently and happily compared to single men. A woman is self sufficient. Frustration of single women may be due to society’s discrimination with them.