If you believe that today’s youngsters are well-informed and don’t need sex education, consider this: More than 40 per cent of unmarried women (age 15 to 24) in Maharashtra don’t know about condoms and 72 per cent are clueless about emergency contraceptive pills, a survey has found.
On an average, 30 per cent of unmarried Indian women don’t know about condoms, the survey revealed.
While the lack of awareness may not have been a concern two decades ago, it spells trouble considering past studies have established that Indians are becoming sexually active at a younger age. The survey — the third District Level Household Survey (DLHS) — was commissioned by the Union Health Ministry to assess the current state of reproductive, maternal and child health across the country.
In Maharashtra, more than 37,600 households were surveyed between May and October 2008. A detailed report will be published soon.
Researchers found that while more than 75 per cent of women (married and unmarried) in the state knew about HIV/AIDS, nearly 73 per cent women had not even heard of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Mumbai women were as ignorant — 70 per cent of them had not heard of STIs and barely 37 per cent knew that consistent use of condoms could protect one against HIV.
Worse, 18.7 per cent of married women in the state had symptoms of the infections. And, awareness levels were higher at the time of the second DLHS in 2002-4 when only 62.5 per cent women had not heard of STIs.
“The findings show that government programmes have succeeded in creating awareness about HIV/AIDS but not about other risks of irresponsible sexual behaviour,” said Dr Balram Paswan from the International Institute for Population Sciences, which conducted the survey.