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When ignorance is not bliss

How much fun is sex when school kids, unaware of pitfalls of unprotected sex, go on the romp, asks Vijaya Sharma.
PTI | By INDIA DIARY | Vijaya Sharma
UPDATED ON APR 19, 2004 09:08 PM IST
sang popstar George Michael famously in the 80s. But how much fun can it be when school students who are not fully aware of the pitfalls of unprotected sex go on the romp? The reality is brought alive in a startling survey conducted recently in Delhi and Mumbai by Modicare foundation.

The survey says that  22 per cent of students in private schools and 32.5 in Govt schools admitted that their contemporaries had had sex.

The fascination with sex is the strongest is when the hormones are kicking in and the ignorance about sex is what makes the matter alarming. Sex is still a issue under wraps in most Indian homes. Among students of private schools, 44 per cent found it difficult to discuss these issues, while 62.5 per cent of their government school counterparts were hesitant about approaching their parents.

As high as an average of around 35 per cent of students believed that one instance of unprotected sex cannot lead to pregnancy and again around 30 per cent thought that it was the mother who was responsible in determining the sex of the child.

TV & films turn on the heat

Mallika & Himanshu in a scene from the movie Khwaish

The invasion of unbridled, sexually explicit images on the television from the cable television and music videos at home and magazines is as responsible for children exploring sex at an early age as is the lack of sex education in schools and the absence of a heart-to-heart talk with elders at home, making the forbidden fruit so, so attractive.



Recent movies like

Jism, Paap, Khwaish

and

Murder

have certainly turned the heat on. Coupled with it are statements from glamour gals such as Celina Jaitley and Mallika Sherawat. Sherawat says she is dedicated to appearing on screen in less and less, committed to do more sexually explicit scenes on screen, enjoys turning on the men, and wants the crowds at the film shows to throw coins on the screen whenever she appears. These brash stars of today say that they have brought sexuality out into the open in a sexually repressed society like India and are proud of it.



Their take: Why should I not wear a plunging neckline or a rising hemline, if I want to and look good in it.

And their stance finds reflection in changing campus fashions and attitudes. A student of the Lingaya's Institute of Management & Technology says: "I have to be more like Bipasha Basu if I want to keep my man interested."

Another student says: "Today I have a far more intimate relationship with my boyfriend than a couple of years ago. He watched girls do all kind of things in Hollywood movies but knew it was out-of-bounds for us." But with mainstream Bollywood stars now portraying a have-it flaunt it attitude, the "all kinds of things" of Hollywood movies has come home and is hence, seen as more acceptable in real life too.

This is not to say that sex in Hindi movies has come in only through movies such as Jism, Tum, Paap, Khwaish or Murder. Hindi films had their share of C-grade sleaze. They still do. Children do watch XXX rated films on videos or in stolen trips to the theatres. But these films never got the kind of mileage in family read print magazines or on TV channels (new and entertainment channels) in endless interviews of their stars and clippings of the films, that the Jism's and Murders do. The C-grade movies were just not a part of mainstream Bollywood cinema unlike these movies.

When ignorance is not bliss
While there is nothing wrong in having sex out of the closet or its display in magazines or TV, the problem lies in the absence of a corresponding rise in sex education in schools, sex counselling for the children or openness in talking about it in homes. Adults can handle the bombardment and sift the pros and cons of the sexplosion but young and impressionable minds cannot. Therein lies the danger.

India is the second largest country with HIV positive patients and is poised to become the largest. It could also be the largest as there is no exact data or statistics to show the exact number of HIV infected people. There is a huge possibility that the available statistics have not taken into account many number of cases just because the data collectors don't know the cases exist.

A major factor which has led to the rise in HIV/AIDS cases is unprotected sex and the ignorance in dealing with AIDS once a person tests postive for it. So one infected person passes on the virus to others and the chain keeps growing.

So when the survey points out that though awareness of HIV/AIDS was high, the general level of understanding of issues concerning sex and sexual health was abysmal, does it scare you. It terrifies me.

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