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A School Teachers Crusade to Promote Sex Education

Madhu Behl, a schoolteacher in Chandigarh, is a woman on a mission to promote sex education, and she hasnt given up her efforts despite facing raised-eyebrows of many offended parents.

Her routine lectures on sex-related topics like masturbation, condoms or homosexuality, have often left several parents complaining about her efforts to educate students about sex at an impressionable age.

Behl says she is doing a social duty and trying to augment the governments efforts to spread sex-education and awareness on HIV/AIDS.

Unmindful of parental hesitation, Behl continues to do her duty, educating students and adolescents about HIV/AIDS. Lately, things have improved.

"Initially, we faced a lot of reservations from parents, but now they are reconciling to this. Now, they realize it should start from their homes. Parents are the best teachers of their children. But they hesitate. We are formally bringing in the parents into our mould (education system)," said Madhu Behl, the headmistress of D.A.V School.

Behl has now been joined by a social organization associated with propagating sex-education.

"Yuv Satta" (Power of Youth), a social organization, is making attempts to propagate education on "healthy and safe sexual life" through dance drama and songs. I want the society to open up on discussions related to sex.

Behl and Yuv Satta activists visit slums, especially to educate women who are at a higher risk of becoming the victims of HIV/AIDS due to lack of awareness and living in poverty.

"We listen to them and tell others also about epidemics like HIV/AIDS. Only precautions can give protection," said Kamla Devi, a slum-dweller.

Various social activists and experts have stressed upon the need to change prudish attitudes so that it could help in fighting HIV/AIDS.

Many children find the classes interesting and quite beneficial.
"It is very beneficial because children normally don't know about these things. It creates awareness among children which is really important," said Ritika, a student.

Many State governments like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have raised concern over sex-education classes in public schools. They find the teaching modules to be too explicit, and some pictures as too graphic for secondary students.

States like Kerala and Karnataka too are contemplating a ban on sex-education.

According to the World Health Organisation, about 86 per cent of the HIV infections in India occur due to sexual intercourse, one key reason being the migrant workers visiting prostitutes at various places, and then infecting their wives at home.

Proponents of the ban on sex-education have objected to sex-education being imparted to students.

Many parents feel sex-education should not become pornographic-education.


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