The hush-hush around the word ‘sex’ in India constrains sex education in schools – which has devastating results, like the Bois Locker Room, perhaps without our knowledge. The two may seem far off from each other. However, it’s easy to connect to the dots once we break it down into smaller bits.
What is sex education like in India?
In Western countries, it’s quite common for parents to at least introduce the concept of intercourse to their children. Following that, sex ed classes expand further on menstruation, intercourse, and contraception. Oftentimes, especially in Catholic schools, teachers focus on abstinence over all other topics.
In India, it is quite similar. Abstinence is central to sex ed classes. Besides that, only the biological concept of menstruation, intercourse, and pregnancy is taught to students. Then comes information on STDs and STIs. However, this is assuming these classes happen. Sometimes, schools – or teachers – decide to skip the topic altogether. Students, if not teachers too, feel uncomfortable discussing sexual intercourse as it is a taboo in households, and this stops students from asking questions.
As a result, many teenagers rely on the internet for answers, and they may not always be able to find the right information.
Consent – a glossed-out necessity
The main problem with sex education is that it misses a key concept entirely: consent. Despite it being as simple as teaching that only a clear ‘yes’ is the green signal, no class ever covers this.
As aforementioned, teens tend to look for answers on the internet. Consent isn’t one of their queries as they lack knowledge of the word itself. This essentially makes them believe that it isn’t a requirement. Moreover, adolescents who watch or read pornographic material do not see consent that happens before the creation of the content. Thus, they believe one can proceed to intercourse without it.
Also, Indian tradition says girls are to remain ‘pure’ until the time of marriage but for boys, sexual behaviour goes unchecked. From catcalling as teens to unwanted physical touches as men, all behaviour falls under the ‘boys will be boys’ line. Therefore, they often end up truly believing that consent is not necessary. Even from a young age, boys feel entitled to sex because they were never taught in any manner that without consent, sex is is just rape.
But consent makes all the difference between pleasant flirting and uncomfortable harassment, or enjoyable sex and unjustifiable rape. Absence of consent is what led to the Bois Locker Room: from one person to another who did not believe consent was necessary, photos shared between the teenage boys. They did not think it was wrong, because they never learnt it that way.
What can change in sexual education classes?
There should be one entire session on consent. and how it is necessary for everything, from texting anything sexual, to intercourse itself (teachers can could even begin by saying that something as simple as a hug should be consensual too!). Students need to know what boundaries are, and that crossing them requires permission from another person. Otherwise, it is invasion and it is immoral. It’s already normalised – the biggest indicator of it being the under-reporting of sexual violence.
In fact, even teenagers should also know the consequences of committing the crime, whether it’s online or physical. Since online harassment has become rather normalised, younger people need to know that it is still a crime. From sextortion to rape threats, there are consequences one must face. The Bois Locker Room was extremely significant here as the cops worked to arrest multiple people – showing that it was no small crime, regardless of age.
Sex education without consent is what leads to Bois Locker Room. Sex education with consent is what can lead to a safer India and a safer world.
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