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'Sex Is Not A Dirty Word': Top College Holds Sex-Ed Class For Hundreds After Kerala High Court's Remarks On Consent

The source for many youngsters' sex education is porn rather than a medically accurate and reality-based understanding of sexuality. To change these misconceptions, a top college in Kerala recently held a sex-ed session for hundreds of students.

Regardless of society claiming to be living in progressive times, a good share of the population still stigmatises talks surrounding sex and sexual health. At such a time when talking openly about sex is believed to be a taboo, hundreds of students at a University College in Thiruvananthapuram show that talking about sex is a part of their well-being and their right.

The recent event was organised by the National Service Scheme (NSS) of the college in collaboration with Vvox (a sexual health platform backed by certified sexologists from India and the United States.) The session comes a little over a week after Kerala High Court's observation that boys should not touch a girl/woman without explicit consent.

Establishing Healthy Channels To Understand Sex

"Why is consent so important in sex?" a second-year BA student asked during the sexuality education programme held in campus. A simple question that reflects many students' thoughts is, "what is consent, and why should it be practised?" The 19-year-old voiced this thought by wanting to know if there is anything wrong with being honest about his sexual feelings towards a girl. Responding to this genuine query on consent, sexuality educator and founder of Vvox, Sangeeth Sebastian, conveyed that it is important to ensure that the other person is comfortable with their sexual advances in the first place. This would help avoid any unpleasant situations or feelings. Explaining the same, he stated, "Whether your feelings will make someone else uncomfortable or not is something which you cannot control." 

Talking about the need for such a session, the NSS programme officer Sheeba said that most youngsters take internet porn as their de facto sex education. Learning about sex from porn gives a distorted and exaggerated idea about sex, making it even more important to educate the younger generation with medically accurate sex education. Supporting this idea, Sebastian conveyed, "Nearly 80 per cent of sexual difficulties can be addressed easily without any medication or medical intervention if one has the right information." 

The sex-ed session titled 'Eat, Play, Love, Responsibly' explored these ideas and helped students understand the link between food and fitness on sexual health. The campaign module, vetted by a team of top doctors from India and the US, aids students in understanding sexuality through a healthy channel.

'Sex Is Not A Dirty Word' 

The session was held in collaboration with multiple gender sensitisation, hate-speech fighting platforms and a Thiruvananthapuram-based restaurant to provide medically accurate, scientific, and reality-based sexuality education on campuses. With the session concluding successfully, Sebastian conveyed that he hopes to expand the campaign to campuses across the state in the coming months. 

One of the event's highlights was the high participation of female students. Among the many topics discussed during the two-and-a-half-hour-long session included masturbation, pornography, virginity, and the importance of eating right for sexual health. A report by NDTV quoted a final-year political science student, Thapasaya, saying that the session helped them clarify the many myths and misconceptions surrounding sex. She stated, "Sex is not a dirty word, but an integral part of an individual's healthy living." Many other students shared the same view and felt that the session connected well with the current generation, who have never had formal sex education in their schooling. Another student was cited as saying, "Today, I learned that there is nothing to be ashamed about sex. It's something that should be understood with responsibility and respect." 

Toward A Gender And Sex Positive Society

The sex education session at the University College is being organised at a time when a significant section of Kerala society has voiced against the government's bid to introduce gender-neutral uniforms, mixed seating in schools, or even have students sit together at the bus stop. Many prominent leaders revolted against the idea of having gender-neutral initiatives and teaching students about sexuality. Added to this is the rise in sexual harassment cases in society.

Following the cue, the Kerala High Court observed that good behaviour and etiquette lessons should be part of the curriculum right from the primary school level. The court noted that boys should be taught what consent means and that the phrase "no" means "no." The observation had come as a response to a plea challenging order of the Internal Complaints Committee and the order passed by the Principal of a College in connection with a harassment matter. The court underlined that showing respect and honour towards a woman is always a virtue.

Also Read: Sexuality, Sex Education, Consent: Swati Jagdish Explains What Kids Must Know!

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Writer : Laxmi Mohan Kumar
Editor : Shiva Chaudhary
Creatives : Laxmi Mohan Kumar