This one word had been a taboo in my house for almost two decades. My parents wouldn’t even utter the word, forget talking about it.
So my brother and I grew up with similar mindsets. For a large part of our childhood, we assumed that anyone who had sex would get AIDS unless they married a ‘nice person’ (i.e.: virgin).
And that’s not all. The lack of open conversation about sex at home also gave me…
A Skewed Understanding of Pregnancy
If I told you that a 15-year-old didn’t know how babies were made, would you believe me?
Well, you have to. Because that was me, about ten years ago.
My parents told me that women get pregnant when they sleep with their husbands (i.e.: just lying beside one another in bed). Then they're taken to the hospital, and God comes and places the baby beside the mom. Tada!
What happens to the mother's protruding belly? Well, God just deflates it.
I legitimately believed this until I attended sex ed classes at school. I can’t explain how betrayed I felt when I was sitting there in that class, listening to my teacher telling me things that I should have known by then.
Complete Misconceptions About Oral Sex
During one of those sex ed classes, we were given a couple of hours to prepare a list of questions.
My friends decided to ask about oral sex. Until then, all of us believed that oral sex = talking dirty.
When the teacher explained what it actually meant, I thought she was out of her mind. I felt scandalized. My face was hot and red. I wanted to throw up.
I’ll be honest here. I felt that way because my parents were the first couple that came to my mind when oral sex was first explained to me. It's every child's nightmare! It felt disgusting.
I came back home and told my mom what happened, and then refused to eat the whole day.
It Taught Me That No Marriage Means No Sex
I grew up thinking that I had to get married to have sex, thanks to my parents.
No touching before that.
My mom once caught me watching Julie. and I got a moral science lecture.
I was told that Julie is a bad girl and that I should forget about her as soon as possible.
So instead, I started watching those regressive television shows and films where a woman’s virginity was treated as holy. I aspired to be one of them for a long time and my parents were completely cool with that. Pre-marital sex paap for me. I judged girls who even held their boyfriends’ hands.
A Mind Full of Wrong Ideas
When I got older, and realized that my parents weren't going to talk to me about sex, I decided to explore the exotic topic on my own.
I used to subscribe to India Today, and when I was at the beginning of my exploration phase, one of their issues ran a cover story on sex in India.
I hid it amongst an old pile of magazines and read it only when my parents went out. But I was left with nothing but disappointment. The story didn't explain sex at all! All it had were premarital sex stats and information on teenage pregnancies.
I read it so many times, hoping to find some steamy stories that would help me understand “how to do sex”, but I found nothing except a couple of semi-nude pics. It was so frustrating.
But, because I was so afraid, I didn’t end up having unprotected sex with someone to satiate my raging hormones. I was lucky, my fear held me back from becoming another teenage pregnancy case statistic.
But, how far can luck go in protecting us?
According to Firstpost, there has been a 144% rise in abortion among under-15 teenage girls in Mumbai.
A report filed by the UN in 2013 stated that every year, almost 4 million teenagers in India have babies.
Recently, the HRD Ministry asked a panel of experts to remove the word ‘sexual’ from a sex education policy. The paragraph containing “the s-word” has been condensed into the following sentence: “The Adolescent Education Programme and National Population Education Programme need to be extended to all schools as early as possible.”
And this is being done because, apparently, the word ‘sexual’ may offend some people. Who these people are, we have no idea.
Clearly, the government isn’t planning to talk about the ‘real stuff’ with kids. This means that it's on you, parents. You need to start educating your children so that they don’t have to go to misleading sources when they're trying to understand their bodies and desires.
And if you can’t do it, you need to approach their school and ensure that they're conducting proper sex education classes and seminars for their students.
Maybe my parents were too shy to discuss sex with me, or maybe they thought that I wouldn't indulge in it if it was premarital, so they didn’t see any point in talking about it.
And I’m sure a lot of parents think similarly.
But all that that resulted in, for me, was a complete lack of knowledge about condoms or STDs until I was 15. In hindsight, I can see how dangerous it could have been for me.
If you want to keep your children safe, you've got to do away with the taboo around sex. There's no other way to make sure that they're being responsible about it. Sexual health is as important as any other health concern, and the sooner your kids understand that, the better.