“so called sex education should be banned in schools”
Last week, Dr. Harsh Vardhan was criticised by many when he said he wanted to see “a change in the way the government promotes awareness of HIV/AIDS, with more emphasis on promoting the integrity of the sexual relationship between husband and wife rather than on the use of condoms”. He later rejected the news reports, saying that his statement was misunderstood by people.
In the same week, the news media created another controversy. Reporters discovered that his website says “Yoga should be made compulsory and ‘so called’ sex-education in schools should be banned”. Many educators, public health activists and mental health experts condemned this statement. “Sex education is needed to obstruct unhealthy conditions and inappropriate probable behaviour of the generation,” said Dr Harish Shetty, senior psychiatrist at Dr.LH Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, Maharashtra.
After getting a lot of negative reactions, Dr. Harsh Vardhan tried once again to clarify his position on sex education by saying he was just against the present form of sex education imparted to students in Indian schools.”Crudity and graphic representation of culturally objectionable symbols as manifested in the UPA’s [the UPA was the former governing coalition] so-called sex education programme cannot be called sex education. Every education system must strive to have an ideal curriculum and to that extent my stand is valid. Sex education that builds societies free of gender discrimination, teenage pregnancy, HIV-AIDS proliferation, pornography addiction, etc. should be the goal,” he said
This is not the first time sex education has been controversial, as the Times of India pointed out. A scheme for an adolescent education programme in the school curriculum was promoted by NACO and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), which led to a major controversy in 2007. As a fallout of this controversy, several Indian states including Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Goa declared that the course content suggested by MHRD was unacceptable and thus banned the programme.
A reporter who is not normally friendly to the BJP or Dr Vardhan told HII that the website content is old and related to an earlier campaign to become Chief Minister of the state. Dr Vardhan also appeared simply to be toeing the national BJP policy on this issue. “I think it’s a non-story,” added the reporter.