Empowering adulthood through sex education
- Part 2 -

Dr Ashwini Sirapanasetty Karache *

2. Values, Rights, Culture & Sexuality:

Values and Sexuality -Values and attitudes imparted to us by families and communities are sources of what we learn about sex and sexuality, and influence our personal behaviour and decision-making. It is important to know one's own values, beliefs and attitudes, in order to adopt sexual Behaviours those are consistent with them.

As children grow up, they develop their own values which may differ from their parents/guardians. Human Rights and Sexuality-There are local and/or national laws and international agreements that address human rights that impact sexual and reproductive health. Culture, Society and Sexuality-Culture, religion and society influence our understanding of sexuality.

Social, cultural and religious factors influence what is considered acceptable and unacceptable sexual behaviour in society, and these factors evolve over time. It is important to be aware of how social and cultural norms impact sexual behaviour while developing one's own point of view.

3. Understanding Gender:

The Social Construction of Gender and Gender Norms-The way that individuals think of themselves, or describe themselves to others in terms of their gender, is unique to them and should be respected. It is important to understand the difference between biological sex and gender. Gender Equality, Stereotypes and Bias-All persons are equally valuable, regardless of their gender.

Gender stereotypes and bias impact how men, women, and people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity are treated and the choices they can make. Gender equality can promote equal decision-making about sexual behaviour and life planning.

Gender-based Violence (GBV) - It is important to know what GBV is and where to go for help. All forms of GBV by adults, young people and people in positions of authority are a violation of human rights. Everyone has a responsibility to advocate for gender equality and speak out against human rights violations such as sexual abuse, harmful practices and other forms of GBV.

4. Violence & staying Safe:

Consent, Privacy, and Bodily Integrity-Everyone has the right to be in control of what they will and will not do sexually, and should actively communicate and recognize consent from their partners. It is important to understand what unwanted sexual attention is and the need for privacy when growing up.

It is important to be aware of factors that can impact the ability to acknowledge or give consent. Safe use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)- Sexual abuse, sexual harassment and bullying (including cyber bullying) are harmful and it is important to seek support if experiencing them. Internet and social media use require special care and consideration.

Sexually explicit media can result in unrealistic expectations about sexual behaviour, sexual response and body appearance. Social media use can result in many benefits, but also has the potential for moral, ethical and legal situations that require careful navigation.

5. Skills for Health & well-being:

Decision-making- Everyone deserves to make their own decisions and all decisions have consequences. There are multiple influences on decisions, including friends, culture, gender-role stereotypes, peers and the media. Sexual decision-making has consequences on oneself and others, including social and health consequences. Sexual decision-making can result in possible legal consequences.

Communication, Refusal and Negotiation Skills- Effective communication uses different modes and styles, and is important to expressing and understanding wishes, needs and personal boundaries. Effective communication is key to expressing personal needs and sexual limits.

Media Literacy and Sexuality- There are different forms of media, which present information that may be correct or incorrect. Some media portray unrealistic images about sexuality and sexual relationships, which can influence our perceptions of gender and self-esteem. Negative and inaccurate media portrayals of men and women can be challenged to influence behaviour positively and promote Gender equality.

Finding Help and Support-It's important to assess sources of help and support, including services and media sources, in order to access quality information and services. Everyone has the right to affordable, factual and respectful assistance that maintains confidentiality and protects privacy.

6. The Human Body & Development:

Sexual and Reproductive Anatomy and Physiology-Everyone's body has parts involved in one's sexual health and reproduction, and it is common for children to have questions about them. Women's bodies can release eggs during the menstrual cycle, and men's bodies may make and ejaculate sperm, both of which are needed for reproduction. Men's and women's bodies change over time, including their reproductive and sexual capacities and functions.

Reproduction- There are differences between reproductive functions and sexual feelings and these can change over a period of time. In order for a pregnancy to begin, criteria must be just right for sperm to join with an egg and implant in the uterus. Not everyone is fertile and there are ways of trying to address infertility for those who would like to conceive.

Puberty- Puberty is a time of sexual maturation that leads to major physical, emotional, social and cognitive changes that can be exciting as well as stressful throughout adolescence.

Menstruation is a normal and natural part of a girls' physical development and should not be treated with secrecy or stigma. During puberty, adolescents may experience a variety of physical responses (e.g. erections and wet dreams)

Body Image- A person's physical appearance does not determine their worth as a human being All bodies are special and unique and people should feel good about their bodies. People's feelings about their bodies can affect their health, self-image and behaviour. There is wide variation in what people fmd attractive when it comes to a person's physical appearance. Unrealistic standards about bodily appearance can be challenged.

7. Sexuality & Sexual Behaviour:

Sex, Sexuality and the Sexual Life Cycle- Human beings are born with the capacity to enjoy their sexuality throughout their life. Sexual feelings, fantasies and desires are natural and occur throughout life although people do not always choose to act on those feelings.

It's natural to be curious about sexuality and important to ask a trusted adult question. Sexuality is complex and includes biological, social, psychological, spiritual, ethical and cultural dimensions that evolve over the lifespan.

Sexual Behaviour and Sexual Response- People can show love for other people through touching and intimacy. Children should understand what is and what is not appropriate touching. Every society, culture and generation has its own myths about sexual behaviours and it's important to know the fact.

It is important to be able to make informed decisions about sexual behaviour, including whether to delay sex or become sexually active. Sexual decision-making requires prior consideration of risk-reduction strategies to prevent unintended pregnancy and STIs, including HIV.

8. Sexual & Reproductive Health:

Pregnancy and Pregnancy Prevention- Modern contraception can help people prevent or plan pregnancy. Gender roles and peer norms may influence decisions about contraceptive use. Contraceptive use can help people who are sexually active to prevent pregnancy, or plan if and when to have children, with important related benefits for individuals and societies.

Young people who are sexually active and could benefit from contraception should be able to access it without significant barriers, regardless of ability, marital status, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. Unintended pregnancies occur, and all young people should be able to access the services and protections necessary for their health and well-being.

Adoption is an option when someone is not ready or able to become a parent. HIV and AIDS Stigma, Care, Treatment and Support-With the right care, respect and support, people living with HIV can lead fully productive lives free from discrimination.

Everyone, including people living with HIV, have the equal right with all others to express sexual feelings and love for others, through marriage and long-term commitments - should they choose to do so.

Understanding, Recognizing and Reducing the Risk of STIs, including HIV- People can acquire STIs, including HIV, as a result of having sex with someone who already has an STI, and there are ways people can lower their vulnerability to infection. Testing is the only way to know for sure whether someone has an STI, including HIV, and treatment exits for HIV and most STIs.

Sexual health services can offer HIV testing, treatment, provision of condoms, and some may provide PrEP and PEP or VMMC, among other services that can help people assess their vulnerability to HIV and access testing and treatment as needed. Communication, negotiation and refusal skills can help young people to counter unwanted sexual pressure or reinforce the intent to practise safer sex (i.e. consistently using condoms and contraception.

MAKING HEADWAY: Growth & Development of Human Body is based on foundation of Emotional & Psychological postulates. CSE is one of the most important decisive phase which nurture the emotional & psychological ennoblement.

Adolescence is the phase where CSE develops young minds to make conscious, satisfying, safe, healthy & respectful choices regarding relationship, sexuality, and individual identity, mental & physical health. As a progressive part of community it's our equal responsibility to not just support but also participate, strengthen & adopt CSE norms to dwindle the entire stigma around the Sex & Sexuality Education.


* Dr Ashwini Sirapanasetty Karache wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an Obstetrics and Gynaecologist Surgeon and
also wife of Major Anil Kumar Sirapanasetty who is a Serving Army Officer currently residing in New Delhi. She is a nature enthusiast and believes in thought of "Harnessing the Humankind with Nature".
This article was webcasted on January 16 2023 .

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