Friday, June 27, 2008

Sex education in schools (links)


I hit upon this discussion forum on India together.

At various points I have witnessed discussions on ideas like pre-marital sex, sensuality and its relation to Indian culture. Divorce rates are used as an indicator to show breakdown of cultural ethos and the traditional family by conservatives while liberals see it as a gauge of independence or rights.

Here are more articles/reading material I found:

1. HIV/AIDS awareness and discrimination of HIV +ve children (This is related to sex education, because teachers are themselves perpetrators of such discrimination and are insensitive to the realities of the disease)

2. Child Sexual Abuse (A taboo topic anywhere in India. But, work done by Thulir show how it can be battled. They are one of the few organizations struggling against this issue. The education aspects that they focus on are for 'parents', 'teachers' and finally 'students')

3. Articles on 'Sex education and state/moral action against it'

4. What is Sex education?
Here is a doctor's advice for parents on tough questions -

5. A more comprehensive article on India together on 'Sex Education' -


A recent report in Indian Express about a survey by International Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai and Population Council, New Delhi: February 19, 2008
Youth want Sex Education: Survey Study by IIPS reveals lack of comprehensive knowledge about HIV/AIDS

An article on Sex Education in AVERT website (charity organization that works on AIDS/HIV in Africa and India)


I knew that sex abuse of minors in India is fairly common, but had no idea it was this prevalent, from

The Delhi-based Sakshi Violation Intervention Centre in a 1997 study that interviewed 350 school children, found that 63 per cent of the girl respondents had been sexually abused by a family member; 25 per cent raped, and over 30 per cent sexually abused by the father, grandfather or a male friend of the family. A 1999 study by the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Social Sciences revealed that 58 of the 150 girls interviewed had been raped before they were 10 years old. RAHI, a Delhi-based organisation that provides support to victims of sexual abuse, reports that of the 1,000 upper and higher-middle class college students interviewed, 76 per cent had been abused as children, 31 per cent by someone known to the family and 40 per cent by a family member, and 50 per cent of them before the age of 12.

When surveys consistently reveal that more than 50% of girl children are sexually abused, it is astounding that so many men have gotten away with this. And the fact that this remains suppressed means that mothers and other female relatives, by their silence and inaction on this, are in effect accomplices for these crimes.

We should really fight for including meaningful sex education (being careful not to bring in wishy-washy stuff about Indian culture and pre-marital sex, or the dangers of "unnatural" sex etc). But even before that, we should ask Asha, AID etc to talk seriously about these issues to all schools they work with and see if extra lessons for sex education can be imparted...


Here is a link on how victims of child sex abuse are helped in the US (
The adults have a huge responsibility in the prevention of this crime (


Anita and I had visited Puvidham in May. Including some parts from the report:
... We next went to the hostel. There was a caretaker, a teacher and an elder student working on cleaning and drying some of the organic produce. The hostel itself is a two-story building. The girls are in the lower floor and the boys in the upper. The staircase runs from inside the first room. Given that there are adolescents among both the boys and girls this a remarkable setup. Organizations have had a lot of trouble with the elder boys and girls staying at the same location. Usually, organizations try to introduce morality and a sense that all the people living in the organization are their brothers and sisters, etc, but this rarely works. I found the approach adopted by Meenakshi of treating the elder children as adults, talking about the changes and hormones in their body openly and placing the trust on the children as refreshingly mature and felt happy that this approach has worked well in these hostels...

Organic Manure and Humanure (links)


Here is an inspiring documentary about breakthroughs in protecting the environment by transforming waste back into food/raw material, we can watch tomorrow.
Brief Description about this documentary:
In the early 90s, the American "green" architect William McDonough and German "green" chemist Michael Braungart teamed up to realise the Waste = Food principle in man-made products. They replace the old maxim "Cradle to Grave" with the new principle of "Cradle to Cradle", meaning that all products must be completely biodegradable in the biosphere and serve as food for the natural organisms there, and that all non-degradable material must be able to be used as high-quality raw material for new products in the techno-sphere.

They took their ideas regarding global waste problems to the Ford Motor Company, NIKE and the rapidly developing China. They helped Ford transform their heavily polluted manufacturing sites into green areas that are safe enough for children to play in. Due to their encouragement, NIKE has designed toxin-free running shoes that can be completely recycled. McDonough and Braungart were also invited to China to develop China's first ecologically sustainable model village.


I am currently reading Cradle to Cradle. It is a very interesting book.

Any links for organic waste disposal and humanure? (posted on an Asha group)

Found a free book on Humanure for those interested -

Quoting Sanjeev from his post on another list -

Fundamentally, the concept of organic "waste" is an urban bane. It is
not necessarily an issue in rural India and even in places that it is,
the solutions are not necessarily what we get forced to use in the
cities (or locations with very limited space, no organic recycling,

There are a couple of solutions that have worked in the field:

1) one, are dry composting toilets.
2) gobar gas plants are capable of not just taking animal waste, but
humans one as well (through how the slurry is treated before it can be
used in the fields is different).

Humanure is a tricky subject to work on, because fundamentally it is a
taboo topic in our society. To work in this area requires
understanding of issues and conditions at a broad level. The two
biggest issues to solving the problem may not be the implementation,
but being able to look at the problem at a larger scale than making it
someone else's problem i.e. being able to think beyond what we have
seen all our lives (fighting against our conditioning that tells us
that what we have done is the only "good" way). Then, if we able to
work out a solution, being able to work with others to use it. This is
difficult in a village as people are looking up to us to understand
what is the "the good life" which is automatically interpreted as a
good city life with amenities including flushing your problems down
away from your habitat.

Here's a really interesting article on composting. We just set up areas in our backyard to compost this weekend and the reduction in waste is a little astounding. This guide has definitely helped answer a lot of questions. We didn't use a specialized composting bin or anything just metal stakes and chicken wire.

Putting organic waste (from the kitchen) down the garbage disposal also poses another set of issues, since it takes so much more water to grind it up and then this slush has to be treated to extract the water from it. No idea where/how the remaining waste is disposed.

More links related to gender discussion


Another interesting article/op-ed on the gender issue in the Guardian:

So angry I could strip!

Its about sexual harassment of women, whistling and lewd behavior/comments at women in the UK and New Zealand etc.

the girlification of women that should have been one of the first obstacles to fall in the battle for emancipation has instead proved one of the most difficult to budge. We may well be proud of our achievements in the workplace and in the political sphere, but at the first mention of our looks or at the slightest suggestion that we're "putting on a bit of weight", all that progress falls by the wayside.

As Mary Wollstonecraft said: "Taught from infancy that beauty is woman's sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison."

The article and associated forum bring up a variety of issues and viewpoints related to sexual harassment. For instance,

- How do different men and women think about 'whisting' or 'staring lewdly'? The forum throws up some wildly differently answers among both men and women.

- Are women or men thinking about women more concerned about beauty than intellect? Why is beauty only (or mostly) applied to women?

- Which leads more towards women spending a lot of time and money on cosmetics and other beauty products: expectations from men or peer pressure from other women?

- One traditional (IMO, patriarchal) viewpoint has it that sexual harassment increases with women who are not metaphorically wearing a burqa covering head to toe: like in the words of one commenter in the forum, "If women stroll around half naked then obviously men are gonna have a look." We talked about this briefly and we all agreed that this 'blame the victim' attitude is wrong but I think this merits more discussion: primarily because this view is held by an overwhelming majority of people.

- So is liberation for women at all possible if beauty and looking good is so important among women?

- And the point that the article itself brings about: "what can women do about these (sexual harassment) incidents?" The Israeli tourist in the article stripped naked as an extreme expression of her disgust, but as people who are concerned about the issue, what can and should we do to make the situation better for women who come across our lives or across the world? If walking by a road in India, you see a bunch of inebriated guys "eve-teasing" or even passing lewd comments at a woman, what would you do? This is not an uncommon happening in India, and by the likes of it, in most of the first world also.


Came across this incredible montage of some shocking clips of sexism in CNN, Fox, MSNBC and CNBC during the recent Democratic primaries, and interspersed with some inspiring quotes from past activists:

And an interesting comparison of that video and the Sex and the City movie:

Women in Charge, Women who Charge, by Judith Warner


Vatican announces to excommunicate woman priests: