Young People Receive Handbook On Sexuality, Includes Topics Considered Taboo In India
A handbook about different topics on sexuality is distributed to young people in India. It is aimed at young boys and girls who will be responsible for reaching out to their peers to discuss sexual matters that relates to physical and mental health and development.
The handbook in the resource kit by the National Health Mission is written in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund. It covers a variety of topics about sexuality like same sex attraction, sexual abuse and mental health - topics that are considered taboo for discussion in India.
In India, girls on menstruation period are considered as unclean. They are not allowed to go into religious places. Some homes do not even allow these girls to go inside their kitchen. The handbook on sexuality goes on to say that adolescent girls should not be ashamed of having menstruation.
In fact, they should be given extra nutrition and hygiene during these days. It also denounces the popular belief that if a menstruating girl touches a pickle, the fruit will go bad.
On the other hand, boys in India are forbidden to cry to show their softer side. According to BBC, boys are meant to be strong and macho, while girls need to be soft spoken and feminine. Rebecca Tavares, representative of the United Nations Women for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka, wrote on the handbook on sexuality that men and boys are weighed down by those who stereotypes gender.
This is the same case for women and girls who are victim of social conditioning. Girls are also not allowed to play outdoors once they reached the age of puberty.
The handbook also talks about same sex relationships in India, which is considered a criminal offense. It is punishable with imprisonment that ranges from ten years to life. Same sex couples are stigmatized in the Indian society.