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Defining Sex Education:  WHO defines Sexual health as a “state of physical, emotional,
mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality and not merely the
absence of disease or infirmity”.(World Health Organization 2006)  According to Science Daily “Sex education is a broad term
used to describe education about human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction,
sexual intercourse, and other aspects of human sexual behaviour”.(Canfield
1945) Sex education content should cover information about:
(www.futureofsexed.org ) •          body
development•          sex/sexuality•          puberty •          reproduction
•          contraception
and condoms, •          relationships,
•          sexual
violence prevention, •          body
image, •          gender
identity and •          sexual
orientation. Different form of sex education programs are:
(www.advocatesforyouth.org)•          abstinence-only
until marriage•          comprehensive”COMPREHENSIVE
SEX EDUCATION    Teaches that sexuality is a natural, normal, healthy part
of life Teaches that abstinence from sexual intercourse is the
most effective method of preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually
transmitted diseases, including HIV Provides values-based education and offers students the
opportunity to explore and define their individual values as well as the values
of their families and communities Includes a wide variety of sexuality related topics, such
as human development, relationships, interpersonal skills, sexual expression,
sexual health, and society and culture Includes accurate, factual information on abortion,
masturbation, and sexual orientation Provides positive messages about sexuality and sexual
expression, including the benefits of abstinence Teaches that proper use of latex condoms, along with
water-based lubricants, can greatly reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of
unintended pregnancy and of infection with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
including HIV Teaches that consistent use of modern methods of
contraception can greatly reduce a couple’s risk for unintended pregnancy Includes accurate medical information about STDs,
including HIV; teaches that individuals can avoid STDs Teaches that religious values can play an important role
in an individual’s decisions about sexual expression; offers students the
opportunity to explore their own and their family’s religious values Teaches that a woman faced with an unintended pregnancy
has options: carrying the pregnancy to term and raising the baby, or carrying
the pregnancy to term and placing the baby for adoption, or ending the
pregnancy with an abortionABSTINENCE-ONLY-UNTIL-MARRIAGE
EDUCATION  Teaches that sexual expression outside of marriage will
have harmful social, psychological, and physical consequences Teaches that abstinence from sexual intercourse before
marriage is the only acceptable behavior Teaches only one set of values as morally correct for all
students Limits topics to abstinence-only-until-marriage and to the
negative consequences of pre-marital sexual activity Usually omits controversial topics such as abortion,
masturbation, and sexual orientation Often uses fear tactics to promote abstinence and to limit
sexual expression Discusses condoms only in terms of failure rates; often
exaggerates condom failure rates Provides no information on forms of contraception other
than failure rates of condoms Often includes inaccurate medical information and
exaggerated statistics regarding STDs, including HIV; suggests that STDs are an
inevitable result of premarital sexual behavior Often promotes specific religious values Teaches
that carrying the pregnancy to term and placing the baby for adoption is the
onlymorally correct option for pregnant teens”Importance of Sex Education:  In recent times there has been a troubling trend of rise
in reports of sexual harassment. According to UN Women 35% of women have
experienced sexual or physical violence (Senthilingam Meera 2017).  Sex education helps a person understand value and feel
autonomy over their bodies, as well as respect other’s right to autonomy over
their bodies. (www.futureofsexed.org) It
helps understand the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy
relationship. It also helps encompasses issues such as teenage pregnancy,
unsafe abortions, STIs including HIV. (www.advocatesforyouth.org n.d.) The
skills, adolescents develop from sexuality education are linked to more general
life-skills, these useful life-skills are not only to applicable to sexual
relationships but also in other aspects of life.Why India?  As every design has a target audience, sex-education is
targeted for youth as this is age when they are highly likely to experiment and
engage in unsafe sexual activities, that have the potential to influence the
quality of health and probability of survival in both short- and long-term over
their lifetime.The adolescent population comprise of 18% of world population
and India has the largest adolescent population (243 million with more than 50%
of the adolescent population living in urban areas) (Ismail et al. 2015). Children less than the age of 21 years comprise more than
a third of the Indian population. In addition, more than 1 in 10 children in
India are teenagers or currently experiencing puberty, and more than a quarter
of all children will transition to adolescence and puberty within the next
decade (Khubchandani et al. 2014). In India, 47% of girls are married before the age of 18,
according to UNICEF, and 28.5% of women report a first birth before age 18, the
United Nations Population Fund said in a 2013 report. (UNICEF n.d.) In 2015,
there were 2300,000 people of 15 years and above, living with HIV in India,
with one youth infected with HIV/AIDS almost every 15 s (Population Foundation
of India, 2003). 44% Indian women have been groped in public. (Anon 2016) Indian historical context:   According to ancient Hindu way of living, there are four
main goals of life: Dharma(virtue), Artha(meaning), Kama(desire) and
Moksha(liberation) (Hopkins J Thomas 1971). To fulfil Kama, Vatsayana wrote
Kamasutra around 400 BCE, which is the most famous book of erotic love.
Contrary to popular belief it does not talk about just sexual position but also
virtuous living. It is about how one should live their lives, it talks about
finding a wife, virtuous living, how to keep a happily married life, committing
adultery, living as or with a courtesan, using drugs and also, of course, about
the many and varied positions available to lovers in sexual intercourse and the
pleasures to be derived from each as well as tantric sex(occult). (Doniger
2016) Original text of Kamasutra did not have illustrations,
however for visual examples of Sex Education in ancient India one can refer
temple and cave carvings dating back to 2nd Century BCE. The style is realistic
and informative, unlike European figurines where genitals are consciously made
small. This is enough evidence it support that in ancient India sexuality was
not a topic related to taboo, it is an after effect of British
colonisation.(Chakraborty & Thakurata 2013)Indian National Policy on
Sex-Ed:  At the 1994 United Nations International Conference on
Population and Development (ICPD) member states of the UN including India
affirmed the Sexual and Reproductive Rights (SRRs) of adolescents and young
people. It is understood that for adolescents and young people to freely make
informed decisions on all matters relating to their sexuality and reproduction,
they require comprehensive sexuality education. Therefore, as a part of their
commitments under the ICPD agenda, governments are obliged to provide for free
and compulsory comprehensive sexuality education for adolescents and young
people.  Culturally sex remains a taboo and government abdicated it
for too long to make it an important issue.(Seervai shanoor 2015) In 2014,
health minister Harsh Vardhan quoted “Condoms promise safe sex, but the safest
sex is through faithfulness to one’s partner.” (Vardhan ) The common people of
India protested for a ban on Sex Education, which led to 12 state ban in 2007.
(Ismail et al. 2015)Available
Information Design solutions:  Different NGOs in India are working on providing sex
education to Indian youth in both rural and urban areas, one of them is Vikalp
Design, based in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Since it’s inception in 1988 Vikalp Design
has designed information to be delivered to illiterate audience keeping
cultural sensitivity in mind (lakshmi murthy n.d.).  Lashmi Murthy, their founder feels that “Communication
becomes effective when audiences are involved in the design process.
Perceptions of the audience should ideally form the foundation for media
design. Our products are designed ‘bottom up.’ It is developed from the field,
extensively field tested, and the final production is undertaken after these
intensive processes.” They have developed products in print as well as electronic
media. I have chosen to discuss a few I found interesting like the perception
booklet.   The booklet is a line drawing of male-female silhouette,
where the audience draw anatomy as per there conception. This works as an ice
breaker in workshop environment as well as helps the instructor to plan the
lesson on anatomy, based on pre-conceived perceptions Different
NGOs in India are working on providing sex education to ITo take the
anatomy-awareness further, another set of charts are made, which is called
sundar and sundari charts. They are a set of charts bonded together in
life-size or A4 bundles. The cover has fully dressed male and female
illustrations, and as you keep flipping through it, you uncover them to reveal
other body parts and understand anatomy better. The cover illustration has
Rajasthani clothes on, to make a personal connect, and the illustration style
is kept simple for the same reason. When you flip to uncover body-parts, simple
line drawing is used to avoid any awkwardness caused by nudity, hence
communicating anatomy and avoiding taboo.Taking the same concept further three booklets on
sexuality was developed where when you remove the flap you can uncover uterus.  To
understand anatomy as we grow up, how our body changes and how these changes
are different in mean and women double sided book was developed so that
information can be seen and compared. To make it more interactive an animated
CD was made where it lists down the changes as the animated body grows. The
simplicity of the animation is appealing to first time computer user.Another interesting way through which
Vikalp design shows physical changes is kaavad. Kaavad is traditionally
portable shrine in the form of box with multiple doors made of neem-wood and
hand painted. It is a dying form of story telling from Rajasthan, where a
kaavadiya (story teller) takes the kaavad to different town and will tell
devotional mythological story, while opening the doors of kaavad, where the
story was illustrated in vivid colours. A typical kaavad will look like the
image underneath. However, Vikalp design used their
usual simplistic line drawings in monotone, for the same reason stated above,
but the doors concept works in a manner which is like flip books, and it helps
reviving the kaavadiya tradition at the same time.The first door has man and woman
figure fully clothed, the second door has the figures without clothes and the
final panel has detailed internal organ diagram. It was later adopted to inform
about contraception as well.In India, although sex is a taboo pregnancy
is divine, that’s why more realistic and colourful approach can be seen in
pregnancy related information design. However, a bleeding woman fail to make
the cut, so menstruation remains a topic of embarrassment. That’s why
menstruation information booklet goes back to simple line drawings.Out of 37 million blind people, 15
million are Indians(Sinhal Kounteyal 2007). Vikalp Design sensitive to the
plight of visually impaired young girls, designed a kit to explain menstruation
specially to them. The kit has following features:•    A life size human body model for
demonstration•    Tactile diagrams and material in form of
information slates with
      labels of the different body parts•     Text in brailleThe illustration
style of ‘kahaani har mahine ki’ is different from other Vikalp design
products. In my opinion these are more explanative, with style going back to
temple carvings. The format shows the human figure first and then vaginal area,
which will help a blind girl understand the context. This kit only aims at
helping a girl-child understand menstruation and changes related to it physical
or emotional. Vikalp design has other products which touches upon different
aspects of sex education however the style goes back to simple illustrations. Although, Vikalp
Design is trying to convey as much information as it can while working around
the societal taboos, it fails to give them psychological support. It talks
about anatomy and bodily development, but it does not talk about autonomy of
your own body and other person’s autonomy over there body. Keeping in mind that
homosexuality is against the law in India, same sex attraction is not included
in any of their material. Difference between a good touch and a bad touch,
which is essential as a lot of children are abused, is not discussed anywhere.
It does manage to give information but it’s not comprehensive sex education. Another NGO which
is working on research based information design is thoughtshop foundation based
in Kolkatta, West Bengal. Thoughtshop has produced information design material
on child rights, youth issue, gender inequality, disability, HIV, sex education
and reproductive health.(www.thoughtshopfoundation.org 1993) Although it works
with rural focus group as well, the trainings are usually conducted in schools,
so the focus group is low-literate to literate rural adolescent. The taboo is
less prevalent, and the student brain is eager for information and open to new
ideas. I studied their training material and except sexuality it covers
everything from the content-list. The trainer has his guidebook which has
provision for keeping notes and to do list of every information that needs to
be communicated, in detail. Students are shown cards and
situations are explained around these cards in the beginning. The cards deal
with problems related to nutrition, hygiene, peer-pressure, goal-setting,
problem solving, leadership, talking to opposite sex, STIs, RTIs, teenage
pregnancy. The students are divided into teams and card is given to them with
situations explained. Now the students must come up with a solution of these
situations, which makes the student sensitive and remember the issue.Then the group is
divided into smaller personal group with both boys as well as girls and they
are asked to look at the anatomy mats and first fill it on there own and then
the trainer explains it in detail.  They
are urged to discuss amongst themselves which makes the embarrassment go away.
Trainer also explains the mental and emotional changes that a youth goes
through.Unlike Vikalp
Design the illustrations used are more realistic, like textbooks and the course
material comprehensive, I suspect it is because education ratio is better in
West Bengal.  Thoughtshop foundation also
has different print material like flip-charts, champa book, paro book, etc.
They follow the same illustration language and are quite colourful in their
approach.A rather fun
approach of explaining puberty to the urban population
in India can be found in Aditi Gupta’s Menstrupedia. With her two friends Aditi
started a comic strip called Menstrupedia, which soon got the funding to be
converted into a book.(gupta aditi 2012) In Menstrupedia, four teenage girl
friends try to uncover the thrill of puberty. Through fun illustrations and
comic book style, the story
teller tries to explain the physical and emotional changes that body goes
through during puberty.  There is a trainer guide for school use as well, which is
accompanied by video. The guide is in frequently asked questions style in terms
of content and illustrations from comic book is used in video. The content is
heavily focused on girls however the boys do get a mention occasionally. It
focuses only on puberty and tries to stay away from all the taboo topics.Recent
Development:  In a surprisingly refreshing move last year health
ministry launched new sex education resource kit and app known as “Saathiya”.
It aims to help adolescent with their anxieties, help bust myths as well as
misconception. A helpline is also being put in place for them as part of
Rashtriya Kishore Swasthya Karyakrama(programme). The Saathiya resource kit
which is prepared in association with United Nation Population Fund comprises
of: (UNFPA asia 2017)  •    Saathiya
Activity book consists a list of life-skills based activity,                         it aims to create
interactive environment with the field worker and            adolescents while
conducting discussions on various issues.•    Saathiya
resource booklet/frequently asked questions which as
      its name suggests address to answer
the most commonly asked                                 questions
in such setting.•    Saathiya
Bhranti Kranti game is an interactive card game where
      two characters ‘bhranti’ and
‘kranti’ have conversation which busts                    myths
and misconceptions in a fun way. It also includes a detailed             instruction book for field worker.•    Saathiya
Diary discusses issues mentioned in activity book like                                  mental health, sanitation, hygiene,
physical and emotional violence       as well as health and wellbeing. It can be
used to self-educate as                         well
as in group. Each section of diary consists of stories, issues,            games
and a message from Dr Sneha, a famous fictional character                    from Indian television.•    Saathiya
salaah app which provides important information regarding             sex education. •    Saathiya
Cinema Micro SD card which contains 8 short videos of                         Dr Sneha specially developed for this
programme, where she                        finds Saathiya and explains their role in
the society as well as                                 game
videos in question and answer format and it ends with a                   video message
from Farhan Akhtar, a popular movie star. This aims              to reinforce key messages and increase interaction. During the launch
health minister said, “With so much expansion of media, tv, social media and
overall technology, there are still many unanswered questions in the minds of
young boys and girls. This is an ambitious project, aimed at behavioural change
and overall thinking through these voluntary peer educators called
Saathiya”.(Asia pacific unfpa 2017) With 165,000 peer educator volunteers the
product is aimed to reach out 260,000,000 adolescents. In a brave move,
the content designed by government tells the youth that it is alright to feel
attraction for same sex, although under 377 of IPC homosexuality is a
punishable offense in India. The material says that relationships are based on
consent and respect, which might help the government reduce rape incidents. It
further says clearly that when a woman says NO it means NO, and it should be
respected. Busting gender
myth, the content says that it alright for a man to enjoy hobbies which were
pre-dominantly enjoyed by girls, like cooking, stitching etc. Discouraging
gender stereotypes the content says that it’s not alright to  call anyone ‘sissy’ or ‘tomboy’ and it’s
alright for boys to cry.(Outlook 2017)The app is designed
simply in FAQ style in Hindi. In a country where 120 languages are spoken how
effective this will be questionable. Content in app is crisp, clear and
navigation is simple. No illustrations are used; however, icons are used to
define different sections, and high contrast is maintained throughout the app. The kit is not available to review, although through
health ministry twitter account and newspaper clippings few pages of kit can be
seen. The kit looks colourful, but illustrations can still not be seen, which
makes me wonder if there are any illustrations used at all. Our brain think in
form of images and learns approximately 83% through sight.(Murgio Matthew 1969)
if we are not getting anything to see the job is only half-done.

The United States, which more commonly
uses abstinence-until-married form of sex-education, ranks first among
developed nations in rates of both teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted
diseases (Stanger-Hall
& Hall 2011)
whereas Switzerland which is practicing comprehensive sex education, with
sexuality and different kind of touch being discussed in kindergarten has
lowest teenage pregnancy and saw constant decline in STD (Sedgh et al.
2015).
Indians in general are not comfortable discussing sex, how India, the country which
was known as land of Kamasutra became the land where discussion related to
sex-education became taboo is a philosophical one, which might not fetch any
answers. However, realising it’s shortcomings the government is taking sure
steps in right direction, but whether it will bring any real change is still
unclear. 

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