research, sex, Sex education

Research, Round V

12th October 2015 : Alpha One Shopping Mall

A bunch of 12 year olds were hanging out at the food court, and discussing animatedly about what to order. We spoke to them about their classes and what they do in their free time. They all had an iPhone with an internet connection. They had little idea about what the act of sex involved and giggled every time the word was mentioned. They did have sex education classes in school, where a professional was brought in to speak to them about reproduction and masturbation. They didn’t refer to friendship with girls in a healthy manner and made fun of a friend who had a “girlfriend” . They referred to their female classmates as gai (cattle) / kutiya (female dogs), which we found very disturbing. They were happy, healthy and privileged kids who had a skewed sense of relationships.

Next we spoke to four 17 year old boys. They were shy and unwilling to even say the word sex, let alone talk about it. We gathered that they were from a lower middle class background and their sources of information were limited to friends and newspapers and an occasional pornographic film. They didn’t know about menstruation beyond something that the females in their families go through once a month. They were of the opinion that when the time comes they will eventually figure things out. Yet again they had no female friends, and found the idea a bit alien.

Later we had a conversation with two 15 year old girls whose friends joined in later. “We are not interested in these things,” one of them promptly replied when asked if they knew where babies came from. While their mothers were their primary sources of information and they freely spoke about these things with them, the rest had gained the little knowledge they had from friends or the internet. They knew the process of reproduction in theory but had no idea how the sperm reached the egg. Some of the other girls were unwilling to even meet our eyes and talk to us. They nodded and tried their best to seem inconspicuous. When we left them they immediately went back to taking selfies.

We also spoke to a few couples. All of them belonged to the upper middle class, their age varying from 17 to 27. While some of the people received a significant amount of sex education in school (school syllabus, external personnel, explainer videos), some of them had hardly received any. All of them believed that sex education is very important for children and teenagers. They recalled having received a lot of information from their friends. Some friends (supposed bad boys) seemed to know more than the others, and became trustworthy sources of such knowledge. Another source was the internet of course, including porn, for some. All of them mentioned having a communication gap with their parents in terms of this; sex being a topic rarely brought up within their households. And none of them had ever spoken to the parent of the opposite gender regarding these things.

Insights

  1. Young adults of urban India are more accepting of pre-marital sex as compared to their adult counter-parts.
  2. Younger teens while still shy about talking of sexuality have had some conversation about it at home.
  3. Exposure to a variety of media have made many, question the existing belief system.
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