How I started a sex education revolution in India

This coming school year, 600,000 eleven to fifteen year old kids across every single region of India are going to be learning everything from puberty and menstruation, to consent, gender roles, safe sex, and LGBTQ, through my program Iesha LearningThey are going to role-play saying “yes” and “no” in complex social situations. They are going to learn that the menstrual cycle is actually 4 weeks, not 4 days, and how our bodies are so smart that they follow the rhythm of the moon. That it’s ok to feel sexual attraction. That boys can be kind and sensitive too, and that the heroes of Bollywood movies might actually get arrested if they stalked women like that in real life.

This sort of education, and at this scale, has never happened before in India. In a country where 80% of Indian women do not know why they menstruate (“it just happens”), and 53% of Indian children — more than half the population — has experienced sexual abuse, we have to understand the magnitude of the social taboo on sexuality and gender.

How is it that half a million middle and high schoolers are getting access to information that was withheld from their older siblings, and their parents, and their parents, and their parents? How did I manage to build something that changes kids’ attitudes, making a crack in the vicious cycle of violence and disrespect and gender inequality and that giant, silencing, uncomfortable, weird thing called a “taboo”? As a twenty-something young Indian-American woman with no previous experience or degree in sex education, and with almost no networks or contacts in the country?

Here’s my story of tackling the single most difficult, complex, and important social issue in one of the oldest and most traditional cultures on Earth.

To continue reading, please click here -> How I started a sex education revolution in India originally posted on Medium

Nilima Achwal