news Friday, May 22, 2015 - 05:30
Last week, Times of India reported that data accessed through RTI showed that out of nearly 31000 women who opted for medical termination of pregnancy in Mumbai in 2014-15, 1600 were below the age of 19. Further, and shockingly so, abortions among teenage girls below the age of 15 in Mumbai have recorded an alarming increase by 67% in the same year. The Indian child is at risk, and there is simply no doubt about it. A World Health Organisation report mentioned that in 47% of the total number of marriages in India, the bride was a child. The third National Family Health Survey mentioned that there were 36,700 teenage abortions in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai in 2005-06. A report released in 2007 by ‘Ministry of Women and Child Development’ established that 150 million girls and 73 million boys below 18 years of age were subjected to forced sexual intercourse or other kinds of sexual violence. As per an India Today report, three doctors from the Lady Hardinge hospital run by the central government researched on minors suffering from sexually transmitted diseases. They concluded that the number of children suffering from STD’s were increasing, due to rampant child abuse cases and lack of sexual health programmes in school curriculum. With India having the largest child population in the world, and each one of them at the risk of child marriage, teenage pregnancy, sexual molestation or sexually transmitted diseases, social health experts are pressing more for sensible, compulsory sex-education in schools. The first step, experts say, is making sex-education mandatory. Gowthaman Ranganathan, a lawyer working on related issues says, “We need a comprehensive sex education to be introduced in school curriculum,” adding that it is important to provide updated and relevant information in schools. Further, Kumar V Jahgirdar, Founder President of the NGO CRISP, says that through sex education in schools, children should be taught to differentiate between an appropriate touch and an inappropriate one. “In most cases children are molested by people they are closely associated to,” he says, “And both girls and boys are being sexually exploited, so they need equal protection.” Experts say that the need for sex education in schools is even more urgent now since, with the advent of information technologies, children can easily access sexual content. Manoranjani Girish, a child-rights activist, highlights that children are easily influenced with content in popular media which often spread incomplete or wrong information among children. Such sources should be scrutinised and formal sex-education should be introduced in schools to provide adequate and accurate information to children.