Last year in January, in the wake of a gangrape in Delhi, the Justice Verma Committee report was released which not only recommended some major changes in the rape laws in India but also called for a cohesive sex education program in schools which would have a direct bearing on gender violence. Of course this program was resisted by the so-called keepers of Indian culture (the Members of Parliaments that is) as
“Our country’s social and culture ethos are such that sex education has absolutely no place in it. Basic human instincts like food, fear, greed, coitus etc. need not be taught, rather control of these instincts should be the subject of education… To focus Indian education on ‘instinct control’ should the important objective and for that the dignity of restraint has to be well entrenched in education.”
Lets try deconstructing this statement. It says two things most importantly. One sex education has no place in the culture of India and two instinct control and restraint are to be taught instead. There is an inherent contradiction in the statement. How do you teach control when you have not taught the kid what it should restrain from? The entire process of repression has in my opinion somewhere fed into the rape culture in India. The so-called culturalists would argue that this is because of over-exposure to western media, assuming the child to be asexual. Indian parents continue to infantalise their kids till the time they are married and expect them to flower into these fertile sexual creatures on the marriage bed to produce grandsons to play with.
The second statement I find even more interesting. It reminds me of Norbert Elias’ The Civilizing Process where in he argues that as a civilisation progresses it will create greater restraints and controls on manners and behavior. However there will come a time when the civilisation will be comfortable with its status and relax a few of these controlling mechanism.
There is a need to look at the hypocrisies that exist in our culture to understand how shame is constructed around women’s bodies and goddess figures. While Delhi is known as the rape capital, there is a need to undo the repression and inculcate the ability to talk about sex freely with our peers, family and teachers.