We don’t want no sex education

During a workshop on puberty awareness targeted at 10- to 12-year-old boys, sex educator Anju Kishinchandani was faced with a curious situation. When they were talking about the growth of pubic hair, one of her students thought he would have to stop going to school. Perplexed, she asked him why, and he said that since he wore shorts to school, hair might grow out from under them.

“We take for granted that the child would know things. But (puberty) is completely new for them. It can cause so much worry,” says Kishinchandani, who conducts workshops in Mumbai schools and neighbourhoods through her company, Out of the Box. These include a “My Body is Mine”, a child-friendly workshop for five- to eight-year-olds, and “Let’s Talk”, a complete sex education session for 13- to 15-year-olds, designed to encourage informed decision making.

Kishinchandani and other gender and sexual health educators have a tough job—in rural and urban India, social and cultural stigmas make it difficult to discuss sex, gender and sexual health issues with children and young adults.

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