Empowering adulthood through sex education

Dr Ashwini Sirapanasetty Karache
“Comprehensive sexuality education needs to be understood by different stakeholders, such as parents, community members, religious leaders & politicians, in order to promote comfort & understanding of what can be a sensitive topic.”
What is Comprehensive Sexuality Education ?
Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) is a curriculum based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality. It aims to equip children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitude and values that empower them to realize their health, well-being and dignity; develop respectful social and sexual relationships; consider how their choices affect their own well-being and that of others; understand and ensure the protection of their rights throughout their lives. CSE plays a pivotal role in the preparation of young people for a safe, productive accomplished life in a world where HIV & AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unintended pregnancies, and gender based violence (GBV) & gender inequality still pose serious risks to their well-beings.
National policies and curricular may use different terms to refer to CSE. These includes: Prevention Education (refers to comprehensive education that is focused on addressing the root causes of interpersonal violence or sexual assault, relationship violence & stalking), Relationship & Sexuality education, Family life education, life-skills education, HIV education, life styles and  basic life safety. Regardless of the term used, comprehensive refers to the development of learner’s KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS and ATTITUDES for positive sexuality and good sexual and reproductive health (SRH). Core elements of CSE programmes share certain similarities such as a firm grounding in Human Rights and recognition of broad concept of sexuality as a natural part of human development.
SRH (Sexual and Reproductive Health) Issues that affects Adulthood.
1. Puberty: For both boys and girls, the transition from childhood to adulthood may be presented as exciting, and marking a major change. However, for boys, the shift of puberty is much more explicitly linked to sexual feelings in a positive way, whereas for girls this moment often marks the beginning of conflicting messages about sexuality, virginity, fertility and womanhood. For many girls, menstruation is seen as the start of puberty. In some settings, cultural taboos and stigma force girls to sleep or eat away from their families or to miss school while they are menstruating. In many countries, schools do not have toilets that facilitate privacy, cleanliness or proper disposal of menstruation-related products.
Puberty for boys is often considered as the onset of sexual desire, erections and wet dreams, while potentially embarrassing occu- rrences, are not usually approached from the same narrative of shame that girls experience. A discussion of masculinity has been absent from many sexuality education programmes because masculinity is generally not perceived as problematic, yet boys feel that their needs and questions about their sexuality are not being addressed (UNESCO).
2. Pregnancy : Early marriage is a key factor of births to teenage mothers in developing countries occur within marriage (IPPF, 2017). Early pregnancy and childbirth can have serious health and social consequences and is the second cause of death among girls under 19 years old. Complications during pregnancy or childbirth are one of the leading causes of death among adolescent girls (WHO). Adolescent girls that are pregnant may be more likely than older women to delay seeking maternal health care because they do not have enough knowledge about pregnancy and its complications; or because they are constrained in making decisions about their access to and use of medical services (e.g. by in-laws, (To be contd)