As adult members of society, it is our duty to educate, mould and inspire younger generations, but most importantly, it’s our duty to make sure that they do not boink each other. This is quite a challenge given that teenagers are basically hormone-fuelled bunnies who show the same kind of unwavering determination towards sex that Sir Edmund Hillary showed while conquering Everest. In fact, teenage boys are known to conquer Everest all alone, several times a day.
But the Centre is serious about this, as was evident from the Union Cabinet clearing an amendment to the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Bill, 2011, which raised the legal age for sex from 16 to 18. On paper, sex between minors – even if it’s consensual – would be a crime punishable by a maximum of a three year jail term. There is a perfectly good reason for this, i.e. ‘I didn’t get any in my time, so neither will you.’
OK, no. The reason behind this proposed raise is that it will help prosecute and convict child-traffickers, who would then hopefully be castrated by the process of launching hungry crocodiles at their junk.
So there’s no questioning of intent here. But given the implications of the amendment, a Delhi court has asked that it be reconsidered. While the issue will be debated in the days to come, it does bring to light our attitude towards sex, which is the same as the Congress attitude towards terrorism: “If we ignore it long enough, maybe it will go away.”
Think about it. A blanket ban is hardly a deterrent for teenagers, and will be as effective as those “Do not enter this site if you are under 18” warnings. For example, consider the following scenario with a young couple in bed…
Boy: I’ve waited so long for this.
Girl: Me too, baby.
Boy: Oh wait. I just remembered that I’m 17, so this is a crime.
Boy: I should probably stop recording as well…
Don’t get me wrong – I do not condone young teens having sex. These are creatures that cannot even spell ‘responsibility’ (rspnsblty?) so they definitely shouldn’t be fooling around with something that has the power to create another human being inside them. So here’s a message to any young teens that might be reading this: Do not have sex until you are physically and mentally ready for it, which, according to your parents, should be around the age of forty five.
The truth is that kids are doing whatever the hell they want to do. So it might help if they’re educated about the whole process, as opposed to rushing into it like a bull in a china shop. Except that the china shop can also give you herpes.
Sex education has never been a priority in India, languishing on our to-do list somewhere between ‘Fight Corruption’ and ‘Be nice to Manipur’. In school, I too would’ve remained clueless, were it not for my love for encyclopaedias. Then again, the fact that I had a “love for encyclopaedias” ensured that I wouldn’t have to worry about contact with the opposite sex for a long, long time. Abstinence is easy, as long as someone else is using it against you.
I don’t know how many schools teach their students about sex now, but I firmly believe that their education would be incomplete without regular hospital visits, wherein they’re forced to look at actual rashes, sores, pus-filled lesions and yes, childbirths, ideally right after the lunch break. Think Pavlov, but with more blood and screaming. They’d hate their teachers for it, but later, as adults, they would talk about them often. To their therapists.
As always, the onus is on the parents to sit their child down and have awkward conversations with them. It’s either that, or the internet, which teaches you that women really love pizza delivery guys. This is still better than relying on our politicians. They just seem like a bunch of Everest conquerors.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 6th May 2012. Cross-posted from here.)