Church’s sex-education initiative hailed

By TCN News

Mumbai: The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), a Mumbai-based community NGO, has hailed the Ernakulam-Angamaly archdiocese of the Syro-Malabar Church's ‘Enlight’ program, a sex education initiative for eighth-grade catechism students and called upon the Catholic Bishop's Conference of India (CBCI) to issue an advisory for the same to be followed in all the dioceses of India.

This is in the light of increased reports of sexual abuse, crimes against women and protect especially minors. In a letter to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, CBCI president, the CSF general secretary said that " Christian children generally attend catechism classes almost every Sunday for the ten years that they are in school. This is the right time to educate them on sexuality, especially in the light of the internet and widespread media reports on abuse or deviant sexual behaviour. The CBCI is an apex body of different rites and hence, its advisory could be followed by the dioceses." The ‘Enlight’ program lays stress on checking the abuse of social networking and the evil of teenage sex chatting, by exposing the risks.

The CSF general secretary also urged the CBCI to " write to the Justice Verma Committee opposing death penalty or chemical castration for rape, as these are contrary to the stand of the Catholic Church, which must be clearly expressed. The sex education sylabus during catechism must teach equal respect for the girl child, the psychological impact and dangers of sex at puberty or outside marriage. Sexual restraint and celibacy much be encouraged and use of contraceptives be discouraged. A secular textbook on the subject needs also to be made available for the moral classes for non-Christian students, with the approval of the authorities. " The CSF pointed out that there are over 15,000 educational schools and institutions, run by the Catholic Church in the country spread over almost 200 dioceses.

The CSF in a memorandum to the union HRD minister, also urged the government to make sex education compulsory, with a focus on sexual responsibility and abstinence, given the consequences, which many are unaware of. No religion permits unequal sexes, a licentious lifestyle or sexually deviant behaviour and this must be highlighted. This will help change the mind-set of students during the vital formative years. Doctors, lawyers, psychologists and social activists need to be used to sensitize students on gender issues and sexual offenses. The government must also lay equal emphasis on the morals, values and rights aspect of sexuality, rather than just the biological or physiological, as is done presently.