Madhya Pradesh rightwing fuels anti-sex education drive


Bhopal : The Madhya Pradesh government may have already banned sex education in its schools, but rightwing groups have decided to go one step further by distributing thousands of copies of a book that warns of its dangers.

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Even as India battles diseases like AIDS, over 10,000 copies of the book titled "Red Alert", published by a Mumbai-based NGO, have been distributed free of cost in the state.

Rightwing outfits like the Bajrang Dal, often accused of playing moral police, have jumped in to lend a helping hand.

The book, authored by Jataiyu and published by Viniyog Parivar, not only cautions readers against sex education in schools but also describes it as the 'tsunami of Indian culture', said a government school teacher who said he got the book from a Bajrang Dal activist.

The book emphasizes that a doctor needs to talk about sex, not a teacher.

Outrage over sex education in schools, mainly among rightist parties, has been prompted primarily by a flip chart of illustrations used by teachers to explain the physical changes experienced by teenagers during puberty.

Information in the curriculum on contraception and sexually transmitted diseases also provoked anger, compelling the state in March to stop sex education provided under the adolescent education programme (AEP) in its present form in schools. The National Aids Control Organisation funds AEP.

But the Bajrang Dal says the government ban is not enough.

"Awareness among people about the dangers of imparting sex education to students at a young age is also crucial. Sex is natural and no one can teach about it to children," said Dal leader Vishal Purohit.

"The book has been written by Ratnsunder Surishwar Maharaj who is opposed to sex education like we are," said Jayeshbhai Desai, who deals with the distribution of the book from Indore.

The Congress praty, which had earlier objected to sex education in schools, has now changed its mind and urged the government to ban the book.

"It is a serious matter. The government should ban the book. It is against the union government's decision," said state Congress spokesperson Manak Aggarwal.

Ironically, the controversy is raging in a state where 2,174 AIDS patients have been identified. Of this over 40 percent belong to the age group of 21-30 years. As per reports, nearly 75 percent people get infected due to unsafe sex.

Said an activist working for the welfare of women and children in the state: "Today you stop AEP, tomorrow you will say that teaching biology should also be stopped because the books also contain pictures of human anatomy more or less similar to the ones in the study material in question."