Sex has long been taboo for implicit reasons, any word attached with “sex” is highly stigmatised, and people become hyperventilated. People’s understanding of sexuality differs from each other; with a majority of them, understanding sexuality as synonymous with sex and Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) is seen as a method to teach about sex and sexual acts. This confusion and stigma dismiss parents and teachers to be open and informed regarding the rigid barriers that impede access to information and the overall well- being of young people.
I remember my days when my access to sexuality education was limited both at the private and public sphere. I found a youth information centre during my late adolescent, where I could question without being judged, learn without hesitation and access the information that is not easily located. This youth-friendly platform allowed me to explore other sources of information about my sexuality, sexual and reproductive health rights and my overall well-being.
The youth information centre opened avenues for me to claim my rights as an adolescent, right to information, equipped me to defy harmful traditional practices in my own home and to make informed choices. Upon my discovery of this avenue, I realised that if I had been introduced to this education and information from my childhood, I would not have to suffer from the stress, trauma, isolation that my body went through during puberty. Today, however with the right information, I feel very empowered and confident to lead my life without any risk.
I began to wonder who defines and regulates our culture, as sexuality is seen as an “insult to our culture”. I strongly believe that the right to information should not be denied and regulated on the grounds of culture and religion. Subsequently, CSE should not be treated with repulsion or as an exclusive knowledge to a few, but as a human right, accessible to all regardless of class, caste, gender identity, sexual orientation, geography or social background.
Likewise, CSE should not be limited to the school system; but young people should be able to access it from the home. The denial of this information is itself discrimination and this discrimination can lead to other forms of violation of rights such as early marriage, forced marriage, unsafe abortion and so on which threatens their health, life and future.
The constitution of Nepal in 2015 has also ensured the right to information as a fundamental right under Article 27. The sexuality education at the present time should also rise above the heteronormativity and gender binaries by adding layers of intersectionality on the basis of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Sexuality must be embraced as human rights than disease prevention.
Article by: Pushpa Joshi
Pushpa Joshi is co-founder of YoSHAN and also a youth champion at Asia Safe Abortion Partnership. She is a young feminist activist with more than six years of experience in the field of Sexual and Reproductive health rights.