In the bustling landscape of Indian cinema, OMG 2, directed by Amit Rai and starring Akshay Kumar, Pankaj Tripathi, and Yami Gautam, as a spiritual successor to OMG - Oh My God! (2012), has emerged as a veritable phenomenon stirring a flurry of discourse, and, one might add, for all the right reasons.
This cinematic marvel has cast an unyielding spotlight on a myriad of pressing concerns that have somehow managed to remain unaddressed in the fabric of our society.
It's perplexing – how a film, through its celluloid lens, could compel us to confront issues we have silently acquiesced to. In a nation teeming with narratives, are we, perhaps, selectively muting our collective conscience when it comes to the questions OMG 2 brazenly poses?
For the uninitiated, OMG 2 delves deeply into a subject of immense sensitivity within the Indian context – the realm of Sex Education. This is not just a topic but a profound societal issue that has long lurked in the shadows of our nation's discourse.
The narrative of Kanti Sharan Mudgal, a devout follower of Lord Shiva, a humble father, is told in the satirical comedy-drama film OMG 2. His son, Vivek, gets expelled from school one day after being accused of immoral behaviour (masturbation). Kanti realises after the confrontation that his kid has been the victim of disinformation and misdirection. Grief-stricken and unable to deal with the problem, Kanti intends to leave town with his family until a heavenly intervention guides him to the truth.
In a spectacular courtroom scene, Kanti then vows to take on everyone responsible by hauling them to court to enforce comprehensive sex education in schools.
The film asks relevant questions: Why is sex taboo when India is the land of Kamasutra? Why are vagina and penis given names but not addressed as such? Why is there no discussion on the menstrual cycle in schools? Porn is easily available on the internet, yet sex education is frowned upon.
I dare to ask, would women be safer in the nation if males were more aware of their sexual wants and boundaries? Sex education is essential to a well-rounded and effective education system, and its inclusion in Indian schools is critical. As a country with a diversified population and a complex cultural fabric, India stands to profit significantly from a comprehensive approach to sex education.
Sex-related taboos have a significant impact on Indian youths. According to a poll conducted by the International Institute for Population Sciences and the United Nations Population Fund, published in August 2020, more than 70% of teenagers suffer constraints while discussing sex at home.
This silence makes it difficult for them to obtain appropriate information, leading to hazardous conduct and misunderstandings. To break down these taboos and encourage informed decision-making, open discussion and thorough sex education are vital. This can help their general well-being and mental health as they negotiate the challenges of adolescence.
A recent judgement by the High Court of Kochi stressed the need for Safe Sex Education (28th July 2023, LiveLaw) when the single bench looked into a case involving a minor birthing a preterm baby from her sibling. “Sibling incest can occur in a family structure that does not offer a safe environment for its members. However, it may also occur due to a lack of information about safe sex,” the court concluded.
The High Court then directed the state government to form a committee to study the provision of adequate sex education in schools and universities.
Adolescents require up-to-date, age-appropriate knowledge about relationships, sexuality, consent, contraception, and sexually transmitted diseases. Misinformation is easily accessible in the digital era, making it even more critical for schools to impart accurate, evidence-based knowledge.
For example, in an episode of Never Have I Ever created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher on Netflix, teenagers talk casually about recreational sex. There’s a problematic scene when the protagonist Devi asks the most popular boy from school, Phaxton, "... I know you’d never be my boyfriend because you’re you and I’m me, but I was wondering if you’d ever consider having sex with me?"
There’s another Netflix series that deals with the different layers of complexities a teenager experiences when it comes to love and sex. Sex Education is the name of the series, and it talks about almost everything. Once we dive into this topic of Sex-Ed, it only keeps becoming more relevant. One video that reached our screens further emphasised the importance of sex education for minors, “Good And Bad Touch”.
You may have seen a video of a teacher from Bihar educating minors on “good and bad touch” with the intention of teaching them about consent from a young age.
Today, a lot of sex educators and counsellors are turning to their Instagram accounts to spread this discourse with the intention of reaching out to a wider, younger audience. Seema Anand, Coach Pallavi, Indian Sex Therapist, Dr Cuterus are a few creators who have stirred the space with their informative content, and here are some of their videos that caught our attention.
The debate over introducing sex education in Indian classrooms is never-ending. Whether India is still ready or not? Would it be appropriate to teach Sex Ed. in school? And most importantly, how are we planning to teach it? These are all relevant concerns, but it is also true that Sex in India was not always a taboo.
The Khajuraho temples. Menstruation rites at Kamakhya Devi temple are superb examples of historical sex education. We think the real question is how can we de-stigmatise sex ed? How can we start the conversation? And why are we still not asking questions?
Did You Know?
57% of teenagers are unaware of HIV penetration, Indian Journal of Pediatrics 2020. India accounts for 10% of worldwide adolescent pregnancies, according to research published by UNICEF in the year 2021. A lack of awareness about consent and reproductive health fuels sexual violence and misinformation. The need was also underlined in the State of the World Population 2021 report. In India, the National Crime Records Bureau estimates a significant increase in crimes against minors since 2019, with over 109,000 incidents reported in 2019.