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Can Sexual Education Help Us Prevent Sexual Violence?

Aug 19,2022

Sexual violence is a prevalent concern in our society. It has become so common that people have accepted the heinous crime. In fact, many believe that it is inevitable and call it a Rape Culture. Using euphemisms, victim-blaming, and joking about sexual violence are the reasons that put people under the constant threat of being sexually assaulted. The major concern is that despite the detrimental impacts it creates on the victims, we hardly want to think about the ways that can help relieve their plight. Although numerous programs are being introduced to cater to the worsening conditions, the roots of the problem remain undiscovered and untouched. 

A policy paper by UNESCO's Global Education Monitoring Report highlights that every year about two million girls give birth and three million girls aged 15-19 go through unsafe abortions. The question that needs to be asked is, why does that happen?

A Lack of sexual education is one of the fundamental causes of these results. For example, in Afghanistan, 51% of the girls do not have adequate information about menstruation. The same is the condition in Malawi. However, a little worse with 82% of girls not knowing about menstruation. If women do not have education about their sexuality, then it becomes highly difficult for them to differentiate between inappropriate and appropriate sexual behaviors. Apart from the health consequences, it also results in a population surge that directly or indirectly puts us all under the threat due to unwanted pregnancies.  

How Can Sex Education Help Us Combat Sexual Violence? 

Sexual education, as people confuse it, does not only mean education about sex. On the contrary, it covers other aspects including introducing people to gender roles and the importance of consent. We have grown in a patriarchal society that teaches that males have a prevalence over females. Although anyone irrespective of their gender, color, caste, or creed can be a victim of sexual violence, women are the ones who experience sexual violence with adverse effects. As we are conditioned to think that males have sexual urges that need to be satisfied, we put them in a position of assaulting females/children. To avoid that, it is indispensable for people to understand the importance of consent. When a child says 'No' to a hug, it means 'No'. When a girlfriend or a wife does not give consent to sexual activities, it should be respected. Furthermore, children must know the difference between safe and unsafe touch which is possible only by teaching them their body parts and helping them draw a line between safe and unsafe touch. 

In addition, sexual education also teaches people to maintain healthy relationships where both the partners respect the other one's consent. Sexual dominance is not only physical but can also be experienced through verbal coercion, where the perpetrator persuades the victim for indulging in sexual activities. Almost one in ten females (120 million girls worldwide) have suffered forced intercourse or other forms of Intimate Partner Violence. When people have sufficient sexual education, they understand to respect the consent which plays a pivotal role in maintaining lasting and healthy relationships. 

Moreover, sex education can also help children know about their sexual orientation. The homophobic society that we live in and the prevailing stereotypes against the LGBTQ community make it difficult for them to understand their orientation. With the right sexual education, people become more tolerable of homosexuality, and the acceptance as well increases. Due to the lack of information that people have, it is often believed that everyone is heterosexual from birth. However, that is only the result of a lack of appropriate sexual education. Sex ed gives a much more inclusive image to students which lowers the chances of discrimination against people from the LGBTQ community. 

In addition, it is also important to connect sex with sexual pleasure which sex education teaches adults. There are numerous myths and false beliefs surrounding sex. Despite being in the 21st century, when it comes to sexual pleasure, people most often talk only about the 'male pleasure' and leave behind the 'female pleasure'. Apart from consent, sex ed also talks about female pleasure which helps maintain healthy and stable sexual relationships. 

Furthermore, it is also viewed that children should get sexual education at an early age. The reason is that by the time they reach a young age, they have already made their point of view and beliefs about most of the things around them (which are most often influenced by parents, teachers, and peers). If children acquire sexual education in their childhood, they learn to respect people's consent. They understand more about their bodies and ways to respect them which additionally helps them develop their self-esteem and distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate touches. 

Also, being a teenager is a time when love and relationships are inevitable. Moreover, a lack of sexual education leads to unwanted pregnancies, Teen Dating Violence (TDV), and STDs among adolescents. With appropriate education at a tender age, the chances of unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and TDV reduce substantially. Research by the University of Washington found that with the help of comprehensive sexual education teens are less likely to face unwanted pregnancies. It also helps youngsters understand the indispensable role that protection, like condoms, during sex plays.