Comprehensive Sexuality education is Right to information; Denial is discrimination!

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Sex has long been taboo for implicit reasons, any word attached to “sex” is stigmatised, and people become hyperventilated.  People’s understanding of sexuality differs from each other; most understand sexuality as a synonym of sex and for them, comprehensive sexuality education is a method to teach about sex and sexual acts. Hence this confusion and trauma dismisses parents, teachers to be open and gather knowledge and question rigid barriers that impede access to information and 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 center during my late adolescent, where I could question without being judged, learn without hesitation and access the information that is not easy to locate. The youth-friendly platform allowed me to explore other sources of information about my sexuality, sexual and reproductive health rights, and a wide array of my life and well-being.

The youth information center opened avenues for me to claim my rights as an adolescent, right to information and equipped enough to defy harmful traditional practices in my own home and make informed choices. Today, with the right information, I feel very empowered and confident to lead my life without any risk and can bring about change in other people’s life too. Hence, this pretty much challenges parents and teachers not to compromise our access to information to feed in their ignorance and social status.

I wonder who defines our culture and regulates it; “sexuality is an insult to our culture”. I strongly believe that the right to information should not be denied on grounds of culture and religion. Subsequently, comprehensive sexuality education is not a privilege, but our human rights which should be accessible to all, regardless of their class, caste, gender identity, sexual orientation, geography or any social background.

Likewise, comprehensive sexuality education should not be limited to school system; but children and youths out of school should also be able to access it, in fact, it should start from home.  The denial itself is discrimination and this discrimination can lead to other forms of discrimination and 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 2015 has also ensured the right to information as a fundamental right in Article 27 under the title, Fundamental Rights and Duties. People from different generations with significant age differences share the same story of denial of sexuality education. The sexuality education of the present time should also rise above heteronormativity and gender binary by interfacing issues of the intersection of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. And finally, sexuality education must be embraced as human rights than disease prevention.

Pushpa Joshi, Youn Feminist Activism Team member, LOOM

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