I know this article is coming very late. It should have been delivered a few months back. However, my anger has not subsided yet.
I wanted to write about it especially when #internationalwomensday is being celebrated all over the world. You will agree with me that it is always the mother who shapes up the thoughts and action of a child. The first lesson a child gets is from his/her mother. She might teach her child by telling stories, assigning them duties, punishing them, helping them , mentoring them. So throughout our life at any one point of time we do remember her teachings and thank her for that. That’s the role mother play in our lives.
So I consider myself fortunate that my Ma taught me to be independent in thoughts, choice, opinions, finance, decisions just about everything I can think of at this moment. She had never questioned my abilities of decision making and taking its responsibility too. I might be correct or I might be wrong. But whatever the result, I know it’s mine and Ma had always been proud of me.
However, I have come across many girls and women who are not fortunate like me. They are dependent. Dependent on their folk be it father, husband, brother, friend or just about anybody else who influence their life in their thoughts, choice, opinions, finance, decisions just about everything I can think of at this moment. So it won’t come as a surprise to me if this article that I am writing after really getting furious, thoughtful and compassionate, won’t ever reach the people for whom I am writing this. Probably because they don’t use internet, they don’t read blogs, they don’t discuss topics like this or maybe it is not important for them at all.
Imagine a scenario. A girl in her teens getting ready to go out with her female friend. Maybe to tuition classes, birthday party, mall or just about anywhere where SHE IS ALLOWED TO GO AT THAT TIME OF THE DAY. Her mother’s words would be one of these, where are you going, this is not appropriate dressing, with whom are you going, come home in time. This I think every mother does to her daughter and there is nothing bad about it. For the sons the question set will be a little different or none at all. Anyways I won’t doubt a mother’s advice or questions to her child.
My article relates to a different scenario. A daughter experiencing her first menstruation cycle or maybe it is one of her best friend who is experiencing it for the first time. This is definitely a topic of discussion among the teenagers. It could be frightening sometimes like – I was leaking in the classroom or I stained my bed or I am not feeling well. For a girl who is new to this or hasn’t still gone through this phase yet is sure to have nightmares. I had too.
One of my classmate was married off suddenly. Well not really. It was a ritual which they were celebrating when the daughter bleeds for the first time. The ritual is almost like a marriage ceremony when all the relatives and friends are invited and bring gifts for the girl. The girl is dressed like a bride minus there is no bridegroom. She is confined to her room all the days of her first bleeding and none of the male member including her father is allowed to see her.
We were too young to understand all this and believed she was married off until she returned to the school after few days, a little embarrassed. She didn’t hide anything from us but what we understood from her tale was terrifying, for me at least. And then one day it happened to me. I started crying thinking something was wrong with me. As a dutiful mother my Ma answered, ”It’s okay! You are an woman now. ” Between the sobs I did ask her “Then what was I before?” She said, “You will understand when you grow up. Period.” That was her way of educating me about the most important phenomenon of my life . I don’t blame her because she too had learned the same way, when she grew up.
Like her there are lots of mothers who may have given more or less similar answers to their daughter’s query. I have come across women who are pretty confused as in how to address their teenage children regarding sex education. But why should I only bracket mothers here, it should be parents as a whole. Most of the parents shy off or shoo off or divert the questions of their teenage children regarding sex education. They leave it to the mercy of school or text books to educate their child regarding this topic or maybe in the hands of time.
In most school syllabus, Biology subject has chapters with elaborate understanding of human organs and its function. There is chapter on human genital parts and its function too. However, this chapter is mostly skipped in the classroom discussion due to our mental inhibition maybe. We are just not comfortable discussing it in the open. However, that does not stop the curiosity. In the absence of proper education these teenagers now either turn to internet or friends which unleashes a different zone all together. The world of half knowledge or fun and pleasure. So the most important education in a child’s life that is sex education is not taught at all but left at the hands of life’s experience or half knowledge.
From here I will go back to the girls. Those girls who are not allowed to make a choice. Turn eighteen they are pushed off to marriage. Mind it they have no knowledge of the most important education of their life and they are about to start a new chapter in their life. Here comes the Ma ki seekh again, mother’s teachings. “Be good to your mother-in-law, respect all the elders and give affection to all the young ones in your sasural, in-laws place, your man is everything to you now, always keep him happy. Don’t ever, do anything in your sasural that will bring bad name to your parental home.” Finally the innocent, young, sanskari, virtue, girl is off to her sasural amid vidai, a tearful journey of leaving her parental home.
So now what. Does she know anything about contraceptives or how to use it? How can she, she had never asked anyone before nor had anybody told her about it. Neither can she ever question her husband who himself may be in the same bandwagon as her. He is sankari too you see. So being a good wife she conceives within a month or two. Great celebration time! In our part of the world the next nine months people will ecstatically wait for the newborn to be a boy. What if it is not? That is a separate section altogether. So our good girl who is not even twenty years of age mothers her first child. And just like her mother, she will rephrase the lines to raise her child.
This scenario is not confined to the people of lower strata only. Educated from well to do families also have cases like this. But what if she was given sex education and all the information relating to it. She could have had a choice of actually parenting a baby according to her comfort level. At least a girl should be given this choice whether she wants to be a mother now or later because not just physically she has to prepare herself mentally also to raise a healthy baby. At least she should have a right to it.
But who will educate her of her right to motherhood or her choice. Her mother who had been her driving force behind all her thoughts? Her friends with whom she had shared so many secrets? Her teacher?
Sex education is also any child’s right and I feel it is first a mother’s duty to educate her growing child. Now how she can teach? She has to be bold enough to answer all the question her child might think of pertaining to that subject. If need be she should direct her child towards the right source from where the child can get complete knowledge about the subject. It should not be a taboo. It is a RIGHT