Heroes of Delhi: S-E-X, a three-letter word that is capable of attracting millions of disapproving glances in India. And the same goes for sex education.

We are living in a society where alcohol and cigarettes are sold openly but a packet of sanitary napkins is still handed over to us wrapped in newspapers; where abusing anyone openly is still normal but you still have to whisper the word ‘condom’ into shopkeepers’ ears; where fighting and ‘creating a scene’ is acceptable in public, but discussing sex is not; where men pissing in the open are acceptable but talking about sexual health is still not.

The adults always change the topic from sex to something else in front of their kids thinking they are too immature to know about it, while when the kids are in teenage the parents feel shy and awkward to discuss the same with them.

But why there is so much taboo or restriction on the topic of sex? Why can’t we discuss sex and sexual health like we discuss every other thing with the kids?

Well, the questions are many but the answer is one—MINDSET! We all have observed, we all have been taught that we are bound to live in this bubble, where sex is considered as nothing but a taboo.

And because of the same reasons, there are many kids who have to face consequences including sexual abuse at a very tender age, not being able to discuss some serious health problem, etc.

However, breaking all myths and shattering all stereotypes around the word SEX, there is this one superwoman who has taken it on her young shoulders to provide sex-education to the youth. Trending Delhi takes pride in introducing you to the 18-year-old girl who is on a mission to bring a change.

Niyati Sharma:

Niyati Sharma, the 18-year-old girl who is a resident of Delhi is breaking all myths around Sex. Niyati founded an organization called Pratisandhi who are spreading awareness about sexual health and education across India.

Pratisandhi is a Sanskrit word that has two meanings – a period of transition between two ages and also resistance. The primary motive of Pratisandhi is to promote conversations, dialogue, and awareness of sexual health and education in India, with a special emphasis on the lower strata of society. The organization is only a year old, but it has impacted more than 1000 students so far.

Recently, in an interview with Trending Delhi, Niyati Sharma shed light on her mission and how she has been giving Delhi kids the sex education they deserve.

Trending Delhi: What motivated you to start this journey of providing sex education to the students?

Niyati Sharma: My mother is a gynecologist, so I always grew up with a lot more exposure to information about sexual and reproductive health than most of my peers. Around the time of middle school, a lot of my friends would come to me with questions regarding periods pains, vaginal discharge, and concerns about the many myths around sex. Coming from a private school where most students came from very good backgrounds, I realized the reality of sexual health awareness among young people.

That’s what motivated me to start Pratisandhi and try to make this information easily available to adolescents because let’s face it, we can’t stop teenagers from behaving like teenagers but we can make sure they are safe and informed about the choices they make.

Trending Delhi: Living in a society, where sex is still a taboo. What obstacles did you face in your journey so far?

Niyati Sharma: So far I have been fortunate enough to not face any severe backlash for my work. We mostly work with adolescents and NGOs who tend to be very welcoming of knowledge in any form. We have seen a lot of teachers and schools who are hesitant but we take it with a pinch of salt and do our best. 

Trending Delhi: What do you think, where does the problem lies?

Niyati Sharma: I think the problem lies in shutting down the conversation at early stages. A lot of people are aware of sexual education but are afraid to express it while others may have never been exposed to the kind of information they should have been so they become more prone to believing taboos and stereotypes

Trending Delhi: So, how does ‘Pratisandhi’ works and what kind of sessions do you guys conduct?

Niyati Sharma: Pratisandhi currently functions on a two-tier model consisting of a small core team and a larger group of volunteers under this team. We discuss four different kinds of workshop modules for different age groups and undertake donation drives and events to reach more sections of society. 

Trending Delhi: Do you think that the stigma will end soon?

Niyati Sharma: I don’t know about soon but we are definitely on the way. There’s a lot that we can do at our own level and there’s a lot more than our education system can and should do. There’s a shift in the attitude of the youngsters especially in metropolitan cities but I think we are still a little far from genuine sexual literacy.

Trending Delhi: How can we, the people of Delhi help you in this mission of yours?

Niyati Sharma: People’s support is what keeps any initiative going, all we ask is that people try to keep an open mind and not shut-down conversations that don’t align with their beliefs.

I also want to encourage parents, teachers, and students themselves to take their health, especially sexual health and well-being seriously. We need to take our education in our own hands, there’s plenty of very good resources available online for different age groups and we need to actively try to educate ourselves in these rapidly changing times.

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Trending Delhi salutes Nitya Sharma and appeals to every citizen of Delhi to take the responsibility of doing something for the society.

 

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