To: the Government of India, All Political Parties and All Citizens
WE MUST RECALL that India is a signatory to the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the Child, which upholds amongst others, the
right of every child to the highest attainable standard of health, the
right to education, the right to participation and the right to
protection from exploitation and abuse, including sexual exploitation
HEALTH COMPRISES SEXUAL HEALTH AS WELL. According to the World Health
Organization, the overall health of a person is not dependent on the
absence of disease or infirmity alone and instead is a state of complete
physical, mental and social well-being. This includes sexual and
WHAT DO STATISTICS SHOW?
- According to the National Family Health Survey III, 44.5% of women
in India still get married by the age of 18 years (28.1% in urban
areas and 52.5% in rural areas).
- Further, 16% of the women interviewed within the age of 15–19
years were already mothers or pregnant at the time of the NFHS survey.
- According to the HIV Sentinel Surveillance and HIV Estimation, of
the 2.5 million people living with HIV/AIDS in 2006, 3.8% were
reported to be children (<15years), with the percentage having
increased over 5 years.
- According to a study in 2007 commissioned by the Ministry of Women
and Child Development in India, out of a total of 12,447 children,
53.22% reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse that
included severe and other forms. (Among them 52.94% were boys and
With statistics such as these, it is imperative that young people’s
sexuality be acknowledged and addressed and they be provided with a
supporting environment to talk about sexuality related concerns. Above
all, it is important that young people be empowered to make responsible
decisions about their own lives.
TARSHI’S HELPLINE EXPERIENCE
- 43,888 of calls on the TARSHI helpline between February 14, 1996
and October 10, 2007 were analyzed which showed that 42.6% of calls
are from people between the ages of 15 and 24 years.
- Young callers are curious about sexuality and most times do not
have access to accurate and reliable information about their own
bodies, sexual and reproductive health issues and relationships.
- Calls received from people including young people asking “does
kissing cause conception” reflect that they lack very basic and
important information on sexuality.
WE CALL UPON concerned individuals and organizations to join us in
appealing to our political leaders to take action on adhering to the
promises made when ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights
of the Child in 1992.
WE URGE our political leaders, the Government of India and especially
the Ministry of Human Resource Development, The National AIDS Control
Organisation (NACO) and all concerned authorities to affirm young
people’s rights to information, to the highest attainable standards of
health, and ultimately, their right to life itself.
WE DEMAND the urgent revision of the AEP (Adolescent Education Programme)
curriculum on sexuality education for all children to be reflective of
the “best interests of the child” rather than proscribing narrow notions
of morality, culture and tradition. This would be the first step in
creating a comprehensive sexuality education that is gender-sensitive,
age-specific and free from negative value judgements which is essential
to help young people lead lives free of fear, disease and violence; and
to enjoy physical and mental health and wellbeing.
WE DEMAND more transparency in the process of developing a curriculum,
and the participation of young people in developing the curriculum in
accordance with children’s right to participate in programmes and
policies that directly affect their lives and futures.
WE URGE for a serious show of commitment by the Government by initiating
a systematic process involving various stakeholders including
professionals, parents, young people and educationists, to develop a
comprehensive sexuality education curriculum for children and to include
sexuality education training in the curricula for trainee teachers and
healthcare professionals including doctors and nurses.
CARAT and GFATM Round 7 Project,
Tata Institute of Social Sciences; Centre for Development
Christian Medical College, Vellore;
International Services Association;
Mahila Sarvangeen Utkarsh Mandal; Naz Foundation India Trust;
RAHI Foundation; Point of View;
Sama Resource Group for Women and Health;
Sampada Grameen Mahila Sanstha; The YP Foundation;
Tulir - Centre for the Prevention and Healing of
Child Sexual Abuse;
Veshya Anyay Mukti Parishad; Youth for Change, UP;