Not too many people know that the first time I ever made money on my own, it was from my original passion - creative writing. Flashback to November 1997. (Yes, it was that long back!) There was a magazine called Teens Today that I used to read regularly back then. They had a regular feature for which they invited readers to contribute full length articles, of which they'd pick one every month for publication. I made my attempt in, like I said, November 1997. And it was actually published in their January 1998 issue. It earned me my first pay cheque worth five hundred bucks, and a lot of recognition, appreciation, and criticism from my schoolmates. I wrote any number of pieces for my school magazine before and after that one, but this was what gave me an opportunity to bask in the limelight for a little while. I did this while we were all busy preparing for our pre-board exams and attending extra classes left, right, and centre in order to finish off the syllabus. So I'd actually been forced by my teachers to temporarily give up my almost full time job as the Editor-In-Chief of the school magazine. My desire to write was feeling suppressed, restless. And this was the outlet I found.
I was actually looking for my original, handwritten transcript (Because this dates back to a time when I didn't have very convenient access to a computer, except in the Computer Lab in school. And in class ten we did not even visit the Lab, because Computer Science was not a subject then, and supposedly that was a year to study seriously.) which I did not find, so I'll settle for the very slightly edited version that was actually published.
What follows is to be read in the light of the fact that I wrote it a little over ten and a half years ago.
Original Title: She's a Teenager, She's Pregnant, Whose Fault is it?
Teenage pregnancy is not very common in India, but in the US a large number of girls have such experiences. However, even in India, unmarried women do get pregnant while in, or after, college. Whatever may be the number of cases, the fact remains - teenage pregnancies are something that should not happen but do happen.
What I would like to discuss is, who is to blame and why. Is it the poor girl who has never seriously been told about contraception? Or is it the boy who is hardly any better informed than her, and even if he is, has developed the attitude that it's not his problem if she gets pregnant?
What I feel is, it is our society that is to blame. For, it is our social stigmas that prevent us from talking frankly about subjects like sex. But, why on earth do we have this bias against sex education or even against talking parent-to-teens on the subject? And then parents feel bad if their daughter gets pregnant before marriage! They feel worse if she doesn't tell them about it. In my view, every girl will tell her parents about such things if they do not hesitate to tell her the facts of life in the first place. If they don't even tell her that much, why should they expect her to take the initiative of talking about a subject like the birds and bees? Parents should make the first move towards bridging the generation gap and moving towards frankness.
Anyway, my main question is, why don't we talk about sex and contraception openly enough? Sex is what makes life continue - it is the major contributor to our very existence. It's something life cannot be sustained without. And above all, it's absolutely illogical to hide these facts from your kids because, even if you don't tell them, they'll get to know from somewhere else after a while. But they ought to hear it from you, even if not in complete detail, the very first time they ask you - it's your duty to tell them.
Times are changing. Just because your parents told you nothing till you were, say, twenty, doesn't meant you won't tell your kids till that age.Today's teenagers need to know everything there is to know by the time they are about fourteen to fifteen years old. Because, if kids don't know the facts, they tend to adopt wrong ways. And then the kids are blamed. What I feel is that teenagers indulge in sex because they are curious and are not given adequate or proper information. They have to satisfy their curiosity somehow. And if the theoretical way is not made accessible to them, they adopt the practical way - which is not considered acceptable by our society.
I feel that if we wish to make our society a liberal one, our first move should be to encourage sex education and awareness about sex and contraception. And it is not to be forgotten that though journals and books do have a contribution to make in this direction, the role of the parents can be played only by them. Parents have to tell their kids quite a few things that they alone can talk about.
When parents expect their kids to adopt good morals and ethics, they tell them about moral principles. They tell them about discipline. So why don't they tell them about sex? Is sex a crime, or is it something only social outcasts indulge in? Why is it that despite the fact that parents and kids need to talk it over, we feel embarrassed when we talk about it or even think about it or hint that we want to talk about it? If people can toilet-train their kids, why can't they sex-educate them?
Liberalisation is not just modernisation and being able to think about something from someone else's point of view. It's about removing the ills of society by talking openly and frankly and bridging all kinds of communication gaps, whether created by society or by personal opinions. And sex education and being open and frank about the subject is about the most important step towards a liberal, and better society.