By Hilary White

NEW DELHI, June 12, 2009 ( – The Indian government has rejected western-style sex education programs, saying they do nothing to solve the problem of teenage pregnancy but only exacerbate the problem by promoting sexual promiscuity.

A government report on the matter was issued in response to a citizen-launched petition against a decision by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) to start sex-education in schools. The program had been touted as a means of preventing the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Materials for teachers and facilitators in India included explicit details about “alternative methods” of sex, including anal and oral sex, presented as a means of avoiding AIDS.

According to the government, the curriculum prepared with material from UNICEF, had “shocked the consciences” of the country and was described as “quite frightening.” If implemented, the report said, it would “promote promiscuity of the worst kind.” The report was issued in March by a committee of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament, and says that the introduction of sex education in India’s schools should at least be delayed until the issue has been fully debated in public.

The Indian government’s reasoning stands in sharp contrast to that of the West, which, in reaction to steadily increasing rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, has invariably increased access to free contraceptives and abortion and exposed ever-younger children to more explicit sex education.

The testimony of witnesses and petitioners upon which the report was based was a stinging critique of the effects that such programs have had in the countries that have embraced them. The petitioners told the committee that the proposed curriculum would “strike at the root of the cultural fabric of our society that had been nourished over the millennia.”

If implemented, the petitioners said, the program would “corrupt Indian youth and lead to collapse of the education system.” Over all, they said, such programs are nothing more than an “education to sell condoms” that will lead to the creation of an “immoral society” and to an increase in single-parent families.

The report accused the HRD ministry, in its efforts to quash the petition, of using “technical jargon and euphemisms” in order to downplay the fears of the petitioners.

So explicit was the material in question that in the process of their submissions to the committee, petitioners had been asked not to give a PowerPoint presentation because the committee was “not comfortable with it and [it] could be embarrassing especially to the lady Members and other lady staff present.”

Petitioners had pointed to the increasing rate of teenage pregnancies in other countries, noting that in France, schools are equipped with nurses to distribute “contraceptive pills” to girls the morning after “unsafe sex.” The report also noted the situation in the UK, in which schools are “connected to abortion centres to terminate teenage pregnancies.”

Pratiba Naitthani, a co-petitioner and teacher, told the committee that “nothing was safer than abstinence till marriage.”

To read the full report, click here.