Though the sex education is still a taboo in India; but the GEN Next Indians are striding forward faster than the others.
Sixteen year old Aparna Bhola is an aspiring gynecologist who gives sex education lectures to peers in Mumbai, Maharashtra, in India. She grew up in Kolkata and then moved with her mother, a sex worker, to the red-light district in Kamathipura. From a young age, Bhola was surrounded by women who were stigmatized for their profession and lacked support from the medical community.Her mother was sold into sex work for the equivalent of $120 when she was twelve years old and gave birth to Bhola at age fourteen. As the daughter of a sex worker, Bhola received little education, few medical resources, and was anemic due to malnutrition at times. She also drank alcohol heavily.
Bhola joined a women’s rights NGO called Kranti in July 2011. There, she received needed support and resources, learned how to teach sexual education classes, and battled with her alcoholism. Bhola’s goal is to attend medical school and change the system for the better. She is currently in twelfth grade and preparing for her medical school entrance exams.
“There’s nothing to giggle or be shy about; there’s no shame in it. It’s important for us to learn about these things. Be totally bindaas (carefree) and ask me questions,” says Aparna Bhola, with a wide smile.
She also represented Maharashtra state in the Youth Parliament, an advisory group to the state government, where participants recently discussed whether sex education should be introduced in Indian schools.
“I used to think that my whole world is within the four walls of my room, of the house,” says Aparna. “Now I see that there is a big, big world beyond that where many things are possible for me.”
“What I really want is that girls become powerful and aren’t scared of anyone,” says Aparna. “They should think in their minds that ‘I will go ahead and progress and no one can hold me back.”