By Sabrina Almeida
Everyone’s talking about Purvi Patel and how she has been sentenced to 20 years for foeticide by an Indiana court. While some laud the judgement many others, especially South Asian women, understand the circumstances that led to the dreadful act and sympathize with her. The fear of being found out often clouds any logic or sense of right and wrong.
Purvi was a victim of traditional beliefs. As her father testified in court any kind of sexual activity before marriage was absolutely taboo. While advocating abstinence is not wrong imposition of it can have disastrous consequences as we have seen in Purvi’s case. What parents want and children do are poles apart. We can reason with them but should we force them to conform and at what cost?
South Asians, and Indian’s particular, have often stood out for their “no sex please” policy. Ironically this philosophy only extends to talking about it. That’s why all the hullabaloo over Ontario’s new sex education curriculum. We seem to think that if we can sweep it under the rug it will stay there and our kids can walk around it without being touched by it.
Out of touch with reality
The reality is quite different. Abortions. Stories of botched attempts at home like Purvi’s and unsafe procedures at underground clinics or multiple legalized abortions are not uncommon both in India and or wherever we are in the world.
No doubt many of us parents would like our kids to wait till they get married but question is will they. It’s time to acknowledge that we live in a sexualized society. In fact, sex has always been a primal need. Look at Khajuraho temples or infamous Kama Sutra both of which had a healthy attitude towards it. Repression only raises its head in ugly forms.
With children maturing at a younger age and adults waiting longer to get married, pre-marital relations are almost inevitable. (Purvi was 33.) Is it not practical then to teach safe sex while advocating the benefits of abstinence? Just in case…
Lack of sex education
Purvi was educated and came from an affluent family as are many women who find themselves in a similar predicament. Lack of sex education or any conversation surrounding carnal relations leaves them totally unprepared for the reality. And they are literally left holding the baby. One woman who came from a conservative Indian family told me that she was so naïve that she believed even kissing could lead to a pregnancy. She was 24 at the time. I found that unhealthy.
Many of our generation did not have access to information and are denying their children the right to have it. Pulling children out of sex-education classes is a perfect example. Unfortunately this leads to misconceptions and forces them to turn to less desirable sources for answers. Or worse still, causes them to rebel and be promiscuous.
The uninformed are also easy prey as they can be easily lured, abused and coerced into silence.
Can parents really put tradition and family honour above the well-being of their children? Teen pregnancies abound both in Canada and India. What does that mean… that young adults are sexually active with or without parental consent? Some GTA clinics are only willing to speak off the record about the ethnicity of their patients and the revelations are shocking.
Many South Asian families (and other conservative immigrants as well) aren’t aware of their children’s sexual relations or refuse to acknowledge it. Either way it doesn’t mean that they are not having sex. Given that situation wouldn’t you want to prevent a situation like Purvi’s?
Let’s give our kids some credit and trust them to make the right choices. More importantly let’s be there to provide the right kind of help and support when things don’t go as planned.