Why is it so hard for South Asian parents and children to talk about sex?

Mississauga, December 11 (CINEWS): Most South Asian kids will tell you that any talk or reference to sex is virtually taboo in their homes. Khajuraho and Kamasutra aside, we’re simple not comfortable discussing the birds and the bees (note my deliberate metaphor). This has not changed even for the millennials, hence our children are likely to hesitate to come to us to clarify their doubts let alone bring unsavoury experiences or any type of sexual assault to our attention. That should scare us more than talking about sex.sex-ed11
A recent report in the CBC about a woman from the Tamil community who spoke out about being sexually assaulted to breakdown the stigma, regurgitated that often buried fact. That she spoke with her university counsellor and friends before taking it to her parents is not all surprising. Neither was the prolonged initial silence and breakdown in communication when she finally shared her experience with them.
Most South Asians I know might be slightly less traumatized talking to their families about than being cross examined in court of law.
Sex is something we like to keep in a safe deposit box. Hence many offspring grow up totally uniformed and ignorant of act and run the risk of being taken advantage of. A young lady from Scotland spent years being abused by a family friend whenever he spent the night in their home. She could never bring herself to tell her parents about it. She finally spilled the beans to an aunt on a recent visit to India. It wouldn’t be farfetched to assume that the perpetrator was counting on her silence.
The discomfort manifests itself in childhood as parents resort to disguised words when referring to genitalia. Terms like penis and vagina hold the same context as profanities. A victim of such upbringing myself, use of correct terminology by the little ones here still resounds in my ears. Hopefully I have not tarred my children with the same brush.
I remember freezing in my tracks when one of mine excitedly announced that he knew where children came from in Grade 1. I hesitated to ask what exactly he was told.
Perhaps we ought to be schooled in the difference between sexual explicitness and what is just necessary, normal talk. Here’s where sex education can play a major role in lifting the blinds. Access to factual information and a healthy attitude should not be misconstrued as lewd. Procreation is after all a natural process on which the survival of our species depends.
Many friends have shared experiences where they were taken advantage of by family members. The fear of how their parents might react prevented any possibility of ending their ordeal. In one particular case both the boys and girls were victimized by an uncle.
As most women in India, especially, have experienced gender abuse of some kind, it is ironic that they should not attempt to protect their kids by educating them about it.
Is our misplaced sense of sexual values more important than the physical and emotional well-being of our kids? One negative experience is all it takes to bring life to a complete halt. And what do most of us do when we find out… pretend it never really happened.
Many South Asians tend to equate any education or conversation about sex with giving the green light for promiscuity. Yet they do not necessarily exercise the same restraint when exposing their kids to domestic violence, drugs or alcohol.
The recent protests against the new Ontario sex-ed curriculum once again demonstrates our discomfort and lack of judgement. Hence we have many unfortunate ones who in the absence of any contraception and sex education turn to abortions.
Do parents really prefer to be kept in the dark about their children’s sexual activities rather than school them about safe sex? Let’s not kid ourselves, hormones rage in all young boys and girls even South Asian ones. Additionally when sex is taboo it seems to fuel greater curiosity and a desire for exploration.
We ought to take a cue from Bollywood which is totally at home with portraying sex as a natural consequence of marriage or any romantic relationship for the matter.

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