By Sadia Noor Joya
Back in 2015 when I was in eighth grade, I sat for the ILSC exam, which stands short for International Primary and Lower Secondary Curriculum, conducted by the Pearson Edexcel British Council; it is not a compulsory exam and comprises coursework of Science, English, and Maths from the previous three grades.
At that time, this particular exam was just introduced and my batch was the first one to sit for this exam from our school. We had to borrow books from our juniors and make copies of important chapters so that we can study them. Surprisingly, we came across an incident that was ‘not allowed to be talked about in classrooms’, and definitely not in front of teachers!
Soon, we heard that certain pages of the sixth-grade science textbook were stapled as they featured topics that were not to be discussed in schools, not to be learned by students, and last but not the least, not to be confronted by teachers!
Uh uh, don’t get me wrong. Not that we disobeyed our teachers and dug out the mystery pages to entertain ourselves, we had to unravel the veil from the mystery pages anyway. We were eighth-graders, teens, we had the right to know why we were denied to study a chapter that was included in our syllabus and was declared as ‘not important.’
The only thing that we discovered was an image that was the center of attraction: it was of a couple who were doing it, not in some position that you would immediately start to fantasize as you would see the image. Considering our current situation in Bangladesh, it seems to be inappropriate for a sixth-grader to witness such an image which might be disturbing in the first place. I am not promoting the decision to circulate that image but one thing surely comes to my mind. Does the knowledge of sex education necessarily have to be accompanied by that particular image in order to be delivered to us teens?
Of course, not. If the teachers wanted it, they could have discussed the sensitive matter without the need for that image or any such images. What did they exactly do? They spoke with the officers working at the British Council in Dhaka, stapled those pages, said that they had inappropriate things, and declared the chapter ‘not important.’ End of story.
Those particular pages didn’t talk about the reproduction process in humans in detail. The reason it was included in that book was that the book was designed in the UK and they thought that it was the perfect age to educate kiddos about sex education. Also, it was clearly stated in that book that we would learn about it in detail in later classes.
Interestingly, our science teacher opened up to us. He ridiculed that action as he thought that students these days were more accustomed to real people indulged in that activity rather than the strokes of pen and pencil on the textbook pages that were stapled firmly. He even told us not to be hesitant regarding any matter, to share everything with him, and that he would always be there to guide us. He used to make us write down his email address and phone number, in case we were ashamed to talk to him in school. Sir, if you are reading this today, which I know you are, then please know that all of your sayings strike us hard till today and we respect you for being the one to guide us in all the ways of our lives.
Speaking of which, our science teacher took the time to dive deep into our minds and provided us with the much-needed essence that would be beneficial for our lives. Why don’t other teachers follow the teacher-student bond that he used to connect to us? In reality, to put knowledge in our minds, they certainly don’t need a textbook. Just a dash of self-affirmation should be enough.
Do we have any more to add to the outcome of the lack of sex education in schools in Bangladesh after witnessing what happened with Aurna? A person died, not just in any simple way but by losing a gallon of blood. She was raped and bled to death by the person she loved. It shatters my heart, gives me a feeling that someone really close to me endured a painful death. Reading the news over and over again, I pray to Almighty Allah that no other girl or boy dies before fulfilling her or his dreams and aspirations.
This is 2021, Bangladesh. It’s high time we need to normalize sex education in order to prevent any more losses of lives. We need to educate people about the seven-letter word ‘consent,’ what it means and how important it is in order to establish a physical relationship with your partner. When your wife says NO, it is NO, a big NO. Don’t dare to force yourself on your wife to show your masculinity because that’s NOT masculinity. That is known as rape, which is a crime. Don’t we know that the victim is never at fault here?
And I strongly believe that there will be a day when victim-blaming would cease, the entire rape culture would be extinct and the guilty would be punished so hard that no one would dare to commit such a brutal act. It’s just a matter of time for the goodness to counterattack the evil. And together we can do that.