Madhavi Making Easier For Parents To Have “The Talk” With Teens #SexEducation
A former senior reservoir engineer chances upon a normal scene which we see out playing in our homes too, but chose to ignore it. But, not Madhavi. CEO/Founder, That Mate, Madhavi Jadhav is on a mision to dispel myths around sex for adolescents, who are the most vulnerable and an ignored group.
A TEDx speaker, Madhavi Jadhav is a petroleum engineer by education. She has worked for Reliance, Schlumberger and Royal Dutch Shell on offshore rigs in the middle of the ocean. Madhavi quips that tough environment, almost negligible female company, working in shifts and above all just 2- 3 hours of sleep in the day were a norm. The routine was both mentally and physically tiring for her. But Madhavi adds, working under severe stress made her bossy and demanding but, it also taught an important lesson; When nothing works- put your head down and work.
“My niece got her periods when she was 11 years old. She asked her mother several types of questions like, why periods happen? Why they only happen to women? Can she get rid of them? Why it comes every month? My sister in law and my cousin, both were uncomfortable answering her questions. They were trying to dodge her questions. This made me think, even today in 2016, the situation is still the same.
Words like condom, sanitary pads are considered ‘taboos’ in my family. I thought my cousin and my sister in law, who are almost a decade older than I am, wouldn’t keep their kids uninformed as my parents did. However, when my niece asked these question and everyone in the family didn’t care to answer, I realized something had to be done.
Need to create sexual awareness among teenagers
Sex education is still very much a taboo in India. Parents get scandalized when it’s brought up. Teachers are uncomfortable discussing it in schools. And the internet is not always a reliable source.
This affects the kids consciously or subconsciously and typically has repercussions in the form of depression due to sudden physical and mental change which they are not properly aware of. Also, unprotected sex or incidents of sexual abuse don’t happen because of sex education, rather due to the lack of it.
I want That Mate to become a solution for all adolescent related health problems. I feel adolescents are the most ignored age group. We will be launching our comic books on topics like puberty, how babies are born, depression, anxiety, gender equality, teenage pregnancy etc, in June. We are also planning to conduct workshops for teenagers as well as their parents.
What I want to tell people is that the topic of sexuality doesn’t just cover the sexual act. It covers a wide range of topics including those that people have a tendency to completely ignore. For example, child abuse is something that a lot of people have undergone.
When I started my website and started talking about child abuse, I was surprised by how many people came up to me and confessed that they had been sexually abused as children.
We have conducted 10 workshops so far one for parents and other for kids. We have reached around 2000 kids. The response has been amazing with kids asking questions from, “I have some white mark on my body is that a sign of puberty?” amongst the college students the questions were. “I have a small penis size is that an issue?”
We generally conduct workshops for both boys and girls together. We do get resistance from the school authorities however we want them to know about puberty regardless of the gender they are.
Addressing the curiosity
Children of all age groups are curious to know about sex, periods and condoms. The advertisements and the physiological changes that happen in their bodies probe them to know more about it.
A lot of parents ask – “What would the children think of us once they get to know all this?” Let me tell you – this fear is totally unfounded. Most of the times this awkwardness is mostly in the minds of parents. Honestly – children are just curious. I don’t think children feel odd if it is presented in a mature manner as a law of living beings.
I plan on visiting schools and conducting sessions with kids as young as eight. I plan to collaborate with schools and NGOs to spread the awareness. The plan is to educate the kids and answer their queries through our forum. We also plan to have a one-to-one counseling session for the kids.