Those who are following news, chances are that you have heard of a former Rutgers student Ravi Dharun’s spying case. An Indian immigrant student, Dharun was convicted last week on charges of biased intimidation and invading privacy, emanating from his decision to set up a computer camera to spy on Tyler Clementi, his roommate at Rutgers. Two days and a few tweets (from Dharun) after the incident, Clementi commited suicide allegedly due to bullying.
The trial and subsequent conviction on Dharun drew national attention for its implications on privacy and gay bias, cyber bullying on college campuses. Many believed this was just college prank that went wrong whereas many others believed his was a perpetuated hate crime against gays.
There is no doubt that what Dharun did was wrong but at the same time it is important to view his case from cultural point of view. Like most children and even adolescents in India, He was also raised in a conservative environment where talking about sex and sexuality is a taboo. (I can say that confidently as none of the character witnesses –from Dharun’s and his father’s family friends- in favor of Dharun, mentioned talking about gay and lesbians).
According to me, talking about sexual orientation is secondary especially in the country where sex education is missing. First it is important to talk about and be comfortable with one’s own body and that can only be possible with sex education. Sadly there is no sex education incorporated in the education system in India. Also the collective denial of talking about this topic at home leaves the child to explore it through other sources that is friends, porn films etc. Often to avoid questions like where did the baby come from is answered by vague answers like ‘God left the baby in your mommy’s womb’.
If talking about sex is bad, talking about sexual orientation is crime. Legally, so far only the capital state in India has decriminalized gay sex after amending a century old law from the British era.
It is also true that, perceptions are changing. People are becoming more open about gay issues thanks to sustained efforts by media and activists. However this change in views are only restricted in metro cities.
In order to address the issue of homophobia on national level, sex education at the right time is very important. What are your views?