“It all started when I was having a conversation with my niece. During the conversation I realised that any topics to do with sexual awareness such as sanitary pads, menstruation, the conception of children, sexual abuse and so on are still very much a taboo in India. I thought back to my biology classes in school. We did have chapters on human sexual organs but our teachers always avoided teaching us those topics by telling us that they were out of syllabus. Discussing such things with parents is very scandalous. I hadn’t paid attention at that time but now I realised that there is an appalling lack of awareness about these topics.
That is when I decided to start writing about it. It wasn’t easy at first. When I discussed it with my family, the older generation wasn’t impressed. In fact, they felt that talking about such things was highly inappropriate and some even felt that it would be boring. Other people that I discussed the idea with told me that I don’t have to start any such endeavour. ‘People already know what to do’, is the refrain I heard from some folks. I know, now, that this is not true. Someone I knew was absolutely terrified on her wedding night because she had no clue what to expect.
I first started writing a blog where I discussed these topics. The blog was quite successful. I, then, decided to start a website where these topics could be discussed in a manner that was However, I didn’t tell too many people about it initially. I wasn’t sure how my colleagues and all would react, so I waited till I got 500-600 likes before I broached the subject with them and told them what I was doing. The reaction was quite positive from that end. My cousins, too, were quite supportive of my efforts.
On my website, we try to increase awareness about sex in a culturally sensitive manner. We have discussed everything from menstruation and puberty to child abuse and marital rape. 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. I encouraged them to write about it on my website. Not all of them were willing to, which I quite understand, but a lot of them opened up and talked to me. Slowly, the interest in my website grew. Then someone suggested that I do a TED talk. At first, I was apprehensive. I went to the Facebook page and they encouraged me to post what I wanted to talk about. I wasn’t sure that mine was a very good topic but I told them about it eventually. They liked it and the next thing I knew I was delivering a TED talk on the Indian mentality with regards to sex education.
Since I come from a very conservative family, people often ask me how I came up with this concept. Well, the truth is that my parents are very broad-minded. I am the first woman in the family to have taken up petroleum engineering. I’ve gone and stayed on oil rigs as part of my job – this when women in my family haven’t even worked outside the house. So, I guess, in the end it was only natural that I would start an endeavour like this. Now I want to start forums on the website where people can post their questions and get answers. I even hope to start a closed forum where people can sign up for one-on-one counselling with experts via Skype and other such media.
Some friends tell me that I won’t be able to get married if I continue with this work. I want a life-partner who understands what I do and why I do it. If a guy were to raise objections I would probably tell him – ‘If I were a doctor or a gynaecologist, you wouldn’t mind me doing my work. I would still have to deal with the same things. ”