Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: After being embroiled in a row over saying that promoting condom usage is not enough to prevent AIDS, Union Health Minister on Friday tried to water down a controversy over his views on sex education expressed on his personal website on education.
Harsh Vardhan has received a flak from the people ranging from opposition parties to Bollywood for his vision document for Delhi schools which says: "So-called `sex education` to be banned. Yoga to be made compulsory.”
Shortly after the ENT doctor was condemned for his views, the Health Minister issued a press statement in which he “comprehensively denied that he proposes a ban on sex education”.
The minister, who is presently on an official visit to the United States, said: “I am a medical professional who has embraced rationalism and I whole-heartedly support pedagogy that is scientific and culturally acceptable. Anything abrasive to common sensibilities and articulated as such by responsible persons should be discarded and replaced by consensually accepted learning processes.”
He further clarified that the view expressed on the website was made in the context of the UPA government’s 2007 decision to introduce the Adolescence Education Programme (AE) in its original form.
Taking on the UPA, the Minister, without equivocation, said, “Crudity and graphic representation of culturally objectionable symbols as manifested in the UPA’s so-called sex education programme cannot be called sex education.”
Dr Harsh Vardhan summed up, “Sex education that builds societies free of gender discrimination, teenage pregnancy, HIV-AIDS proliferation, pornography addiction, etc. should be the goal.”
The Health Minister had to earlier issue a statement, denying opposing promotion of condoms, and said a combination of condoms and abstinence was needed to fight HIV/AIDS.
The New York Times had quoted the minister as saying that he would like to see a change in the way that the government promotes awareness about AIDS and HIV, with more emphasis on "promoting the integrity of the sexual relationship between husband and wife", which he said was "part of our culture".