Friday, December 23, 2005

The ABCD of sex

Permission to reprint or copy this article must be obtained from The Hindustan Times

The country’s one and only sex museum answers all doubts
By Shevlin Sebastian\Mumbai

The first thing you see when you enter Antarang, India’s one and only museum of sex, is a page from the Kama Sutra. “Vatsayana talks about the wonders of sex, how it helps to bring a man and a woman together and about the power of sexual energy,” says Bhanudas Mohite, a counsellor at the museum. There are models showing the cross-section of the vagina, the penis, the breast, the brain and the uterus. On a low table, there is a painting, which traces the journey of a sperm from the sac of the penis all the way to the uterus of the woman, till it meets an egg. The museum, on traffic-choked Jehangir Boman Behram Road, was started in October 2002 and is a joint collaboration between the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and Mumbai Districts Aids Control Society.
“The idea is to make sex education and awareness of HIV available to the public,” says Dr Shah, who is in charge of the museum and a STD clinic, both housed in the same building. “But, so far, we are not happy with the response. Sex is still regarded as a stigma.” An average of 30 visitors come every day, ranging from students, couples and members of NGOs. There are three counsellors to explain the different sections and a female counsellor for women. “Most students enjoy it because it clears doubts in a scientific manner,” says Shah. “In our culture, parents don’t talk about sex with their children. They get the wrong information from friends or porn magazines.”
He says married couples also come to clear their doubts while foreigners, who are regular visitors, tell him there is nothing like this in their countries. You step into a gap between mirrors, which are placed at the front and back, above and underneath. When you look in the mirror, you see several selves. “This is what happens when you don’t use condoms,” says Mohite. “The population just explodes.” It is a nice way to convey a point.
As expected, there is a section on AIDS: the widespread misconceptions, how it spreads, and what are the precautions that need to be taken. There are graphics on the various stages of pregnancy and childbirth and detailed explanations on how to use condoms and diaphragms and Copper T. It is only when I see photos of sexually transmitted diseases—gonorrhea, syphilis and genital herpes—that I recoil. It is too much. “This is the normal reaction of people, especially students and women,” says Mohite. “But we persuade them to look again. Because, then, you will not indulge in unprotected sex.”
The only drawback is that all the information is in Hindi, so if you don’t know how to read the language, you will have to depend on people like Mohite. Nevertheless, it is a nice way to learn about sex in a clean and healthy manner

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