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Watching Indian School: Girl talk

Updated Wednesday, 20th June 2007

Billie Kokhbar finds that, in spite of cultural differences, South Asian and European schools face similar issues with regard to sex education, gender stereotypes and internet dating.

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As Joe Jackson said “Don’t you know that it’s different for girls?” This episode examines the areas of gender equality, sex education and internet dating! A heady mix that’ll resonate with anyone involved in the British education system. The same issues that preoccupy teachers and students in the UK are as prevalent in India.

There’re some very strong role models in the film but they’re caught in the turmoil and contradiction of life. There is equality, but within written and unwritten rules. The girl whose brother acts as her bodyguard is a spirited person who you can sense is feeling trapped in her lifestyle. Interestingly, the parents are happy for her brother to have the mantle of ‘protector’. Everybody falls in with the gender stereotypes and tellingly their father says the boy can do whatever he wants. You can observe the same types of brother, sister relationships in the UK acted out at home, schools and universities every day.

One of the teachers says ”I am 25 and need to get married.” This illustrates very well the pressure that’s heaped upon parents and their children to do everything correctly and within the prescribed timescales.

The sex education was quite liberated and graphic. This in itself seems a contradiction in that this often taboo subject is addressed without too much concern. Yet the cultural niceties around marriage and dating are far harder for families to come to terms with and accommodate.

 

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