It is commonly believed that girls develop, both physically and mentally, sooner than boys do.
A 12-year old girl could very well have started blossoming into a woman while she is still playing with dolls and sleeping with stuffed toys.
What is important is that the young girl who is undergoing immeasurable changes in her mind and body be explained and guided through what is happening to her.
It is not unheard of in India that a girl be treated by her family and male-authority figures as a child while society (and that mostly refers to male strangers) begins to view them as women and by extension as available “meat”.
This creates a state of disequilibrium.
For instance, a young girl of 13, is told at home that she should play out in the streets with her friends, she is still bought things like bicycles and toys as birthday presents but when she walks in the street, all of a sudden she becomes a sex-object.
Imagine how disconcerting it could be for a young mind to be subjected to the desires of men that she has no frame of reference to.
As children, girls and boys are not required to make the distinction between genders. They co-exist peacefully and engage recreation-ally without any undertone of disequilibrium or sexual tension.
However, when we enter the early stages of adolescence the relationships and equations between young boys and girls begins to change.
If this change, which is really due to individual developments, is not properly explained to children, the long term ramifications could have a serious effect on the macro level.
Firstly, a boy who does not understand the changes in his body and desires, and is discouraged from talking about them could develop a deep sense of loathing for himself. It is natural for him to think there is something wrong with him and that his desires make him alien to the rest of society. This would also hinder his relationships with women.
The notions of gender and sexuality at this stage would come from peers who would most likely be as misinformed; this leads to skewed view of the opposite sex.
Women, even young girls, are often shamed for their desires. They are unable to relate to their bodies because they are uncomfortable in them from a very early age.
It is not surprising that physical interaction between men and women often takes the form of rape because they are never told what natural interaction is.
Instead of allowing children to discover in a safe and guided environment, we either pledge ignorance or propagate lies or our own opinions.