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Dr Mahinder Watsa passed away earlier today, however, none of us will forget the wit with which he dealt with the taboo topic of sex!
Popular sexologist and columnist Dr Mahinder Watsa passed away at the age of 96 on 28th December in Mumbai. A trained obstetrician-gynaecologist, he began his career as a columnist in the 1960s when he started writing his ‘Dear Doctor’ column in a women’s magazine.
Since the beginning of his career, he contributed a great deal towards normalising the conversation around sex. In a traditional, patriarchal country like India, people usually get squeamish, or even violent, when discussing something like sex which is an integral part of one’s life.
This pushes relevant conversations about sexual health to the background. Dr Watsa recognised the problem and dedicated his life towards creating and sustaining the dialogue with wit and elan.
In a country that holds its traditions and sanskaars very close to its heart, sex education is often something that is completely ignored or never talked of. Thus, leading to sexual violence, as well as misconceptions about sex, pleasure, and sexuality among others.
The lack of sex education also leaves to the youth, in particular, without the proper knowledge or safer options. Thus increasing the risk of STDs and unwanted pregnancies. Dr Watsa made sure to initiate conversations around sex, sexuality and consent in order to have a more sexually aware and liberated society.
Not only that, in his clinical practice, Dr Watsa’s was a non-judgemental and professional approach that was inclusive of all genders and sexualities. An approach like this is definitely what made him stand out and become the pioneer that he was.
At the age of 80, he started working with the Mumbai Mirror and wrote the ‘Ask the Sexpert’ column. It attracted a lot of censure, hate and even lawsuits. The last, mostly as the conservative section of the population failed to acknowledge the relevance and importance of his work.
He touched a lot of lives throughout his life, bringing awareness about sexual health. Dr Watsa also gave importance to the pleasure part of sex that is always kept under the wraps when anyone talks of sex.
The 2017 Netflix documentary ‘Ask the Sexpert’ follows his pioneering contributions to sex education. It also showcases his attempt to convince India to directly address the dismal state of awareness around the very human experience of sexualities.
Due to these open conversations around sex, the traditional views of toxic masculinity are challenged and the need for equal relationships is recognised. When the significance of pleasure is acknowledged, the orgasm inequality in heterosexual relationships and their reasons are also explored.
As the taboo around sex kept people from sharing their experiences and issues with anyone, Dr Mahinder Watsa came to their rescue. Over the years, he addressed the questions of thousands of people looking for the much-needed clarity that the lack of sex education left in its wake.
Recognising the adverse effects of the absence of sex education, he closely worked with the Family Planning Association of India to structure a course. He also translated his life-long goal into his organisation Council of Sex Education and Parenthood International (CSEPI).
On his demise, his family shared with The Quint that he has always lived his life gloriously and on his own terms. And the nation knows that in his wake, he has left the country more liberal and understanding of sexual needs, behaviours and experiences.
Picture credits: Still from Culture Trip’s video feature about Dr Mahinder Watsa on YouTube
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An undergraduate student of Political Science at Presidency University, Kolkata. Describes herself as an intersectional
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