Wednesday 22 December 1999

Aleksandr Shchipkov, Keston News Service.

On 29 October the Kirov regional court of St Petersburg heard a complaint
brought by LYUBOV KACHESOVA against the authorities of school No 493
in St Petersburg, where her twelve-year-old daughter Irina is currently a
student. Lyubov Kachesova is an Orthodox Christian. She is demanding that
the school cease its sex education programme, which includes the explanation
of masturbation techniques to the children. Kachesova considers masturbation
to be a sin: in Genesis Chapter 38 it is described as �an evil in the eyes of the
Lord�. KNS was present at the hearing.

According to the documentation brought before the court, on 3 March 1998,
teacher of biology LARISA VODNEVA showed a cartoon film to her students
entitled �What is happening to me?� The film has been produced by the
company �Organon� (a manufacturer of contraceptives) and is being distributed
to secondary educational establishments by the Russian Family Planning
Association. The showing of the film is not included in the curriculum
approved by the Russian Ministry of Education, although it was shown by
permission of the principal of the school, GALINA KHOMOVA, during
compulsory teaching time as part of the sociology programme.

The authors of the film, using cinematic animation techniques, promote the
practice of masturbation. Lawyer YURI NOVOLOTSKY, acting for the
complainant, states that if a man approached a twelve-year-old girl in the street
and used such explicit language he would face criminal charges for the
corruption of minors.

Lyubov Kachesova, a construction engineer by profession, is bringing her son
and daughter up in the Orthodox tradition. She believes that chastity should be
the norm and that early sexual relationships and sexual experimentation are
harmful to the psychological and moral health of her children.

During the court hearing, the head teacher of the school, Galina Pakhomova,
stated that �the cartoon has an educational character� and emphasised that
�alongside the educational process there is an element of moral education
which exists within the curriculum plan for the year. The teacher determines
what discussion, activity or lecture to conduct with the pupils.�

In a discussion with Keston News Service, Lyubov Kachesova gave the
following assessment of the current situation: �It is lunacy to say that teaching
about masturbation is part of the educational process. Parents who are of sound
mind do all that they can to protect their children from early sexual
involvement and teach them that such activity does not benefit them. The
school had always backed the parents on this issue. Now an educationalist is
attempting to help young people to �enjoy their sexuality�. Children are being
taught that sexual activity among school students is the norm and any parental
discussion of the value of chastity and virginity is seen as stupid and
groundless. Religious views and family values are being undermined along
with the authority of parents. The concept of shame is seen only as false

Lyubov Kachesova believes that the showing of this film in Russian schools
infringes the right of parents to bring their children up in accordance with
Christian values. Lawyer NOVOLOTSKY states that the showing of this
cartoon film is part of an experimental programme of sex education in Russian
schools taking place in 220 towns across the Russian Federation, initiated by
the Russian Family Planning Association. This experimental programme is
being conducted without obtaining the prior agreement of parents: Novolotsky
states �I defend the right of parents to decide whether people have the right to
experiment with their children�s education without their consent.�

Novolotsky is a senior lawyer in St Petersburg and his advocacy on behalf of
Kachesova has received widespread publicity. Novolotsky is taking a
principled stand on this issue, and is charging no fee for his work on the case.
He has openly declared his intention to win the case and create a legal
precedent whereby Christian parents will be able to insist on the right
established by a court of law to educate their children according to Christian

After an eight-hour hearing judge YELENA PLENOVA decided to defer the
case for a month. (END)

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(c) Keston Institute 1999