Thursday, 18 August 2016

“Where do babies come from?”

‘Love is a name
Sex is a game
Forget the name
And play the game’
I had always seen a beautiful girl falling in love with a handsome hunk in Bollywood movies, but it took me a long time (probably now also I am wondering what exactly is love? hmm tough question!) to decipher this feeling known as love and yes it was beyond what is being shown in movies and television.
Glimpses of the workshop
It's interesting that while designing the session on love, sex and relationship, I was reflecting a lot on my adolescent years. Biology was my favorite subject but the specific chapter of reproduction system was never taught, and sex was always a big forbidden word! It was a big stretch for me to design and facilitate this session with the adolescents, my mind kept reminding me how important it is for us to talk about these tabooed topics so that they get right information at the right age.

We began by understanding the different kinds of relationships that exists in our lives, apart from family and friends’ participants also shared love, boyfriend and girlfriend as important relations. That was definitely a motivating beginning to an intense session.
To dive deep, the participants were invited to share about the relationship they like most? And the relationship they would like to keep it to themselves? The answer ranged from mother, family, sister, brother to friends. To explore the behaviors and impact of various relationships in our lives, the participants were divided into 4 groups and discuss about the conversations they have with different relations and is there any difference in their behavior with them and their sister/brother?

“In my family, women have no say in family decisions”, shared a 14 year old girl. “I am the youngest in my family, no family problems are discussed in front of me. But I have seen talking about problem”, shares 12 year old boy. This sharing left me wondering about my own assumptions, we think they are kids, they don’t know what is happening but in reality they see, hear, observe and have questions!
Discussion on relationships
But most of the times they are asked to remain quiet leaving behind unanswered queries. To sum up I shared that there are majorly 2 types of relationships- one which is there with us since our birth like family, grandparents, siblings and others that we chose during course of our life like friends, love and partners.

This was followed by a story of a girl studying in 8th standard who gets attracted by a boy studying in her tuition classes. I was stumped by the responses of the participants. “I had to collect some stuff from 3rd floor in the school, I saw a boy kissing a girl. I felt weird, without saying anything I left”, shared a 15 years old boy. “So what if boy kissed her, it was both boy and girl’s mistake, after all she was attracted to the boy, she loved her that’s why boy kissed her”, shared another participant. “I would have slapped the boy if he would have kissed me. We have just become friends, every relationship grows with time, he should have asked before kissing that’s not right”, shared 13 years old participant.
“Didi, one of the boy came and kissed my friend. I asked her whether he is her boyfriend. She said no, and also told me that he is after her and says that he loves her! Is this love?” these questions just validated our intervention with adolescents.
Movie time

Through 3 different films we learned, discussed and shared on Sex, pregnancy, masturbation and condoms. The film series is based on the sex chat between a father and his 11 year old son where in father through various metaphors and examples help his child understand otherwise tabooed topics so that he gets correct information. Interestingly a 10 year old boy who was playing in the library slowly came in and sat down to watch the film. He surprised me when he said, “Just like when we sow seed in the soil it grows as plant, exactly the same way child is born, when a seed is inserted in mother’s womb.” The participants were grabbing information from session on puberty and menstruation and linking it to how babies are born!
Through discussion, they understood why even uttering the word sex brings shame and guilt, though intercourse is the process through which we are born. Further we discussed on importance of consent, the decision to do sex, the right age and above all the responsibilities of the action taken.
A man entered the hall where we were screening the video on condoms, I became nervous – I didn’t know how to react, as I had to explain the video too at the end. Then I began pondering as to what is making me anxious- is it condom, the stranger or my own conditioning of not talking about condom and that just busted the bubble! It’s not something to be ashamed of, in fact we are co-creating a space where both boys and girls can sit together and talk about things that are happening to them in their growing years so that they are empowered enough to break the taboos and myths around sex, menstruation and their bodies and not falling into the trap of perpetrators who usually take advantage of their vulnerabilities.

I also realized that this is the age where social conditioning begins and if the right information reaches them, they can challenge as well as can take better decisions for their life there by building a society devoid of norms and unnecessary barriers.

The train of thoughts running through my mind was halted by a soft voice of 13 year old, “Didi girl loves boy and boy loves girl. Is it possible for a boy to love a boy?” I smiled and said, “Yes a boy can love a boy and a girl can love another girl” We have got another topic to discuss with these adolescents, long way to go :-)

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