“Know your identity or others will define it for you”
After engaging intensively with adolescents from three slum communities in Delhi-NCR, we got an opportunity to implement ‘Gender, Sexuality and Reproductive Health curriculum’ with adolescent boys from Government school in Dwarka sector-3. This is one of the most crucial steps towards our mission, because we see lack of gender and sex education in school as a major gap in our education system. Also, whenever there is a discussion over gender or sex education, it implies that it is about or directed towards women! Even with respect to child sexual abuse, one of the major myths states that only girls are victims of child sexual abuse, however government survey in the year 2007 clearly mentions that more than 50 % adolescent boys were abused sexually.
The first session was based on “Who am I?” this is one of those questions which I still struggle with and I feel this question becomes more crucial during adolescence! We began with “Ungli dance” energizer, the participants not only enjoyed it but one of them even volunteered to play it again with the group.
This was followed by building an understanding over agreements so that we can actually build a circle of trust and confidence. In the second activity, the participants were invited to write answers to the questions based on their identity- like their favorite teacher, friend, what are their dreams and aspirations. It was interesting to see them sit quietly, ponder, ask questions and fill them with so much curiosity.
We then asked them to make their identity map – contrary to my previous experience; this group came up with very different thoughts/words associated with their identity where they were able to express their likes and dislikes as well.
‘I don’t like girls wearing fashionable clothes’
‘I like cooking’
‘I don’t like terrorism’ to which everyone started laughing, the boy humbly responded, ‘ I don’t like when I see such news coming everyday in the television, people being killed, it’s not right”
‘I like Mathematics’
‘I want to be teacher’
The second part of the activity was to find out a partner who shares one or two similar aspects of identity map, I noticed that most of them paired up as soon as one shared that they are boy! The shared identity of being boy was very predominant, due to which other identities actually took a back seat.
Then, it was explained how the identities change as we move from one phase of our life to other, so it could be that one particular identity is very important for us when we are adolescent, it might become totally irrelevant during adult life!
Moving ahead, the story of Mahatma Gandhi when he was in his adolescence was shared with participants indicating the importance of values, curiosity to question, nose for learning.
It was overwhelming to see the positivity of the participants flowing through the circle and getting reflected in our processes. After engaging them with one’s personal identity, shared identity, changes in identity during life cycle- we invited them to share one good thing about them with the larger circle by playing the ball game- the game slowly picked up and then it became a total riot J
The last activity “advertise your friend” began with choosing a partner whom you have not interacted with and then share around the questions that was given by facilitators.
‘Mam, I don’t want to be with him”
“But why? This is an opportunity to know each other”
“He is a bully, he hits me and makes fun of me”
“Okay, then I will stand with you, you do this with him, he won’t hurt you”
Still reluctant, this participant worked with the same person and it worked wonderfully as he introduced his friend as “Meet my wonderful friend---”
I am thrilled, this is the first time Sahas is engaging with all boys groups, and it is turning out to be altogether a different experience J this session comes with a hope that we are heading towards the larger goal of envisioning a world free of gender based violence.