Saturday, 28 October 2017

Conversations about 'Love, Sex and Consent' with the boys of Government School

“I think he should have asked before he kissed the girl, I think girl would ask him why he did that to her without her permission. This is not right! Asking is a must” said a participant.

As the puberty marches in the lives of adolescents, the questions around one’s gender, opposite sex, what is sex? , engaging in sex, curiosities increase many folds, unfortunately they don’t find space in home, school to ask about the same which further ignites these questions! So in order to cater to these curiosities, provide answers to the questions, we facilitated a session on “Sex education”.

The workshop began with the train energizer, unlike our past experiences, the participants were amazingly innovative with their steps, one of them actually did a flip to which the rest of them followed and it was spectacular to watch them doing it in such a spot free style and with utter confidence. 

After a brief introduction and agreements, the facilitator shared a story based on ‘love’ ending into a question “What would you do if you were the protagonist in the story” to which varied range of answers were given-

I would slap the boy, how can he do this to me?”

“He should have asked before kissing”

“I will reciprocate the boy and confess my feelings after all I love him”

“After the kiss, boy might take her for a coffee date”

“He shouldn’t have kissed her in the tuition class, he might have taken her to a better place like park or a closed space”

“He shouldn’t have kissed her, what if she tells her parents. They will beat him”

Interestingly among the varied answers, almost 8 participants out of 17 believed that the boy should have asked the girl before kissing stating that it’s not right for someone to do this without consent. I was not only surprised but I was happy hearing this, in our country where men find it so difficult to hear ‘No’, also in the recent court judgment, where a film maker was given a clean chit stating that the victim didn’t clearly say no, in such context the adolescents understanding the concept of consent brings hope! 

Following this, the participants were divided into the groups of 3 where they were asked to discuss and write the incidences or messages or statements which they have heard about “sex” in the four different spaces: Home, school, friends and Media

“I was watching a film, in which a boy and girl goes behind a bush and something was happening. I asked my father about it, he ignored the question and asked me to do some work”

“In our science class, teacher taught us about adolescence, where he mentioned this word”

“I saw an advertisement where a boy and girl were kissing each other”

“I saw an advertisement of condom, where both of them were doing sex”

“My friend after the science class told me that for doing sex and for giving birth, both boy and girl should agree”

“I saw a magazine in which a boy and girl were doing sex”

“I saw a boy and girl who were in love with each other, once they were kissing and doing sex behind the bush”

“I asked my father about sex so he replied that it’s none of my business, when I would grow up, I will come to know on my own”

“My teacher on talking about adolescence told us that for doing sex, penis and vagina is needed”

“In one of the movies, I saw an actor and actress kissing each other, I thought they are doing sex”   

“My friend had a girlfriend, he told me once that he had sex with his girlfriend and then he left her.”

“We went to Qutub Minar for picnic from our school, we saw a boy and girl very close to each other. A man crossed by, we overheard him saying that they are doing sex”

“My father was reading a newspaper once, where I saw this word sex written in one of the pages”

“Many a times, in the films I have seen hero heroine sleeping together, kissing and doing sex”

“My friends talk about sex a lot of time”

“I have seen this film Titanic, where hero saves heroine from committing suicide, then he paints her when she is not wearing anything. They both go in a place and they do sex”

Reading this response, I was wondering that how can people still argue about whether adolescence is the right age to talk about sex? Because I believe that this is most appropriate age since they are not only hearing or seeing things but they are also actively engaging in sex!

The next part of the session involved screening of “Papu and Papa sex chat” on pregnancy, condoms and menstruation- taking references from the film we explained what is sex, how are babies born, how to use condoms and why to use it? What is menstruation, its importance, what is sanitary pad and related taboos!

After each film and in the last Q and A session, the participants asked many questions regarding the session which are as follows- 
explaining "what is sex?"

“Why is a baby born in 9 months?”

“If a boy wears a condom and engages in sex and still the girl gets pregnant then what do they do?”  

“Can a girl get pregnant by having sex in the very first time?”

“During pregnancy, do girls have menstruation?”

“Why do girls start having periods during the age of 11-15?”
Explaining "menstruation"
Two of the participants also shared that they also thought condoms are balloons! It was an interesting session where boys started opening up, asking questions and sharing their thoughts on the topics of love and sex!

Saturday, 21 October 2017

कुछ बातें :-)

कुछ बातें, अनकही बातें, फिज़ूल की बातें, बेबाक निगाहें, कभी आंखे चुराती, कभी दिल को टीस देती बातें, तेरी याद दिलाती हैं, मन कहता है कि तुझे याद रखूं, दिमाग कहता है कि पुराने पन्ने की तरह तुझे अपनी ज़िंदगी की किताब से अलग कर दूं। तेरा आना सावन की तरह था, अब वो सावन कावंड़ियों के आने जाने से जाना जाता है। नाराज़ नहीं हूं पर गुस्सा आता है कभी कभी अपनी बेवकूफ़ी और नासमझी पर, अपनी हरकतों पर, शराब की तरह काम के नशे में डूबने पर, रिश्तों के टूटने पर , अंधेरे में गुम हो जाने पर, सूरज के अस्तित्व को नकारने पर, बेवकूफ थी कि अपने दिल को एक काफिर, दानव के हाथ में डाल दिया जिसने रेगिस्तान में पीठ पर वार कर दिया।

लिखने में डर लगता है, लगता है कि दिल के अंधेरे को आवाज़ मिल जाएगी, और अंधकार को रोशनी धोखा दे देगी। सांस ली, वॉक किया, हंसी मुस्कुराई पर मानो पूर्वी गुम हो गई है, बात करने में काफी मुश्किल होती है, घबराहट भी होती है, दोस्त नहीं बना पाती, आत्मविश्वास दल दल में धंस गया है। उफ्फ एकदम खजुराहो की याद आ गई, वहां एक बेहद सुंदर तालाब था, कमल खिल रहे थे, लगा उन्हें पकड़ लूं, जकड़ लूं फिर वो झरना यार मन कर रहा है कि काश मैं एक स्वच्छंद नदी होती शायद पानी का अस्तित्व मज़ेदार होता है, ठंडा शीतल पानी जो ज्वालामुखी के लावे से बने पत्थरों पर ऐसी चोट करता है जो एक निडर, विश्वजीत रास्ता बनाता है। मैं शायद वहीं रास्ता हूं, निडर, अकेला और शीतल- न कोई फिक्र, न कोई आकंशा बस चलते जाने का मन, समय के भाव में रम जाने का मन, हाय मेरा मन :-)

Survival of the fittest: how women struggle in railways and survive too!

I love train journeys ever since I was a child. Though initially I had no choice considering my father being in Army and we had to shift places all across the country depending on where he is posted. My early memories are of second class coach which was quite comfortable mostly with lot of luggage and ticket collector problems. However as I grew older, I simply enjoyed sitting in train going to far off places, watching over the windows, passing trees, river and yes meeting different people! But second class shifted to third AC and eventually 2nd AC because of comfort and sense of security.

I remember coming from Jhansi to Pune in 2nd class via train where we didn’t get reservation; the coach was full of maddening crowd, interestingly the people who had reservation couldn’t even reach towards their own seats. I was scared and on that I decided not to travel without reservation! And somewhere that’s the reason why I refrain from traveling in the second class coach. But while travelling from Khajuraho to Jhansi, my friend and I had no option but to travel with second class ticket. It was quite warm that day, we got our seats in the crowded coach. I took a sigh of relief which didn’t really last long. 

To my surprise, there were two trains which moves from Khajuraho to Jhansi (this is not the last destination), however at one random station, few coaches were added to the train in which I was traveling and what happened next was nothing less than a huge chaos. Oceans of people barged in the coach (this included people without reservations, with general ticket) and with every passing station the crowd just kept growing, making difficult for people to even stand on their two feet. The people with reservation tried doing everything to shoo them away that included abuses, physical pushing, insulting, requesting etc, however nothing worked. 

At the very same time, i saw a woman requesting the person lying on the top berth to give some space so that her 2 years old son could sit. He refused and refused but with her constant pleading he agreed! To his surprise, this lady climbed up with his son in her lap along with another woman, making that man to sit. The crowd went mad calling that woman by names, asking her to get down, and insulting her but she seemed persistent giving fitted reply!

I was rather happy seeing the woman not because she took someone’s place but how she actually gathered the courage to survive in the maddening crowd consisting of men. She travels daily, she has a son in her arms and definitely if she keeps standing, it is a surety that one or other she might get hurt, molested or her son would suffer in many possible way but defying the traditional structures she fought back and make a space for herself. I don’t think that is unfair, after all that’s what Darwin said!  

Saturday, 14 October 2017

'Puberty: My body is changing'

“How did you feel when you first came to know you are a boy?”
“What a question, anybody would feel good being a boy so even I felt great that I am a boy”, shares the participant.
Is it so inherent or obvious that being born as a boy is the best thing? It seemed so when this participant said it for all the boys with such exuberance that for that second, it did look convincing.
The session on “knowing your body” began with the “coin game” energizer followed by brief revision of last session and introduction as to what will happen in next 2 hours. The participants were divided into the groups of 5 where they were invited to discuss over 3 given questions and then share the group’s insight with the larger circle.

“I got admission in the school, I asked my father, with whom I will be studying then he told me that I would be studying along with our neighbor’s son because I am a boy”

“I came to know through my parents and books”

“When I was 5 years old, I was playing with girls, then my friends told me that I am a boy and I should play with boys”

“My grandmother had come from village, at that time we didn’t had phones so she didn’t know that I was born. So while I was taking bath, she said I am a boy”

“When my dad for the first time called me son, then when I went to school which had only boys, also when my dad bought me car then I came to know that I am a boy”

“When I came to know that I am a boy I was very happy because my parents always wanted a boy. Also if I am boy I can grow up and do big things for my country. Considering the discrimination that existed between, boys and girls, I am glad that I am a boy”

“When I was in3 or 4th class, my height increased, voice started becoming heavy that’s when I realized that I am a boy. Also in my family I have one sister. I have seen how mummy asks her to always do household chores and they have no problem with me playing throughout the day”

It was for the first time since our first intervention at My Perch that in the very first activity of Puberty, gender became so predominant, just the mention of the word “Boy” lead to series of gender difference the participants see in their homes, neighborhood and school.

In the next activity, the participants were divided into 3 groups where they were asked to draw the body map, answer 4 questions around growing up and then presenting their discussion and body map in the larger circle. There was so much enthusiasm in choosing one person from the group to drawing his body map, making perfect lines, using right colors, drawing body parts and naming them. While the participants were engrossed in drawing and discussing the questions among themselves, there was so much hesitance and complete ignorance towards mentioning the private part. After giving a hint, all the three group drew the private parts, while 1st group actually hide it with a notebook. But when the time of presentation came by, they were all confident in sharing the body map and the answers.

“The bad part about growing up is we end up thinking about all the wrong things, such as teasing girls, making girlfriends, visiting websites that we are told not to see, using phones, going to friends with drug habits etc”

“When I was young I used to be very naughty nobody used to say anything but now if I do anything naughty I am thrashed by my family”

“If we gain weight or have grown more in height, all the people call us by names like lambhoo, motu etc”

“When we are growing, we have hairs all over the body, on chest, on armpits, on arms, legs and even around private parts which is bad, there is itching, sweat and irritation”

Another interesting part of the body maps was that out of 3, 2 of the groups have actually drawn 6 packs abs hinting the growing influence of body image. When I asked who has the 6 pack abs in the class, no one said yes but many hands rose when I asked who all wants to have them! 

This session turned out to be interesting and unique in many ways- not only we talked about body changes that happen in girls and boys bodies, their private parts but also paved the way for our upcoming session on Gender, peer pressure and body image.