Saturday, 11 August 2018

Relevance of “sex and consent conversations” with adolescents

The two groups of adolescents that Sahas is currently engaging with are very different from each other in terms of how they behave, their responses to the issues being discussed, the way they participate and engage, and their group dynamics. Hence we were really inquisitive to see what all conversations would come out while conducting third workshop with them on “Love, sex and consent”

After an amazing and super energetic game followed by discussion on agreements, the story of Paro was shared. The story is very simple and it quickly brings out the innate mindset on the validity of consent. So, the boys were asked ‘What would you do if you were in place of Paro?”

The first reaction was “I would slap Ram hard on his face and run-away”
“I won’t do anything”
“I would maintain safer distance from Ram”
“I would become Ram’s friend”
“I would feel sick about being kissed, this is not right”
“I would confess my love for him”

What surprised me was that one of the boy actually said that it’s not right because Ram never asked her! And then many boys agreed to it. This situation is so different from the first group of adolescents – here they actually came up with ‘consent’ without us probing or initiating a dialogue with them. This was accompanied by an engaging conversation as to why saying yes or no is so important, thereby challenging the mindsets that ‘a girl’s No is actually a Yes’

In the second activity the participants were divided into groups of 3 wherein they were invited to share ‘whether they have heard about the word sex ever in family, school, media and friends’ The important aspect here was they didn’t have to share in larger group so they felt free enough to write which is clearly reflected in their sharing: one of the participants actually shared the entire sex scene that he saw in the film, most of them related sex with the condom advertisement or the porn videos!

“I had heard about sex in my science class, also read in the book”
“I saw my grandfather’s penis”
“I heard my friends talking about sex, one of them showed video where 2 people were having sex”
“I have seen my friend’s ass”
“I have heard this word lot of times in classroom, from my friends and also saw in television”
“I have seen in films many times, there were students in my class who were talking about condoms. Also one of my friends told me that sex is a good thing which everyone does and he explained me how sex happens”

“My friend suggested me to download XXX in my phone but till now I haven’t done that”
“I had seen a sir and madam doing sex in the school, also in one of the film I heard hero say that heroine is very sexy”
“I searched on Google and I saw how sex happens”
“I have seen condom advertisement where hero and heroine eat paan and do sex using condom”
“I heard my friends talking about which brand of condom is better”
“I was told by my friend that he had sex with his girlfriend”
“One of my friends told me that his girlfriend has agreed to have sex with him without condoms”
“My friend watches sex on his phone”

“I have heard about sex from my students in the school, also from my friends and also on TV”
“My friend told me that this will be a big problem when we grow up, also he showed me XXX videos”
“I have heard the word sex in crime petrol”
“It’s a frequently used word when people abuse each other”
“I have seen Sunny Leone’s advertisement on condom, also seen Ragini MMS 2, also heard teacher abuse using these words”
“My friend says that doing sex gives pleasure”

And then people argue over the right age of having conversation on sex! And it’s equally appalling that the government is so hell bent against sexuality education, clearly we need to have these conversations because they have already started experimenting and they know a lot of half-baked knowledge – sex is not about abuses, rape, erotic porn videos, mms it is much more than this. It’s very scary and intriguing to read their sharing on the word “sex”

After this, we screened two videos on ‘how babies are born’ and ‘condoms’ so as to build their knowledge as to what sex actually means, how and when do people engage in sex, how a child is conceived and what can you do apart from having intercourse to express love. We also invited questions over this-

“So, can a girl get pregnant when she is young?”
“Can 11 years old have sex, what will happen if 11 years old have sex”
“Do girls also wear condom?”

We took this opportunity to build a conversation on “menstruation and associated taboos”- it was interesting to see that boys had a bit of understanding on periods and sanitary pad. Initially no one talked about taboos, but as one of the boy said- ‘you should not go to temple while having periods’ the whole flood gates busted and lot of do’s and don’ts came up- which were discussed in details so that it is understood that ‘periods is a biological process and has got nothing to do with being pure and impure’  

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