By Kritika Chawla:
While returning from class one day, my friend told me about a session she attended in our city where young people came together to talk about feminism, gender, sexuality and sexuality education in a way that we had never done before. The conversation was open, welcoming and invited everyone to articulate their own opinions.
Going by her descriptions and the excitement with which she told me about it, it was clear that she was very happy with the freedom of opinions and the detailed discussions. Hearing her speak about her experiences, I joined her at the next meeting of this group. It was here that I was introduced to a programme on comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) called “Know Your Body Know Your Rights“.
When I joined the group, we talked about all kinds of things – including the meanings of gender, patriarchy and violence. We all found ourselves learning and unlearning the gender and body rights which we hear about in daily life – things that we never actually think about how they affect us. I found a space where I could ask questions and say things exactly how I felt, without the fear of being judged.
Here’s what I realised: our gender, body, social status, sexuality, our families and mindsets are intricately connected with each other, and contribute to our everyday decisions and experiences.
I realised that when someone comes out of the closet, what they face is not only defined by their gender, but also by their economic condition, their social status and the education of people around them.
I realised that what most of us overlook in everyday life – patriarchy, body rights and sexuality – are not merely words. They also govern our lives.
Before I started talking about all of this, and before I had access to information on sexuality, I thought I knew enough about my rights, gender and body. I now realise how ignorant we can be, despite being privileged members of the society. This ignorance is not only about the lives and experiences of others, but also that of our own.
Our condition today is so saddening that we have normalised traumas that should be talked about and dealt with, urgently. Many taboos exist because people shy away from talking about what’s really important – and that in turn leads to more and more people suffering mentally and physically. The only path towards a mentally-healthy and growing society is by breaking these taboos.
I am now someone who teaches CSE to other people. And now, when I visit communities and talk to other young people about how it’s okay for their fathers to work in the kitchen and why it doesn’t matter what a person wears – I realise how important it is to take the first step, initiate conversations and take actions to bring change where we hope to see one!
The author is a TYPF Peer Educator and Youth Advocate. She is currently studying in Delhi University.
This post was originally published on www.theypfoundation.org.
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