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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. Through her description and excitement with which she told me about it, it was clear that she was very happy with the freedom of opinions and detailed discussion. Hearing her speak about her experience, I joined her at the next meeting of this group. It was here that I was introduced to a programme on Comprehensive Sexuality Education, Know Your Body Know Your Rights.
When I joined the group, we talked about all kinds of things, including the meaning of gender, patriarchy, violence. We all found ourselves learning and unlearning gender and body rights we hear about in daily life – things that we never actually ponder over 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 mind-set are intricately connected with each other and contribute to our everyday decisions, and experiences.
I realized that when someone comes out of the closet, what they face is not only defined by their gender but also their economic condition, their social status, the education of people around them.
I realized what most of us overlook in everyday life, patriarchy, body rights, and sexuality, are not merely words, but govern our lives.
Before I got 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 society. This ignorance is not only about others’ lives and experiences, but also our own. Our condition today is so saddening that we have normalized 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 passes from breaking these taboos.
I am now someone who gives other people comprehensive sexuality education (CSE). 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 how it doesn’t matter what a person wears, I realize 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.