Sexuality Education Workshop in Kannada – Mysore

Our day began as early as 5:30 am on a Sunday when Charu picked us- Jasmine, Kiran and Aruna up. Jasmine had earlier insisted that we bring Kiran along since the presence of a man changes the way young boys listen and respond to a session, especially facilitated by women. I have learnt this to be true myself.

We landed up in Mysore where Chaitra and Mangala guided us into the community where Buguri is situated. The amount of space there for children amazed an urban space person like me which allowed me to look more into how spaces and behaviours, especially of children are so intertwined. Buguri Mysore is a tiny space and decorated very beautifully with art works made by the children. The atmosphere felt extremely warm and inviting.

There were about 15 children in the age group of 9-16 years and their curious younger siblings peeping from the window, who were ready for the workshop to begin. They were clearly prepared earlier for the session, seeming very eager and some, having skipped their breakfast. The 4 of us had squeezed ourselves between the children along with Chaitra and Mangala. Jasmine had already begun asking their names and it amazed me how in 10 minutes she had managed to remember most of them! She was also asking them who their favourite actor and actress were, later corrected by the children to ‘heroin’. At this point is when I realised that the session had already begun. Seemingly effortless and quietly warming up the children. The idea seemed to get the children to speak. The following questions were about make-up, what makes an actor ‘average’, beauty parlours, bullying and love. The role of gender and the opinions of the boys and girls were addressed subtly and with very minimal judgement. Jasmine was also careful not to ‘correct’ what politically may seem as ‘wrong’ answers.
The girls seemed to share very similar ideologies on these topics bordering feminism. Their responses and standpoints being very mature for their age. While the boys, had very mixed responses from- girls as bullies cannot be given a second chance, boys can be; boys should say no to dowry; boys don’t wear make-up because they aren’t girls. And interestingly, there were moments of exchange between the boys who answered differently trying to get one to see the other’s point of view. And this happened very conversationally.

Audio Podcasts as a tool

 

These discussions were combined with the playing of 2 podcasts made by Hidden Pockets followed by a discussion of the same. One podcast was on bullying in a school discussed between two friends that was later escalated to the faculty who handled it in the school assembly without outing the bully. The discussion followed with the children stating how important it is to address an issue in a more general sense in a school space rather than picking out the child at fault resulting in their embarrassment.

The second podcast was on growing up through an introduction to menstruation explained by a mother to her daughter with the growth of a tree as a metaphor. It also addressed changes in the body of teenagers and reassuring that changes are normal. The children reacted by discussing how some of them and their older siblings now have pimples.

This on one hand, with the verbally strong, there were some children who were very shy. Jasmine opened out to them an option of writing down their thoughts and queries without a need to mention their names. This was more than welcome in the group.

This time they took to write also meant that some would sneak out for a quick snack!
Soon after, Chaitra began to read the questions and I was wondering what this session had spiraled out into. The answers would definitely mean another session! The children were eager to know more on a range of subjects- child marriage, menstruation, friendships and medical help. Jasmine patiently responded to them all also keeping in mind to be sensitive while addressing the group as some content may not be suitable for the 9-10 year olds in the group, to be spoken explicitly.

We ended the workshop very warmly with Chaitra and Mangala handing us crepe paper flowers made by the children with their name tags on. As like one child said “Preeti manassinda barbeku” (“Love should come from the heart”), we left with hungry tummies and love in our hearts.

About Buguri:
Buguri (‘Spinning top’ in Kannada) is a community library for the children of the waste collectors currently in 4 locations in Karnataka- Banashankari and Hebbal in Bangalore, Mysore and Tumkur. Buguri is a Hasiru Dala (‘Green Force’ in Kannada) initiative, an organisation based out of Bangalore that works for the welfare of the informal waste collectors in Karnataka.
Buguri runs with a primary aim to work with the children in the age group of 6 to 16 years, in the waster collector’s community through books. The idea was to introduce a no-fee and a fun library space as a means to open them up to the magic of books and explore the empowerment it gives to young and fresh minds.

 

Author : Aruna

Image Courtesy : Kiran Sopanam.

Whose baby? Women, Men and Contraception

I got this amazing chance to attend “A workshop on Contraceptives” conducted by the CT Innovation lab. Does it sound exciting? Yes it does. For a young woman who has never heard about anything other than condoms, a workshop on contraceptives would be fascinating. And the best part comes when after learning about the contraceptives, one needs to design it for the users. Here user being you and me.

For those who are not familiar with the term “Contraceptives”. They are methods or devices used to prevent pregnancy. It is also called Birth control techniques. How do they work? The basic principle is to prevent the sperm from getting to and fertilizing the egg. The contraceptives act like a barrier between the sperm and the egg.

There are different kinds of Contraceptives. Condom being the most popular one. Some of them bring hormonal changes and few of them dont. So it is very important to understand what kind of a contraceptive one should use, depending on one’s preferences and likings. However, the biggest challenge here is that not all are aware about contraceptive methods. In a country like ours (India), only married women get to know about contraceptives that to when they are planning for a child. Many a times even married women are not aware about the different methods and the choices available. So the awareness about contraceptives is close to zero.

 

Again for those who have no clue about methods of Contraception, let me give a brief on it. We can divide them in two categories, Hormonal and Non – Hormonal methods. Under Hormonal methods we have the Birth Control Pills, Vaginal Rings, Birth Control Patches, Implants, Injections and under Non – Hormonal methods mainly we have condom (male/female), cervical cap, diaphragm, copper IUD. Imagine there are so many options and we are hardly aware about them. For more information related
to how these methods function and the pros and cons of it, do stay tune for our podcast on contraception.

It was an amazing experience to work with so many experts. Researchers, innovators, biomedical engineers, professors of biological engineering, illustrators, podcaster. The main aim behind this workshop was to create a contraceptive product for women. A contraceptive that was easy to use, simple to understand and also non hormonal in long run. The ideation process was extremely challenging as we were trying to come up with a product which is layered with taboos. The aim was to cover all the women who are sexually active.

CT Innovation lab had an interesting research to share. They had spoken to many women and it clearly showed how these women were highly fed up with the methods. From condoms to injectables all had their own flaws. Some of the male partners refused wearing condoms, the women who got IUDs inserted developed infection and many were unaware about injectables. Many spoke about how it is the mother in law who decides on the method. There were women who got sterilized at the age of 25-27.

Now the question came what are these women looking for? And the response was very interesting. Many of them wanted something which can be worn on the body, such as a toe ring, a duppata, a nail paint, a bangle. Something which is easier to wear and looks very familiar and normal. Something which the mother in law cannot find out and the women can use it as and when she needs it. Many said anything which doesn’t bring hormonal changes or has side effects, few said they want all the tests to be done on male partners now as they were fed of trying new methods.

 

So we have a huge challenge now! First to make women aware about different kinds of contraceptives, how they work, the pros and cons. To Make them aware that one has bunch of options from which she can select depending on her preferences. Second to keep working on how can we come up with a better contraceptive method, which is affordable, easy to use, less of side effects and suits one’s body. And last how to make the women aware that it should be her choice what method to select and not the mother in laws. She needs to take control over contraceptive methods.

 

So finally, I came out as an experience designer as part of this workshop. I saw, I touched and I conquered some of my own myths and fears. There is so much to learn more, but really excited about sharing my experiences with you all.

Podcast: Photo Essay Workshop with young girls living with HIV

What is the best way of engaging with your participants? Do you want some innovative ideas?  Listen to some insights from the first photo essay workshop conducted by Team Hidden Pockets with girls living with HIV.  This brief podcast will help you delve into the lives of young girls living with HIV; and understand how something as simple as clicking pictures can create a sense of accomplishment and ownership for them.  Knowing how to best engage with your participants is an art. Learn just that through this captivating podcast.

 

Men Talk Consent workshop by Prajyna for young men in Chennai colleges

India is struggling to grasp the concept of consent. It may need more than just a little nudge to make people understand what consent means. Acknowledging the importance of consent to reduce and eventually prevent gender violence especially in relationships, Prajyna, a non-profit organisation working around gender related issues, is organizing its Men Talk Consent two-day workshop on April 29 and 30, 2017. The workshop will be addressing young men studying in colleges across Chennai. Dr. Sharada Srinivasan, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Gender, Justice and Development, University of Guelph will be the facilitator of the workshop.

Consent is a conscious and unforced decision made by a woman to an offer to enter into a relationship or for sex with another human being, mostly men. It includes her decision to say Yes or No to invitations.

“Even if women doesn’t express a clear No or if they seem unsure or even confused in their exercise of consent, it still tantamount to a No and not a Yes from her”, explains Sudaroli Ramasamy, Programme Officer, Prajyna.

She elucidated on this point since a majority of Indian men take a woman’s hesitance or confusion or a lack of clear No as a Yes.

Apart from engaging the male students in a conversation on consent, this free workshop will also train the students to be facilitators of similar workshops among their peer group. The students attending this workshop will commit to conducting 5 such sessions among their peer group with one session having a minimum of 10 men.

Dr. Sharada Srinivasan, who has been working in the area of gender for the last 25 years underlines the importance of conducting such a workshop:

“The discourse around gender focuses a lot on women but I don’t think we engage with men enough; and more importantly, I also think, we don’t know how to engage with men. So I think it is about time (to have workshops and similar spaces wherein) men have healthy conversations around ending violence against women, gender discrimination and other gender related issues.”

But why a ‘Men only’ workshop

Previously, Prajyna had done a series of workshops called Conversation about Consent involving college students: both men and women.

  • These workshops emphasized the need to understand that lack of clarity is lack of consent.
  • Videos on consent were shown to the participants as part of these workshops.
  • Prajyna intends to take the above initiative of conducting workshops to the next level by training male student volunteers as facilitators of similar workshops among their peer group.
  • These workshops had mixed gender groups and it was noticed that men feel more comfortable when men talk about the Right to Consent of a woman thereby highlighting the need for gender- specific workshops; especially, Men- addressing- Men workshops.

Explaining the reason for training male facilitators to address men, Srinivasan says that there are certain things that men may not be comfortable talking to a woman about. The intent of enabling male facilitators is to create safe comfortable spaces for men to engage with.

“If you want a group of women to talk about domestic violence and all of it, and  if you put a bunch of men there, there are certain things that the women are not going to talk about. It is about just creating that respectful comfortable space where they can have this conversation among themselves. We have had mixed group conversations and those conversations will only go so far.”

Srinivasan adds that it would be hard for women to think that they can do these sessions with men around.

“There are some no-go zones and I think it is best that men have these conversations among themselves. There is a certain idea associated with it in their minds. It is not the case with all. But if men talk about it, it will be that their own gender is talking about it and they will hear what the facilitator says. It is comfort zone for them to freely discuss things without any blocks.”

But what have been the problems with women addressing men about the issue of consent? Though Srinivasan emphasis on the lack of any problem or the need or lack for a safe space, she underlines the fact that we are not in a situation where men and women can sit down and talk about these issues yet. She points to the unintentional yet quick tendency to polarize: among men and women; as the reason for the need for gender-specific workshops male facilitators. In the case of men,it was largely found: this polarization often discourages many men from sharing their concerns and questions due to the stigma of being labeled as anti-women.

“This is exactly why it is good and important for men to think that gender related issues including gender violence is not solely a women’s problem and that men have a lot to address among themselves and these conversations need to happen a lot more.”

Hence Prajyna’s initiative in organizing ‘Men Talk Consent’ two-day workshop on April 29 and 30, 2017 between 10AM to 4PM.

Editor’s note: Any male college student can enrol for the workshop. Details regarding registration can be found in the poster above. 

5 things to keep in mind when counselling juveniles

Butterflies and Tulir – Center for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse organized a workshop on Can We Teach These Kids to Dance: Developmental Treatment Model for Addressing Sexual Behaviour Problems in Youth’ in New Delhi. It was facilitated by Prof. Kevin Creeden, Director of Assessment and Research at the Whitney Academy in East Freetown, MA. USA.  

Dealing with juveniles is a complex terrain to tread on, especially if you are involved in counselling them. A lot of handholding is required to bring them back to the mainstream, for them to lead a ‘normal’ life.

So here are a few points from the workshop that needs to be kept in mind.

1.Once a criminal, does not mean always a criminal.

It’s always circumstances that make one. We always think of criminals in a certain way and when it is a juvenile, our usual response is the world is moving from bad to worse. What future do we have in store for us? But what we forget to think about is why did a kid do that? We need to talk about the ‘why’ to the juvenile involved. And create favourable circumstances for the kid to be able to rehabilitate.

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2.Talk to them in a language they understand, make sure they get what you are saying.

Language is the most important tool to communicate without which understanding each other would be a problem. And even when we are speaking the same language, there are times that things do not get across in the way we think we are talking. For ex: Prof Kevin once had a very violent kid under him who used to beat his roommate up. During repeated sessions, Kevin had to ask him to stop hitting his roommate because it’s not a good thing to hit people and be so violent. The kid eventually did stop hitting his roommate but just after the session he went out and beat a staff member from the Centre. In the next session when Kevin asked him why did he do so, the kid’s response was, “We never had this discussion Kevin! All we discussed was that I should not hit my roommate!”

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3.Inculcate other methods like arts, sports, athletics and don’t just simply talk.

Talking makes things boring. It’s the lecture mode that needs to be made more fun. Arts, colours, crayons, music and athletics can be used to engage better with kids. It does not seem strenuous, it becomes playtime, you get to build trust and the class dynamics changes. The language barrier gets done away with and things become easier to interpret. Also because the kids do not wish to talk about things that have happened to them. Through art, sports and music, they get to give vent to their views.

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4. Reward and Punishment

Set a ground rule. For example, if you do good, you will get a chocolate. But if you do not behave, you will have to face the consequences. Being good to kids doesn’t mean you do not discipline them. Without knowing that there are consequences to a certain act, to being violent, they might keep committing acts of violence. Informing them that there are certain things that are acceptable in the society and there are certain things which are not makes them understand their situation better. Rewarding for good motivates them at the same time.

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5.Pay attention to their need.

A child stole something from a shop? What was it? Food. What made him steal? Hunger!

So what does the child need? Food

Do not concentrate on their behaviour alone but look for what they need. Do they need adult’s attention, a home where they can live, a safe environment where they can sleep in peace. A need based analysis of the situation helps in dealing better.

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Professor Creeden and his centre takes measures to ensure that the kid does well after he is out. They keep track of the kids and their present lives. There are cases where he has been in touch with them for more than 26 years now. It involves a lot of care and concern. It just made all of us wonder if India’s Juvenile Justice system even has an infrastructure in place to do this.

It was a good start to an important conversation nonetheless!

Camera and Girls, Revert the gaze for a person living with HIV.

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P1050088P1050121Hidden Pockets Collective conducted a workshop with young positive girls using cameras. It was really exciting to talk to the photographers who covered the event, from the idea of “reverting the gaze” to muses becoming the photographer.

It was an interesting insight into the world of photography. Check out the podcast link below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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These images were taken by the young girls.