On 18th May, the ‘You Can Foundation’ organized a panel discussion on “sexuality and reproductive health rights”. The panel discussion was live at google meet. The session that started at 3 PM, went on for an hour. The session had some distinguished panellists like Dr Surbhi Singh, Reema Ahmed, Buvana and Dr Avijit Chakravarti.
Dr Surbhi Singh is not only a practising gynaecologist, but she is also the founder and the president of Sacchi Saheli. Sacchi Saheli is an NGO that aims to fight the social taboos and talk about everything that the society hates to discuss. Reema Ahmad is the Co-founder of Candidly. She has also conducted various workshops on Child Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention. Buvana is the principal of Noida International Public School. She is also responsible for conducting various educational awareness programs. Dr Avijit Chakravarti is an educationist and development consultant. He has previously held senior editorial positions in organizations like The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Tehelka, The Pioneer & The Statesman.
The moderator for the panel discussion was Jyotsana Mohan. She is a prominent journalist and has written for several news organizations. The session started with the moderator addressing the latest issue of ‘Bois locker room’ group chat. She pointed out how it’s not the first time nor will it be the last. Dr Avijit then added saying how there is an information overload on the children and that the gender stereotypes and sexist ideas need to be reinforced. Mrs Buvana mentioned how earlier no one wanted to include sexual education in the curriculum and parents also don’t feel it’s necessary for the students to learn about reproductive rights.
A lot of pivotal questions were answered in the session. Answering the question on how can we explain a child about sexual rights, Reema Ahmad splendidly explained that we need to use a language of consent and boundary. It is really important that the parents address the issue rather than giving their children phones without telling them how to properly use it. It was also addressed in the session that we need to start with the parents. Comprehensive educational programs should be organized for both teachers and the parent. there are many people who are highly trained to conduct programs like this but sadly, no one makes use of it. On the question of how can we change, Dr Avijit very aptly said that change is not going to happen in a day because we as a society are used to a patriarchal way of thinking. The very first thing that needs to be done is for the parents to accept that they need to learn and then can they talk to their children.
On the issue of helping children in identifying sexual abuse, Dr Surbhi Singh said that we need to stop seeing the victim as accused. Parents should converse with them and take the child in confidence. Understanding the child is very important. And for all that, an orientation of parents is a must. Parents need to talk with their child about sexual health and make them aware that till the age of 18, the body goes through a lot of transitions, so sexual activities may be overwhelming for them. They also need to be aware of the legal aspect of it. If they engage in sexual activity with the other person before the age of 18, even if it is with consent, they will still be in the risk of getting charged with rape.
Children need to have comprehensive sexuality education. They need to understand how they shouldn’t let anyone take advantage of their emotion and how to recognize a toxic relationship or behaviour.
The session ended with the moderator thanking the panellists and all the attendees who had joined from various parts of the country.
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