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Sexuality and Disability India

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5 young women sit together on the ground. They are all facing forward and laughing

Body models, bananas and Bollywood songs

On October 17th, our team headed for two full-day workshops at Atmadeepam Society, Nagpur. The participants included both men and women between 18-35 years of age. Most of them spoke Marathi as their first language. This post covers the first half of day one of the workshop.

To kickstart the day, we got the participants into concentric circles. They asked each other questions about favourite food, pastime, films, songs as they introduced themselves, while effortlessly switching languages from English to Hindi to Marathi. The first session of the day was on body basics, parts and sexuality.

Our trainers Dr. Neha Goyal and Dr. Asif Virani from Mumbai took the session on, ‘My Body and Me: a session to understand our bodies and its sexual and reproductive organs and processes’ separately for the boys and the girls. Both groups started off with body models of the respective reproductive organs, while conversing about bodily changes from birth to adulthood. There is a lot of blushing and giggling, but an equal amount of curiousness to learn! Dr Asif shares: ‘a non-disabled educated couple couldn’t conceive for an entire year because the man was inserting the penis in the wrong hole!’ Although it took a while for the participants to get comfortable, once they did, they learnt about changes during puberty in the opposite gender, and had a whole bunch of questions for the trainers to answer, on masturbation and sexual intercourse, that are answered scientifically and accurately without any biases. Most participants were surprised to hear facts like a woman’s ovaries can have about seven million eggs at the time of birth. Dr Neha also builds on the importance of menstrual hygiene regarding both products and infections etc.

We then shifted focus to safe sex and contraception. Dr Asif elaborated on the various contraceptive techniques — condoms, Copper T, pills for women, sterilization for men (which is more permanent. Condoms are the best to prevent infection and maintain hygiene. We also had a brief discussion on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections with both groups. While Dr Neha talks about other hygienic practices like hair removal, the trainers have some more questions to tackle on genetics and safe sex. Emphasis is placed on menstruation and monitoring the menstrual cycle as a safe sex practice.

The last part of the ‘Body and me’ session comprised of condom demonstration and training with the use of bananas among both male and female participants. Our resource persons discussed about structure, use and types of condoms. While most men were aware of condoms and its usage, women had many questions about its shape and use. They were eager to learn also about other forms of contraception such as Copper T device, pills, female condoms etc. Our trainers, however, kept reminding them that ‘Condom is the best option available.’ We end this pre-lunch session with a few final questions on sexual health and the process of conception, and then break for lunch.