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Sexuality and Disability India

  /  Workshops   /  My Body   /  ‘We want to know why periods happen’
A group of girls sit on the floor together. One older woman sits in the centre and speaks

‘We want to know why periods happen’

This is the fifth in a series of #sexdis workshops in Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh). It was held on April 9th at Vivekananda Center, RamaKrishna Ashram Mission. We begin by singing songs about various body parts – all lyrics from Hindi film songs, and it is an exercise on understanding the body that the girls really enjoy.

Understanding the body is probably the toughest part of #sexdis workshops – here too it took us almost a day to get the girls comfortable with this idea and have open conversations about it. The topic of discussion for this afternoon is periods, and the girls collectively “hawww” when asked to explain what periods are. “It is a shraap (curse), museebat (problem) and takleef (pain)” they say. We talk about why only girls get periods and boys don’t. We explain the idea of a uterus, the menstrual cycle and the female reproductive system with the help of models of the uterus, fallopian tubes and ova.

The girls got very comfortable with their trainer Kanchan, RamaKrishna Mission, and asked every possible question about menstruation, discussed their problems and got rid of period myths. They were told some important facts include knowing about menarche, the amniotic sac in childbirth and observing menstrual hygiene. So far, the girls have learned about body parts, growth, periods, sex differences, sex organs and conception, and we move on to the male reproductive system. Once again, models for touch are used to talk about the different male sex organs.

The trainer then asks who in the group has a boyfriend. One participant says she doesn’t but wants one, and adds that a boyfriend is temporary, but a husband is permanent. Nidhi Goyal says brings up the topic of abuse. “Marriage is not only about sex. It also means co-inhabiting a house and a companion.” And although both good and abusive relationships are realities, it doesn’t mean that all men are abusive. Yet, we need to understand that whether the man is private (boyfriend) or legal (husband), he cannot abuse you and force you to do anything. The session ends with advice on safe sex and contraception, and some myth busting about having intercourse for the first time.

Read more in this Twitter thread. Interestingly, this post, originally on Storify, was followed by various people and companies around the globe, including Menstrupedia, a guide to explain menstruation in a friendly, easy-to-understand way, who were thrilled to see menstruation talks and disability coming together.