‘No disabled person is a “bechara”‘
Day 2 of our workshop at the Blind People’s Association in Ahmedabad had an attendance of 35 young visually impaired women. Incidentally, the Gujarat government had blocked all internet services that day due to the Revenue Talatis (Accountants) Recruitment Exam in the state.
The day was kickstarted with ice-breakers, after which Nidhi and the girls sang Bollywood songs such as ‘Munni Badnam Hui,’ which proceeded into a discussion about relationships and self esteem. The participants giggled when Nidhi asked them if they had boyfriends, and although they were only jokingly asked to come and conduct the training, two married women voluntarily came forward to do so. Several different opinions and view points were put forward by the group. Many believed that society would label the girls as ‘chalu’ (scheming, oversmart), while most agreed that conventional beauty standards based on height, skin tone and looks were not the best way to judge a person. The visually impaired say that no disabled person is a ‘bechara’ and Nidhi talks about equality for the disabled. We also talk about what happens when we are in love, accompanied by more giggles.
To bring up the topic of harassment, Nidhi gets the girls to sing yet more songs that contain sexual innuendo. A discussion on consent, both before and after marriage, followed. The group then put up a variety of skits that talked about visually impaired couples and relationships to conclude the first half of this session.
To kick off the session on understanding the body, the participants were taught about male and female genitalia, during which, once again, a flurry of giggles erupted. Next, Jasoda Rana our counsellor for the day, took over the session on legal aspects and rights of a woman. There was a lot of curiosity from both the married and the unmarried women on the concepts of rape, sexual harassment and abuse. Jasoda advises that the safest place for a rape victim before reporting a crime is the hospital. She informs the women about various laws pertaining to these matters, and gives them information on several helplines numbers they can call in case of an emergency.
This was to be followed by condom training, and the giggling participants wondered how it would be done – with radishes, carrots, brinjals, sticks and fingers! They were even more amused when they were handed bananas and condoms. Some tips about condoms followed, such as always check the expiry date, and safe disposal of use condoms. And with that, day 2 of the Gujarat workshops came to an end, with positive feedback from the participants!