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Sexuality and Disability India

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A group of young women sit on the floor smiling

‘I don’t want to burden him’

On the 1st and 2nd of August, 2017, we held a workshop on gender, sexuality and disability in Varanasi with 30 adolescent girls (aged 14-18) who live with locomotor disabilities.

The workshop was conducted in collaboration with the Mahila Swarojgar Samiti (MSS), an NGO based in Varanasi. It was conducted with the aim to make the participants aware of the impact of the intersections of sexuality, disability and the law on their daily lives.

The workshop started off with a conversation about the girls’ dreams. 19-year-old Sabina said she dreams of meeting Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan one day.

The session on #Gender saw the girls enact how girls and boys are conditioned differently as they grow older. ‘Boys sleep with their legs apart while girls sleep crouched and curled up,’ said one participant.

We then listened to an awesome podcast called Telephone pyaar by Agents of Ishq, and followed it up with conversations about secret phone chats and privacy in relationships.

One participant at the workshop said: ‘I’m not interested in getting married. He will have to carry me for the saat phere. And I don’t want to burden him.’

Workshop leader Nidhi Goyal then spoke about the movie Mann, and its impact on women with disabilities, particularly highlighting the fact that it has the idea of the woman with a disability as a “burden” ingrained in it.

We also had in-depth conversations unpacking the idea of ‘pity’ as it figures in the relationships of women with disabilities, in contrast to ideas of romance in relationships among non-disabled people. Through this workshop, the girls were able to form better ideas of how to deal with relationships and romance, and to take these things confidently in their stride.