‘It is important to talk to our students about their bodies’
We held a two-day workshop with 29 teachers in Guwahati, at our partner Shishu Sarothi’s centre. Participants told us their expectations for the workshop: to learn to communicate with children better, understand sexuality, understand the extent of violence among disabled children, and learn more about disability.
Through an interactive exercise, Nidhi Goyal explained the different models of disability – social, charity and medical – and then asked participants to think through how they define normal (and, in turn, how they define disability). They also shared the problems that the children with disabilities who they work with face.
This laid the foundation for our conversations that followed, on gender, power and disability, and how the three interact. Participants did a power walk exercise, an activity on gender roles and labour, and had a passionate discussion on how power and decision making capacity is distributed in society, and then on to how these dynamics play out in the lives of the children with disabilities who our participants work with.
Then, divided into male and female groups, participants did a body mapping exercise, where participants mapped points of pleasure and pain along with parts of the body. One of the participants said, ‘We don’t talk about this in public; we are assumed to be bad people if we talk about our bodies but it is important to talk to our students.’
Finally, we moved forward by dealing directly with child sexual abuse. How do we negotiate consent for children? How do we ensure that children with disabilities understand that their no has strength? Can we treat children with disabilities as individuals and discuss matters of sexuality and marriage? These are some of the complexities we delved into. For the last session of the day, we were joined by a lawyer for a conversation on violence, the law and children.