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Sexuality and Disability India

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A group of people sit on the ground in a circle

On raising independent daughters

This is sixth and last in the series of Storifies of #sexdis workshops in Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh). It was held on April 10th at Vivekananda Center, RamaKrishna Ashram Mission. This was largely a discussion with the parents of the visually impaired girls we have trained in the last two days. As they sat with our leader Nidhi Goyal and became more comfortable sharing their worries and doubts, Nidhi gave them some words of motivation and assurance in a bid to abate these fears.

Parents spoke intently about the worry of their girls being able to study, find employment and marry happily. What caused them further despair is their poverty, the social stigma in their villages against their daughters’ disability and lack of knowledge surrounding this.

Narrating her own example, Nidhi emphasized that their daughter’s disability cannot and will not stop her from becoming independent no matter how harsh society is on her.

“Like any other individual having to deal with society, she will also go through her own set of challenges but you (as the parent) shouldn’t let that stop her. You have to support her not make her feel weak and that would often mean that you too would have to be harsh to her. But once she grows up, she will realize the meaning of your harshness. Teaching your daughters to do everything that other girls their age do will take time but it isn’t impossible.” She also said that while it may take time for the girls to learn to do something, it is not impossible, and they should not give up just because of harassment or stigma. The participants say that even though relatives and others in the town or village feel strongly about their visually impaired daughters roaming around and doing things, they as parents realize that they should let the daughters become independent too.

Nidhi says, “She (your visually impaired daughter) needs acceptance, understanding and love from people. Even if the world doesn’t offer it, you (as parents) can.”

And that it was her mother’s repeated scolding and training her to keep things in place and stay in order that eventually let her go abroad and live independently. It is the responsibility of parents to empower their kids more than anyone else.

The workshop thus ended on a positive note, with both girls and their parents feeling much more confident about themselves and their daughters, and are more ready than ever to become independent adults.