Secret ladies talk
We are back yet again on December 16, 2015 with our ‘secret ladies talk’ (according to the girls) at National Association for the Blind, Mahalaxmi. We start with our ever-popular ice-breaker on sharing dreams, and one lovely participant who wants to pursue singing sang a song in Telugu for us too! Our leader Nidhi directed the workshop to open up discussion on safety and harassment. She broke the myth that blind women are not harassed because they are blind. Participants shared that they hesitate to tell their parents and family about the harassment they face since they fear it will further restrict their mobility. Nidhi said restrictions at home happens with sighted women as well as blind men. Overprotectiveness is a trait that cuts across women everywhere.
Moving onto our favourite session on the body, Nidhi did a quick and fun body mapping exercise on naming body parts before we got into the nitty gritty of it. The girls shyed away from talking about the lips, breasts, hips and “private parts.” Soon, Dr Shrutika arrived, and the girls were eager to share their menstrual problems with her, and even requested for a gyneac check-up later! Dr Shrutika talked about hormonal imbalances and lifestyle changes due to PCOD, and also asserted the importance of menstrual hygiene, as always. In order to get a better understanding of the tactile models, we divided the participants into three linguistic groups as some spoke Marathi, some Telugu and some Hindi. The best part of this workshop was that participants took upon themselves to explain concepts to their friends and classmates. This peer-to-peer group work was very successful. We then further talked about contraception and the importance of wearing a condom during sexual intercourse. Although, there was initial hesitation and giggling during the condom training exercise, all the participants successfully put a condom on the banana with little or no help. Dr Shrutika stressed on the need and use of contraceptive pills as well, and why a male partner should always wear a condom. Pro tip from Nidhi: a visually impaired person can tell if a condom is expired by touching it and figuring out if it is sticky.
The final chunk of the day was spent in doing interactive and engaging role plays that explored the themes of parental pressure and marriage and even about possible abuse by a visually impaired man on a visually impaired girl. We ended today’s workshop with a short lecture on intimate relationships, independence and the self.