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Sexuality and Disability India

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A hand places another hand on a tactile chart of the menstrual cycle

Sex is like putting a spoon in a jar

In the second of our sexuality workshop series in Mumbai, we visited the National Association for the Blind where we met a group of women from different age groups to talk about the body and violence. As an ice-breaker, many shared their aspirations with us, from visiting Goa to becoming a fashion designer for plus-size women, we had it all. The girls are involved in some craft activities all year round, and are currently working on a Rakhi project for the upcoming festival of Raksha bandhan.

To kick off the day, once again we have Dr Shrutika, who explains the female reproductive system and intercourse with some wonderful comparisons yet again. She talks about menopause by referring to estrogen as a ‘fixed deposit at a bank’, and describes the act of intercourse as ‘putting a spoon in a jar’, and refers to the hymen as a ‘foil on the mouth of the jar’. Dr Shrutika uses a tactile model she developed to explain menstruation to one girl in Hindi, while our leader Nidhi talks about female internal and external organs. One participant, Bhagirathi says she knows a lot already because she has read a book in braille, called ‘Umaltya Kalyanche Prashna” meaning ‘young buds and their questions”. 65-year old Hirabai, with an indomitable spirit, says that she doesn’t need to know about body parts at this age — at which Nidhi asks her to explain them to us!

The conversation is then steered in the direction of biology — with the girls asking questions about the X and Y chromosomes, whether or not boys have uteruses, and agreement on the fact that a woman cannot be blamed when she doesn’t give birth to a son. Nidhi opens the discussion to gender, power and social constructs, and Hirabai chips to say that she has got all her knowledge of sex-education from a movie titled ‘Gupt Gyaan’ which she watched at Bharat Mata Cinema, when she was not visually impaired. She adds that ‘Girls used to wear fake mangalsutras to watch the film.’ Unlike movie theatres, our workshops are accessible to all, married or single!

In the last tea break, Nidhi tells the girls some love stories of visually impaired women and sighted men, and the day wraps up on a happy note.