ARROW organized a 7-day internship programme in New Delhi, India for youth-led organizations in South Asia. The internship was hosted by Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues (TARSHI), an NGO based in India. Participants included our partners from LOOM Nepal, YUWA, the YP Foundation, Pravah, and Durbin Foundation. This internship programme aims to strengthen capacities of young people in South Asia on issues around sexuality, rights, disabilities, sex work issues, sexual minorities and comprehensive sexuality education (CSE).
Following is a diary of the internship programme as it unfolded.
On the first day, participants started out with role-playing on core values – respect, choice, diversity, equality and justice – that underlie our work on sexuality and rights. During this, participants were taken through a process from examining patriarchal gender stereotypes and discussing understanding around sexuality and gender towards a complex and evolving definition of sexuality.
The participants got to discuss the concept of human rights towards ensuring a person’s equality, dignity and respect through drawing a human rights tree. This naturally flowed into developing an understanding on the difference between sexual and reproductive rights and between gender identities and sexual orientation. There was also a lot of discussion on varieties of sexual expression and what we mean by ‘good sex’/’bad sex’. This tied in well with the external resource person’s presentation on discrimination faced by young people who do not conform to gender norms within schools. Surabhi Shukla from CHLET (Centre for Health, Law, Ethics and Technology), read out an evocative piece on the plight of queer students in schools who face not only discrimination from their peers but also from the institutions they attend. The films Out of the Closet and Sheila ki Jawani from Bombay Talkies were screened for discussions.
On the third day, participants learnt about human anatomy, abortion, contraception, HIV and AIDS and more through an interesting methodology of a quiz. This methodology worked well as it gave participants a sense of competition and fun while learning a lot of interesting and important facts about physiology, myths and more. This was followed by a polarising case study where participants had to make a stand and build arguments on choice and consent. Also, the facilitators steered discussions on sexual abuse, harassment and power dynamics in child sexual abuse. There were discussions on instances of sexual violence, including rape and sexual assault, and its relationship to power. This was followed by a presentation by an external resource person who gave an introduction to child sexual abuse and clarifying myths and misconceptions related to it. Nabonita Banerjee from RAHI Foundation led the participants through discussions on child sexual abuse, its incidence, effects and power dynamics.
The first half of the day was devoted to discussions on technologies with regard to work on SRHR and how it can be strategically used to aid advocacy. While Anubha Singh from CREA spoke about their experiences on the CREA Infoline service, Gurkirrat from Youth ki Aawaaz shared their work on online and offline campaigns. There were also broader discussions on the use of technologies and ethics for advocacy on SRHR especially with regard to one of their on-going programmes. This was an interesting discussion as some of the youth partners have been involved with technologies as part of their programmes and took a keen interest in these sessions.
In the second half, there were also dialogues on sex work, difference between ‘prostitution’, trafficking and sex work and debates on the (de)merits of legalisation, decriminalisation and the human rights approach on sex work. Films such as Benaqaab and Zinda laash were screened to steer discussions and analysing how morality-based policies around prostitution and sex work adversely affect the rights of people in prostitution and sex work.