Sunday, December 3, 2017

Discussion on Sexual and Reproductive Rights: Days 7 & 8

On the 1st and 2nd of December, Prajnya in collaboration with SIAAP (South India AIDS Action Programme) conducted three workshops over the span of 2 days: two at MMM Nursing College, and one at the Asian College of Journalism. The workshops were very different from each other; each was enlightening and educating in its own way, but structured differently to accommodate the type of audience in question. Both workshops were conducted by Dr. Shyamala of SIAAP.

At MMM, with the students of the first workshop, she started off with asking them to introduce themselves, and share with everyone how they felt when they woke up that morning. With the second group, she talked about how one would take steps to prvent dengue first, and then used the same metaphor to talk about STI's. She eased them into conversations about sex and sexual health by starting with an introduction to the history of AIDS and the first detection kit. This evolved into a discussion about sexual rights, and the usage of contraception. The girls of the college were a bit apprehensive at first but the discussion soon became an open one. The girls were then divided into groups and asked to brainstorm on ways to initiate safer sex, and came up with the following points:

1. Screening before engagement and marriage.
2. ‎Improved femidoms
3. ‎Pre marital councilling
4. ‎Open conversation
5. Sex education in school
6. ‎Periodic community counselling
7. ‎Compulsory STI screening before marriage by the government
8. Parents' education
9. ‎Pre marital counselling
10. Distribution of female condoms

The second workshop, at the Asian College of Journalism, was starkly different. We ended up with 5 students, and it turned into more of a safe space, where one could share her concerns about sex, sexuality and sexual hygiene. After a good, long session of personal sharing of experiences, Dr. Shyamala left us with some information on the types of female contraception available, and how it was so less, so expensive, and not readily available. The students who attended felt a bit taken aback at hearing about the situation, but promised to take it forward as journalists, in the future. 

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