With a mission to make adolescents in Delhi government schools more aware of sexual literacy, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has started conducting workshops on tabooed topics under sexual literacy including sexual abuse, hormonal changes and good touch-bad touch.
Government guidelines dictate that all schools need to have at least one session on sexual literacy. Under an initiative started by the NGO Parwarish, titled “Aao Baat Karein” (let’s talk), workshops started being conducted on October 12 and have reached out to 600 Delhi government schools students.
About Aao Baat Karein: A sexual literacy program
The initiative came together in 2018, and it provides a platform for parents and teachers to learn how to approach tabooed topics including sexual abuse, hormonal changes and good touch-bad touch. The purpose of the initiative is to work towards the welfare and safety of children.
Aao Baat Karein aims to bridge the gap between parents/teachers and children, in order to keep child abuse at bay. At the same time, the sexual literacy program empowers children by educating them. Information and guidelines are shared with children on the basis of their ages.
Dealing with hesitation from parents, teachers and children
Dealing with tabooed topics comes with a lot of challenges, the biggest one of which is the hesitation that the receiving party brings. From their eight years of experience, however, the program heads have learnt to tackle these efficiently.
Dipti Mirani, a member of Aao Baat Karein, shared that conducting workshops with parents is tricky as almost half of the 180 minutes devised for them is spent on establishing the importance of having conversations on sexual literacy with their children, she shared in a conversation with Soulveda. A lot goes into breaking the taboo in parents’ minds.
Ranjana Kumari, a member of the DCPCR, said that parents and teachers refrain from talking about sex education openly. She emphasised on the importance of discussing tabooed topics as it is important to equip growing children with the right knowledge.
In the 90 minute workshops held with children, the program begins with an ice-breaking session, post which students get more comfortable and open up with the workshop conductors.
When students recounted incidents of sexual harassment
In a Delhi government school, 100 class IX and XI students participated in a sexual literacy workshop conducted by the DCPCR along with the Parwarish NGO on Wednesday.
Of the 70 class IX students, more than half stated that it was the first time that they had ever had an interaction on sexual literacy. Many students also shared instances of abuse or harassment that they had faced in the past. One of the students shared that her younger sister was harassed by a few men in her street. She said that the program taught her how to firmly say ‘no’ and she will teach her siblings to do so as well. She understood the importance of taking care of oneself regardless of age.
Many boys shared that the program created awareness on menstruation amongst them. They said that Aao Baat Karein provided them with an opportunity to talk openly about topics which could have never happened with their parents. They also learnt that concepts of menstruation and reproductive systems are not shameful.
At the end of the workshop, a practice session of saying ‘no’ at the top of one’s voice was done to encourage children to feel and recognise the power of their voices.
When action needs to be taken
There are times when students reach out personally to the sexual literacy program heads about issues they have faced, and in those cases school counsellors are requested to take care of them.
In extreme cases, the DCPCR provides the care required to students.
Moving forward, the DCPCR is planning to select student leaders from classes VIII, IX and XI, who can continue taking these conversations to other students.