Since last 3-4 years Tathapi is involved in an important project on the topic of sexuality and disability and is having a constant dialogue with parents, teachers and care givers of children with special needs. Tathapi has worked with blind adolescents and developed a set of resources called ‘Gosht Sharirachi... Manachi...’ The set includes an Audio CD, a Braille book and a guidebook for parents and teachers.
Puberty is a sensitive stage which everyone experiences and it involves a large number of changes in a person, both physical and psychological. It is as essential for disabled children to be aware of this, as it is for anybody else. Based on this, we have started working on ‘Disability and Sexuality’ and the work is towards bringing about a positive outlook both among parents and caregivers. We developed a resource for the parents and teachers of the children with mental disability, called ‘Sharir Saksharta Sarvansathi’. The book was published in a state level workshop where many parents and teachers participated across the state, on 13th–14th February 2016. The workshop was organised to discuss the need of sexuality education for intellectually challenged children and also for the care givers.
The book ‘Sharir Saksharta Srvansathi’, was published by Dr. Anita Ghai, a prominent activist working in the field of disability and sexuality and an ardent advocate for the rights of women with disabilities. She is currently working as a professor in the Department of Psychology at Jesus and Mary College in New Delhi.
The two days program had a panel discussion on Disability and Sexuality. Bhal Korgaonkar, Kalika Mujumdar, Awate Sir, Medha Tengshe were the experts on the panel and Dr. Ujwal Nene, a renowned psychologist from KEM Hospital, Pune was chair of the session. The session was followed by an open discussion for the participants. The second day was started with a session on Body Literacy for participants. Information on structure and functions of internal organs of human body, biological difference between the body of a man and a woman and gender as a social construct were some of the topics discussed in this session.
A group activity was planned to discuss and share opinions and experiences of each and everyone. The groups were asked to come out with specific needs, challenges and solutions they think appropriate while dealing with sexuality needs of the children with disability. The groups discussed physical and psychological changes in girls and boys while growing up, hygiene and cleanliness, sexual violence and safety, sexual feelings and mediums of expressions, etc. The teachers, parents, facilitators participated fully in this activity, they discussed among the groups and after that they presented their views and methods of teaching these subjects. A need of some resource which is easy to understand and simple in communicating these topics to at least the children with marginal intellectual disability was expressed during the session.
Medha Tengshe from Sadhana Village, a residential institute for mentally challenged children and elders, shared some expectations from Tathapi Trust and appreciated the work of Tathapi in the field of disability and sexuality.
The Program closed with an open interview of Dr. Anita Ghai by Medha Tengshe and Dr. Ashutosh Bhupatkar.
Dr. Anita Ghai shared her journey of life, challenges she faced because of her physical disability, her struggle with the outside world as well as her inner spirit of fighting back. We have documented the interview and soon will make available online with her consent as it is a valuable resource for the people working in the same field and for all of them who might not be familiar with the struggles the ‘disable’ persons face.
More than 70 teachers, parents, workers from many organisations across the state participated in this State Level meeting.