Continuing our Blogger Series as a part of our Health Over Stigma campaign unmarried women from all around India are sharing their stories/experiences related to the stigma we face in regards to our body, sexual health & desires. It is only through starting an open and safe dialogue can we end the stigma and normalize these conversations. Read more about our Week of Action here.
Once at a party when I was in school me and my friends were playing a drinking game ‘never have I ever’. One of the guys said ‘Never have I ever masturbated’ he sneered it at the girls. Every single dude sitting there chugged a shot and so did I because as a normal 17 year old I of course have and quite enjoyed masturbating. To my shock my other girlfriends just sat there and stared at each other. I felt betrayed & bemused. I could not fathom the fact that none of them had masturbated before or maybe that none of them would admit to doing so in public. To be honest it pissed me off because I felt like I was being ostracised and singled out as overly sexual – I gaffed “none of you have ever touched yourself before?”. I was met with a staunch & collective ‘nope”.
I think that experience was important because I knew that women have desires as everyone else. I never questioned if I was ‘normal’ or not. However that day taught me that my school friends wouldn’t judge me nonetheless they would not be open to expressing sexual desires the way I was. I had to find a community of women who were like me & through Health Over Stigma I finally have.
“…Somewhere in our minds we will be happy and satisfied to know that we contributed to a better India with our little efforts.” – Aditi Karande
“Haiyya helped me grow as a person…as a person who listens and understands the issue before jumping to a conclusion.” – Mihika Gulati
These are just a couple of examples of what our fellows have to say about their time undergoing the training provided by Haiyya. While some came with enthusiasm and others with a little bit of skepticism, all left with a feeling of having contributed, of having taken that step towards positive change, of building communities who act on their issues.
We’ve built a leadership training programme based on the curriculum of Harvard Kennedy School and Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. This training involves learning about public narrative, community organising and community action. The fellows get the opportunity to work on a live campaign, where they research the issues, learn from experts and organise their own community team.
Previous fellows have worked on campaigns like Public Safety and Right to Vote, where they worked closely with local neighbourhoods, engaged with the police department, coordinated with the electoral officers and worked towards imporving situations in their community. If you too want to get a leadership training, while working directly with communities on issues, apply for our 3rd fellowship programme. Hear from our fellows in the video below and apply on: http://www.haiyya.in/campaign/fellows. Apply early as there are limited seats and the deadline for application is 5th Novmeber 2013.