“When I was a teenager, talking about issues like menstruation and attraction was taboo. I realised I never had anyone to talk about issues relating to my sexuality and ended up being scolded when I talked about attraction to boys. Not only me, many adolescent and young people face such challenges – they do not find anyone in the family or school who can patiently explain and give an ear to their sexuality issues.”
When Ankita Rawat, who hails from a middle class family of doctors and engineers realized that her life’s purpose was to work for the creation of an environment where adolescents in cities and neglected semi urban areas could talk freely about issues concerning sexuality, she faced a lot of resistance which started from her own house. In our culture issues which pertain to people’s sexual health are still not treated in the right light, let alone speaking about them freely. Even under such social stigmas this young girl at the mere age of 23, took her first step to work towards youth sexual and reproductive health rights.
In India youth are scared to report abuse, there are many who either are ridden by misconception or do not have access to sexual and reproductive health services like use of contraceptives and HIV testing. Ankita put forward the concept that it is better that parents educate their teenage children about sexual matters, this would make the youth less vulnerable to wrong conceptions and hence they would not fall in the dearth of ignorance.
Her initiative ‘Roles, Camera and Action’ hosted by the NGO, Feminist Approach to Technology has touched an issue which needs great deal of mending. Empowering women of the Low resource back ground community and making them aware of their sexual rights has been the main motto of their initiative. This group has been working day and night visiting villages in the remotest districts to identify and provide solutions to youth who are suffering hardships due to non- awareness of their sexual rights. This non-profit house has been helping them make informed decisions and choices over their sexuality. Making them aware of their rights and at the same time giving them the strength to speak up and fight against abuse.
Leaving the comfort of the city life and living inunlit houses amongst the oppressed and violated girls and sometimes even boys, has made the leader of this NGO stronger and firmer in her initiative. Bringing awareness as to how they can stand up against the unscrupulous and fight for their rights. They have taken the help of technology to assist the noble idea by projecting short films on sexual rights. The initiative also involves use of digital story- telling to bring awareness among youth. The team did spread the thought that it is all right to ask questions concerning your own sexual health and accessing the correct channels to ensure the same. The team has hit the right cord by challenging the Health service provider’s attitude towards the youth sexuality and has proposed a number of camps to bring about a positive change in their attitude.
When the roots are deep,the task of lifting the shovel is most difficult and of prime significance. Ankita Rawat has successfully taken the first step in the direction of an issue which remained quietly dug in the hearts of many. The team’s efforts are evident in the way young people in many semi-urban areas have tried to come out of societal shackles and do not feel ashamed or fearful to put their views forward.
This change will bring about an environment of peace and collateral living, giving everyone equal control and decision making rights in context to his/her sexuality.