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Sexuality Training to Visually impaired Women in Nepal

Published on: November 9, 2022

Prayatna Nepal is the self-help organization working for empowering the living condition women and girls with visually impairments. The organization is established by the composition of both women with and without visually impairments.

The first day of five days sexuality training started with warm welcoming of participants by Ms. Sarita Lamichhane, chairperson of Prayatna Nepal, who hosted the opening session. She highlighted about Prayatna Nepal as an organization the activities that are conducted under Prayatna Nepal till date. She mainly focused on the objective of five days Sexuality training that was going to be conducted. After this, she encouraged the participants and organizing team to give accessible introduction where individuals share their names, address, type of disability, dress they are wearing, their physical features (if they want to anything specific), their body part/organ/ features they like/dislike, and expectation from the 5-day sexuality training. As this introduction included a detailed information of individuals, it helped them to know one-another and speak more openly in the coming sessions. Then, Ms. Sarita encouraged them to nominate one participant among themselves as reporter (who would share overall learnings of the training), one timekeeper (who would take notice of the time during sessions and breaks) and one evaluator (who would evaluate overall sharing of the training).After this, the first day of training session was formally started by Ms. Sarita, where participants learnt important terminologies related to sexuality. She took a more participatory approach by asking the participants to share their own understanding on sex and gender. Her session was focused on learning the difference between gender and sex. Through discussions and presentation, she also made the participants understand about important topics like sexual identity, sexual orientation, attraction, puberty, social expectations and gender roles. She also engaged the participants in group activity to discuss their ideas among each other related to the earlier discussed topics. In the second half of the first day, Ms. Rukshana Kapali (LGBTIQ youth activist) took session on LGBTIQ and sexuality. She facilitated on the terms related to LGBTIQ. She also shared about the status of LGBTIQ in the Nepalese society. She explained various types of gender and their different ways of expressing their sexuality. She also encouraged the participants not to view any specific gender with a stereotypical lens and rather be more open about accepting the differences. She also related the types of gender in terms of types of disability. She explained that as there are different types and severity of disability and every individual with disabilities have different way of living their lives, the LGBTIQ community is also vast. She further adds that, every individual have different approaches and ways of expressing their likes/dislikes or overall sexuality.

On the second day, Ms. Sarita encouraged the nominated reporter from the first day to give brief presentation and recap of the previous day. After that, the evaluator added few points and Ms. Sarita re-elected new reporter, evaluator and timekeeper for the second day. After that, she welcomed Dr. Khem Karki (Member Secretary, Nepal Health Research Council) who took session on Comprehensive Sexuality Education and its component. He explained the concept of sexuality where he describes eight main concepts of comprehensive sexuality education. He highlighted concept one as relationships where he explained aspects of family life, friendship, love relationship and commitments. Similarly, he explained about values, culture and sexuality as concept two and all aspects related to gender such as its social construction, stereotypes, gender equality, gender-based violence under concept three. Furthermore, he described about violence, consent, privacy, bodily integrity and safe use of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) as concept four and skills for health and well-being under concept five where he explained about norms and peer influence on sexual behavior, decision-making, communication, refusal and negotiation skills, media literacy, finding help and support. Under concept six, he explained further about the human body and its development where he engaged discussions on anatomy, physiology, reproduction, puberty and body image. Similarly, he highlighted about sexuality and sexual behavior under concept seven and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) under concept eight where he describes about pregnancy, abortion, HIV/AIDS stigma, care and treatment, and ways to reduce STSs. The participants thoroughly enjoyed his session and asked many questions out of interest and curiosity. One of the important and new things the participants learnt was about TORCH profile, which can be done during pregnancy. It stands for Toxoplasmosis (T) Other, including syphilis (O) Rubella (R) Cytomegalovirus (C) Herpes simplex virus (H), which is a test used to diagnose infections that could harm unborn baby during pregnancy. Out of which the Cytomegalovirus is a type of herpes virus and is most common congenital infection among babies which is highly transmitted from mothers. This virus can cause long-term problems in babies, including problems with vision, hearing and mental development. As all the participants were visually impaired women, they were intrigued to know about this test as it may help them find out possible vision related disabilities in their unborn babies so that they can take decisions accordingly or be mentally prepared. The next session was on Menstruation Hygiene Management, which was facilitated by Ms. Radha Poudel (Founder of Global South Coalition for Dignified Menstruation). Initially, Ms. Poudel took general data from the participants. She asked them to give their short introduction along with their ages when they first started menstruating. After collecting the data, she proceeded with her session in a more semi-formal way by engaging the participants in discussion throughout the time. She described on the cycle of menstruation and how it occurs monthly. The participants raised questions based on their own experiences such as: the uneasiness and difficult phase before and during menstruation. Linking her own experiences and the questions asked, Ms. Poudel explained about Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS). She highlighted that getting menstruation is not a curse but rather a gift that allows women to give birth. She encouraged everyone to dignify menstruation and reject all types of taboos and stereotypes associated with it. She mentioned that the blood that comes from our uterus and flows out through vaginal opening is pure blood and not dirty blood which is a common misconception among everyone. She also further explained about ways to properly manage and maintain hygiene during menstruation. She later also informed the participants about different types of sanitary products. She brought few sanitary items and asked Ms. Ritu (programme coordinator of Prayatna Nepal) to help her in giving practical demonstration of their uses through tactile method. Ms. Ritu and Ms. Poudel together answered their curiosity regarding different types of sanitary products and its uses such as general market sanitary pads, homemade/reusable pads, tampons and menstrual cups. In this way, the second day’s session ended.

The third day started with the welcoming of participants by Sarita Lamichhane, after which, she invited the reporter to share about the sessions and activities of the second day. In the same way, evaluator also evaluated the second day. Then, the reporter, evaluator and timekeeper of third day was selected. After this, session on concept and types of disability was formally started by Mr. Kiran Shilpakar (representative from NFDN). He explained that disability is a situation and not a disease. He also highlighted that a person is only disabled when his/ her situation is subjected to a barrier preventing him/her from doing or engaging in any activity. He then also explained different types of disability based on functional limitations. Then, he also described about the classification of disability based on severity. Adding on to the description, he explained about four different types of disability card as per the government of Nepal. After his session, Ms. Sarita Lamichhane took the session further on Disability and Sexuality. Adding on to Mr. Kiran’s presentation, she explained about the modality of disability. She explained that disability is an evolving concept and there are basically four changes in its understanding: i. First, persons with disabilities were seen with pity and fear, and that they should be looked upon by others (Welfare Model), ii. Later, it was believed that disability is some kind of deform which can be treated through medical procedures (Medical Model), iii. Then, people started looking at disabilities through social welfare lenses whereby they believed that persons with disabilities should be supported by the society (Social Model), iii. Now, people have shifted their perception into being more human rights sensitive and believing that person with disability is a human and should be treated like one (Human rights-based Model_. However, she says that stigma and stereotypical attitude towards disability exits, which shows that we are still struggling somewhere between Welfare and Social Model. She also talked about societal judgments and notions on SRHR and sexuality of persons with disabilities. They are de-humanized with claims that they either do not have or have too much sexual interests. She also engaged the participants in questions/answers game to clarify their concept on disability and how it is, or it is not associated with their sexuality. Then on the later half of the day, Mr. Punya Bhandari (SRHR educator) facilitated session on orientation on contraceptive devices and its features. He described about the different types of contraceptive devices. He explained about temporary and permanent methods of contraceptive devices. Most of the participants got chance to learn and feel the contraceptive devices such as male condom, female condom (femidom), pills, Copper T, and so on for the first time.  Mr. Bhandari provided each participant with an opportunity to feel the devices and learn its uses. In this way, the third day ended.

The fourth day’s session was formally started by Ms. Neera Adhikari (Undersecretary, Lalitpur Metropolitan City). Her session was based on law and sexuality. She discussed about and explained about existing laws regarding sexuality. She also made the participants aware about understanding violence and sexual abuse and take up their case to the concerned authority as soon as possible. She encouraged the participants to exercise their rights while also being mindful of their duties.  After her session, Ms. Sarita took session on sexuality and its link with the culture. She explained the social construction of gender and how society defines a role of man and women from the beginning of life. She engaged the participants in group work and asked them to share about their knowledge on the above discussed differences they have identified in society. After this, Ms. Jalasa Sapkota (member of Prayatna Nepal) took session on Internet and Sexuality, where she explained about different risks that comes with the use of internet and how these risks can be minimized or controlled. She also highlighted the importance of privacy by making the participants aware on importance of maintaining digital safety. She highlighted that on this modern time, digital well-being is equally important as physical and mental wellbeing. Not only that, she described that internet is a medium to express, explore and enjoy our sexuality. She further talked about the use of internet to fulfill our sexual desires like by browsing sites to watch porn or even get sex education. She gave some tips to the participants to enjoy their time in internet about learning, exploring and enjoying such things by staying safe. She introduced the idea of using incognito mode while browsing private / sexual contents. She also encouraged the participants to open up about discussing these things as they are basic human desires and nothing to be ashamed of. She related the examples with herself and explained that internet can be a safe medium to get sexual pleasure, if used with caution. After her session, Ms. Sarita engaged the participants in a game to teach them about the intersectionality aspect of sexuality. Through this session, she highlighted that gender, social class, education, history, race, and so on directly or indirectly impacts one’s sexuality, and hence all these are intertwined. In this way, the fourth day was ended.

The fifth day started with the reporter shared about the fourth day’s sessions learning and activities. The evaluator also evaluated the previous day. Then, the reporter for the day was also selected.  the reporter of the day was fixed. After this, the session on Advocacy and Sexuality was formally started by Ms. Sarita Lamichhane. She first asked participants about their understanding on advocacy. After listening to the participants, she explained about advocacy through different examples. She encouraged the participants that we can all advocate for our rights but for that, we should know the proper channel/methods of advocacy. She further described that identifying the problem and setting agenda is the first step of advocacy. Through this session, she also described the tools of advocacy. At the end of the fifth day, Ms. Sarita asked the reporter to review and evaluator to evaluate the session. After this, the participants were asked to share their learning within the five days. Participants put their views one by one. Also, they were asked to rank the session, facilitator, organizer, management etc. through which organizer could proceed accordingly in coming future. In this way, five days training came to an end. Ms. Sarita thanked everyone who were directly and indirectly involved to make the training successful and fruitful.

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Prayatna Nepal is an organization established to works for visually impaired women and girls. We empower visually impaired women and girls to take their lives in their own hand.
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