Sex education for the visually impaired- DNA- By Rito Paul
Sexuality is not something one tends to associate with the visually impaired. So strongly are they defined by their disability that other aspects of their lives, such as their sexual needs, are not even considered. To redress this imbalance, Voice Vision, an NGO for the blind, held a sexuality and intimacy workshop on Sunday at the Hiranandani College of Nursing in Powai.
The workshop was divided into three sessions, knowing the human body, sexuality and relationships and sexual abuse. Gynaecologists, psychologists, public health doctors and disability rights activists were invited to hold the sessions, which was attended by around 30 visually impaired participants.
“Sex is still a taboo in India. So when we mailed people with the invitation, they were very happy with the idea of the workshop, but were hesitant to attend,” said Sushmita Bubna, founder-director of Voice Vision.
Nidhi Garima Goyal, a writer and activist, who was also leading the sexuality and relationships session of the workshop, spoke about the asexual way in which disabled people, including those who are visually impaired, are perceived.
“People don’t tend to recognise that like all the non-disabled people, we too have sexual needs. We are treated as asexual beings, dealing only with the challenges of our disability. We are not treated as sexual beings who want to have relationships and get married,” she said.
According to Goyal, proper sex education classes for the visually impaired in schools are few and far between.
“In most schools, the visually impaired are not allowed to take science classes after class 7, because they can’t draw diagrams and conduct lab work,” added Bubna.
Dr Evelet Sequeira, a public health consultant, spoke about the caution she had to exercise while conducting the sessions to avoid inadvertently offending the participants.
“I was speaking about vaginal discharges and a participant asked me how to know when there is a problem. Out of habit, I answered that she should go to the doctor when the discharge turned green or yellow. Then I quickly realised that they wouldn’t be able to make out the colour. I finally gave her some pointers about the consistency of the discharge,” she said.