These are the words of Vijay, a class eight pupil, who attended Fireflies, a camp organized by means of VOICE 4 Girls, an NGO that has been running with youngsters in schools under the Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS) and Telangana Tribal Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TTWREIS). The societies run residential academic institutions (class 5 to degree stage) inside the country beneath the Telangana Ministry of Scheduled Caste Development and the Telangana Ministry of Tribal Welfare respectively.

Recently, they have been doing something quite refreshing – with the assist of VOICE 4 Girls, they’re teaching boys in those schools approximately menstruation, mental fitness, consent and more. And the impact of the equal is contemplated in Vijay’s words.

 

It’s 2019, however in many faculties, sexuality training, if it exists within the first vicinity, is still restrained to a one-off session in which girls are talked to approximate menstruation. Though the boys are excluded from this dialogue, menstruation will become all however an open secret, often becoming a matter of shame for the girls. To deal with this, VOICE four Girls had organized ‘Fireflies’, a camp for boys to talk about problems like consent, reproductive health, intellectual fitness and so forth.

Vijay’s video was shared on Twitter by way of RS Praveen Kumar, secretary of TSWREIS as well as TTWREIS, who pressured that empowerment of girls could not be finished without educating guys approximately gender and empathy too.

What takes place at the camps?

Fireflies, that is an 8-day camp held from May 6 to thirteen, engaged with 743 adolescent boys from Telangana Social Welfare Schools from round 94 locations. The camps have been carried out simultaneously in 4 specific locations across Telangana, in Husnabad, Tirumalayapalem, Miryalaguda, and Boinapally.

VOICE four Girls designs its content based on primary research with college students. Faiza Khan, who designed the curriculum for the lads’ camp, says that the cloth is rooted within the boys’ social context, and is again and again revised primarily based on how college students reply. Further, whilst it is normally in English, Telugu variations of the books also are available. To de-jargonize ideas, phrases from the local language are used too.

The camp counselors are generally younger university college students, who are rigorously educated in magnificence management and using ordinary lifestyles stories when explaining difficult ideas. Female counselors educate on the women’ camps and male counselors at the lads’ camp.

Students are given the curated books, but studying isn’t confined to the page. The topics and ideas are taught creatively, using skits, games and sports.

For example, to initiate a communication around consent, counselors facilitate an interest where college students cut up into corporations and come up with a skit approximately making and serving tea. The conversation around consent starts via facilitating a discussion approximately the soreness of having a person impose a drink after they do now not want it, and then movements directly to such things as giving hugs and setting up bodily touch. Boys are endorsed to empathize with ladies’ studies in such eventualities.

Another interest they undertook to explain the idea of sufferer blaming to boys was one where they have been requested to stay lifestyles within the day of a woman, Rani. “They truly took a liking to this interest and got towels to get dressed up as Rani. Then they are made to play act instances from her existence, where she faces violence and is blamed for it. The roleplay by the lads turned into splendid,” Faiza says.

While debriefing after the interest, Faiza says the boys felt actually empathetic towards women and skilled a leap forward. “They said they’d never realized ladies went thru this stuff,” she says.

A safe area

Laasya says that the getting to know curve with the Telangana Social Welfare Schools students has been excessive as they deal with topics that aren’t talked about or are taboo. So, college students are curious to recognize extra.

The camp additionally has become an area for reflection and introspection for those young boys as nicely. For example, there was a boy who got here to camp with the firm notion that women had been incorrect to put on short skirts. “The counselor and different children attempted to cause with him however he wouldn’t budge. However, his outlook modified by using day eight. He came and advised his counselor that ladies have the right to wear what they need and ought to not be judged for it. The transition turned into quite heartening,” shares Faiza.

Then, there was a 12-12 months-antique who mentioned feeling depressed and suicidal. After the mental health chapter of the camp, he stated he felt a sense of attractiveness, Faiza says.

While those consequences are heartening, Praveen Kumar says that it’s too early to speak approximately lengthy-time period impact. “We are hoping these boys turn into more sensitive closer to girls, about their experiences and biological procedures going ahead. We desire that the kids can be sharing what they’ve found out with their friends and parents. We are planning to maintain to behavior such focus applications on a bigger scale within the future.”

Why talk to boys?

VOICE four Girls conducts hobby-primarily based camps in authorities and cheap personal schools for 12 to 15-yr-olds, addressing issues like fitness, protection, and future making plans, even as simultaneously building English speak me abilties and essential questioning. It has in particular labored with adolescent women from Telangana Social Welfare Schools for the past 5 years. However, while carrying out co-ed workshops in the past, camp counselors felt the need to speak to boys about women’ experiences, says Anusha Bharadwaj, VOICE four Girls Executive Director.

“Fireflies was the primary segment of the lads’ application. It delivered them to various topics such as intellectual fitness, reproductive health, violence, rights, role of media, and many others. Building in this, the second section, Supernova, will talk approximately deconstructing gender, recognising socially-built masculinity, and gender-primarily based violence, amongst other topics. There is also a management aspect in Supernova, pushing them to be network leaders,” Laasya Reddy, a Content and Communications Officer at VOICE 4 Girls, tells TNM. “We wish to lead them to ambassadors who can take steps toward creating a gender same world.”

Praveen Kumar says that the workshops have been a step to inspire young boys to come to be touchy, empathetic and responsible guys. “Boys regularly convey stereotypical notions round what ladies and ladies can or can not do. These boys are going to develop up to be guys, husbands, co-workers. We need them to be higher ready to handle their relationships with girls around them. It’s important that they may be capable of make way for range anyplace they become as adults,” he asserts.

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