In their SexEdTalks series, AWARE India aims to educate parents to help sensitise their children about gender issues.

Aware India conducts a video series called SexEdTalks in Tamil
news Gender and sexuality Sunday, June 28, 2020 - 17:05

There has always been stigma and discomfort associated with having a conversation on sex and gender identity with children. A majority of parents brush away any queries from their children, and many a time, such conversations do not go beyond distinguishing between a safe and unsafe touch.

To address this general stigma, create awareness among parents and encourage them to have healthy conversations with their children, AWARE India, a non-government organisation that focusses on gender equality, has been running a video series called SexEdTalks (Sex Education Talks), in Tamil. These videos, the NGO said, is made by women and men who have been denied any opportunity to have a healthy conversation on sex education at their homes or among friends. 

These videos by AWARE India, a Chennai-based NGO started in 2012, discuss a wide range of topics, including the sexual behaviour of children up to four years of age, handling children exposed to the pornographic content, on body rights and boundary for children. The team has produced 30 videos so far and post them on YouTube.

Sensitising parents: First step to change

According to Sandhiyan, the founder of AWARE (Awareness for Wo+men to Advocate their Rights through Equality), the aim of producing the video is to make parents aware of the misconceptions and problems of leaving the children uninformed about sex and sexuality. “By changing the mindset of the parents and by helping children to be gender-sensitive, we can, in turn, pass these understandings to the coming generations,” said Sandhiyan.

In a video on consent, for example, the volunteer from AWARE explained that everything starts with consent, even if they are children, woman and men. The best way a parent can teach children about consent is by not forcing them to do something. For example, if a child does not want to be lifted or if they do not want to go along with another person, these are signs that the child is not okay and the parents should understand that they do not have the child’s consent.

“By following this, you are teaching your children that they are the boss of their body. If consent is a confusing word for the child, parents can use the term ‘permission’. However, most importantly, as parents, you should teach the children to boldly say no if they are not comfortable doing something or dislike what others are doing,” Aishwarya, a volunteer, explained in her video.

Understanding audience based on viewership

As children undergo behavioural changes at close quarters during the lockdown, many parents have taken the videos positively and have given encouraging responses, said Sandhiyan. Parents have, especially, been willing to watch contents that cite real-life examples than just proferring explainers.

“Videos on what to do if a child uses bad words, how can parents handle children who watch pornographic clips and on masturbation received more views than a video on the introduction to sex education,” pointed out Sandhiyan.

However, Sandhiyan said that all videos received good responses except the one on raising children sensitive to the LGBTQIA+ community. “When we analysed the video, we realised that many did not want to click the link that had the term LQBTQIA+. Even though some parents of this generation are ready to teach their children about sexual behaviours, they are not ready to bring up the topic of LGBTQIA+. That is when we decided to make more videos and online workshops to sensitise parents on gender diversity,” explained Sandhiyan.

Reviewing content

The team of volunteers producing the videos thoroughly scrutinise the script to keep a check on gender bias and discriminatory content. “Volunteers from AWARE make videos on topics like menstrual hygiene. However, for videos on sex education, we are involving friends who faced problems due to lack of knowledge and guidance on sexual education. For such videos, we have a team of content checkers who look out for any discriminatory elements in the script and eliminate them. Sometimes, the volunteers may be shy in pronouncing certain words. In such cases, we conduct an orientation session for them, to help them speak up,” elucidated Sandhiyan.

As part of their next step, AWARE is planning to reach out to a different target audience. “We will continue to make more videos on the need for sex education, the mental health of children and more on normalising conversation on LGBTQIA+ among the parents,” he added.  

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