I extend my support and solidarity to people, across the spectrum of gender and sexuality, who want to break closed doors and walls to establish safe spaces where one can love freely, without inhibitions; people who seek to re-define love and intimacy in their own independent, non-patriarchal terms.
Parents and significant adults in the lives of the Neelams of the world have been programmed to see age-appropriate sexual behaviour through the very narrow lens of “problems and disorders”. Their engagement of professionals like myself is mostly restricted to seeking to curb in the Neelams what is natural and joyous.
Every year we participate in an international campaign known as “The 16 Days Campaign” which runs from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day). It is an organising strategy by individuals and organisations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
As development professionals, our tasks involve reflecting on the norms that service providers, colleagues and field staff engaging with communities hold on to so strongly. How can programmes create safe spaces to match up to service providers’ professional and personal beliefs so that they can challenge those norms in their own families and be non-judgmental?
In some of the country’s most conflicted regions, activism on issues of sexuality (if it's aligned to human rights) is both a risky affair and one of secondary importance in the midst of larger socio-political and historical issues. The topic of human rights tends to center on gun violence, AFSPA, statehood and insurgency.