Posts Tagged 'sexuality'

The Chaos Within… TWATS

52 young people have come together and identified themselves as TWATS!

Together We Are The Solution.

Twat – noun vulgar meaning vulva.

Twat – noun slang meaning idiot.

Definitely derogatory! Yet… I find this empowering. In the field of HIV, Sex and Sexuality, in South Asia especially, we need idiots who are willing to put themselves forward to be identified by their willingness to talk openly about HIV. Idiots? Yes, idiots. With the ethos of Dostoevsky, an Idiot is one that does not conform to social and cultural expectations. If we are to build a team of young people in Sri Lanka who will be advocates for the rights of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and our very real, yet oft ignored, sexual minorities, and advocates for the rights of young people to enjoy access to accurate and frank sex education (moving past teachers requesting us to read that chapter at home because it won’t come for the exam), then we have to be willing to be an idiot.

Irony aside, is it foolish to speak about HIV awareness in a country that enjoys the lowest HIV prevalence in the region?

No. It is foolishness not to. The time for slapping ourselves on the back about not having a significant number of PLHIV (thereby playing a dangerous game that allows those who live with HIV to be reduced to faceless numbers, and so forgotten and ignored) is past. Why not flip the focus and take the necessary steps to ensure that Sri Lanka remains a low prevalent country? HIV infections increase every year… yet sadly those who are identified with HIV belong to low socio-economic groups (they are the only PLHIV willing to come forward out of NEED) and although over 90% of PLHIV in our country have contracted HIV through unprotected, condomLESS, heterosexual sex, it is still wrongly perceived as a gay disease.

This is why we need Dostoevsky’s Idiots. This is why we need our young team of twats. We need to go out there and engage with people, to shake them free of misconceptions that cling with the tenacity that only ignorance and half-boiled information allows. We need to put an end to the silence that veils so many discussions on sex and sexuality, relegating sex and sexuality to no more than vulgar innuendo or at best a discussion on the relative merits of the latest porn star.

I salute our young and not so young team of TWATS. I am proud to be one of you.

HB

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Together We Are the Solution – Press Release, July 2009

Rational:

In an effort to raise the bar on Sri Lanka’s response to HIV & AIDS, a group of local and International organizations that actively work in the field of HIV & AIDS, Sexuality and Sexual Reproductive Rights (SRH) have together to form one collective voice! This coalition who have adopted the slogan ‘Together We Are the Solution’ as their mantra, believes in consistent and clear messages in terms of advocacy and awareness on HIV & AIDS, Sexuality and SRH.

Whilst Sri Lanka remains “a low prevalence” country HIV & AIDS infections are on the rise, 202 new infections were reported in 2008. Moreover, if we are to learn the lessons from other South Asian nations like India, a country that has a “low prevalence” of HIV should strive to remain a “low prevalence” country. Awareness, education and advocacy are needed now!

The HIV & AIDS response thus far in Sri Lanka has been focused mainly on most at risk populations (MARPS) e.g. Commercial sex workers, Intravenous Drug users, trishaw drivers, beach boys etc, however the coalition believes that all populations matter, especially the youth, if we are to arrest the spread of HIV in our country. The marginalization of MARPS, the stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV (PLHIV) results from the silence and ignorance that surrounds issues related to HIV, sex and sexuality.

The coalition wants to go beyond isolated workshops, events that spring up around World AIDS Day, and seeks to challenge the young people and not so young people of our country to LEARN MORE! STAND UP! & SPEAK OUT! To remove the culture of silence and fear that surrounds HIV, sex and sexuality and to move towards and equitable society for all.

We want to have more than the token World AIDS Day event- this is about continuous awareness raising of HIV & AIDS related issues whilst at the same time to advocate the rights and needs of those who already live with HIV in Sri Lanka,”

says Milinda Rajapaksha from the National Youth Coalition for Sexual & Reproductive Rights.

Partners:

Currently, the coalition includes representation from Positive Hopes Alliance, Lanka + (PLHIV Support organizations), The Salvation Army, EQUAL GROUND, Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC), Beyond Borders, Companions on a Journey, The Youth committee of the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka, National Youth Coalition Sri Lanka (NYCSL), PANOS, National STD & AIDS Control programme (NSACP), Save Lanka Kids, World Vision and The Women’s Support Group. It is hoped that more agencies will join as the event-series gathers momentum leading up to World AIDS Day.

Candlelight Event coming to a Town near You from July to November 09:

With the full financial support from UNAIDS, Together We Are The Solution plan to begin their program in Colombo and then visit Kandy, Galle, Negombo, Batticaloa and Anuradhapura conducting similar events modified to suit the needs and requirements of the visited town. The event will include street theatre, quiz competitions, condom cricket and other interactive games and more! All designed specifically to discuss HIV, sex and sexuality in sensitive and culturally appropriate ways.

Volunteers:

A team of volunteers from across the island will be trained in handling the event and activities, as Together We Are the Solution believes in clear and consistent messaging in their education and awareness programmes. Volunteers will first be trained in Colombo at the Family Planning Association, 27/37, Bullers Lane, Colombo 07 on the 11 July. The first program will be held at Excel World in Colombo on the 19 July 2009 starting at 10 a.m. and culminating with the candlelight memorial at 6.30 p.m.

For more information see our blog
Or call Prathibha on 0715869955.

There’s nothing that can’t be done if we raise our voice as one’


RSS International Women’s Health Coalition

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