Consent Conference: How do we have conversations around consent?

Bangalore witnessed a conference on 27th July,2019, which was an amalgamation of ideas, identities and confusions melted in two languages – English and Kannada. A conference hosted by Partners in Law and Development, Sanagama, Cieds Collective, Alternative Forum and Hidden Pockets was an attempt to bring different communities together to dig deeper in conversations around consent.   The Consent conference  was an attempt to take conversations on consent deeper, not only in the terrain of the familiar – mainly workspaces and gender relationships – recognised by law and regulation but also the unfamiliar spaces. It brought together the diverse understandings of the different communities. Most of the current conversations around consent is fixated with law, or trying to gather evidence to establish consensual relationship. It is unable to capture the different complexities that one faces while trying to give or receive consent. This conference was an attempt to dig deeper and find out some of the finer details. The whole day conference was a rich experience having community members from Sex Workers Collective, Garment Workers Union, Polyamory groups, Trans Community and Students Community. Various facets of consent discussed :
Consent in a workspace:
In work places consent is often a power play which gets lost in the negotiation for job security. The men who often are the authority figure create an authoritative environment and dominate the women, who keep quiet in fear of losing their jobs. Sexual harassment is part of this authoritative environment and there is no room for negotiation. The attitude of the men is that it is normal and part of the job. Examples of sexual harassment are taunts, verbal abuse, touching and favouritism. Women have no power in the matter. Some leave their jobs and the rest are stuck because of financial conditions and the cultural taboo of quitting.
Audience participating over discussion
The business of rejection:
The business of consent is related to the issue of rejection and the feeling was that we needed no further understanding. Rejection is loss of self esteem for men, which is considered a loss of manhood. For women, it is like being shamed in a certain way. Most of us had no clue about how to handle rejection, and hence consent did not seem like an exciting prospect. If you need personal assistance, please WhatsApp us at 8861713567.
Desire as part :
One of the sex workers beautifully captured this aspect. She said, “Sex is work for her and desire is not born in her work. Sexual harassment is not viewed as an issue in her profession. She is vulnerable in the outside world as her role is to cater to other people’s desires and there is no room for consent in their eyes”. Often it was difficult to draw a line between where did consent start and where did it finish.
Consent in identities :
Some of the identities like Trans gender community, are often at the receiving end of consent as it is often assumed that they changed their communities fully aware that they might be subjected to violence. As one of the speakers mentioned: “there is a hierarchy in transgender culture. Begging and sex work are the two main jobs performed by trans people. The older individuals usually beg while the younger ones are forced into sex work. In some aspects of their work, consent is respected like in begging. Money is never forcefully demanded. It is requested, and a refusal is respected. Whereas in brothels, sex workers are classified based on gender, age, choice of sex (anal, vaginal…) by clients and the brothel owners. Consent is non-existent in this environment.
Within different castes :
One of the panellists shared her story about navigating consent while living in a live in relationship with someone from different caste. End of the day, she was left by him due to caste differences. She spent 7 years of her life with him. Did she give consent? Yes. Was she prepared to be left due to caste politics? No.
Panel with students and Hidden Pockets
Informed Consent:
Even though we have been using this term in all procedures, one of the panelists felt that students, or professionals don’t have ability or understanding to ensure that people understand what are they undertaking. Nobody explains the process, and often it is just a signature. These all were different stories shared by panelists who lived through and negotiated with it on a daily basis. The idea was to understand consent from our lived experiences and see how could one seek for and how could one receive.

Reach for the stars, rainbow and beyond! #makeyourcityinclusive goes to Kochi

Add some red

Some green

May be some yellow

A dash of blue

Definitely some orange

Don’t forget the violet

And finally make some room for some indigo

Mix it altogether and get the wildest, most colourful and happiest rainbow!

Rainbow is one of the most inclusive symbols and rightly so. It has room for all colours. You can be blue and yet be yellow. You can be any colour you want to be and you’d still find your space in a rainbow because that is how cool a rainbow is.

With #makeyourcityinclusive being in its next phase, it only made sense for us at Hidden Pockets to use a rainbow. But why use a rainbow while launching our campaign in Kochi?

As we all know Kerala is the most literate state in India. Often, education does not go beyond just literacy. It does not necessarily translate into any change in behaviour. It is true education when that shift in attitude happens. Kerala has truly pioneered in achieving that distinction by making its state inclusive of all going even beyond gender distinctions. It is the first state in the country to introduce a welfare policyfor transgenders in 2015. In 2016, the government introduced free Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)and further allocated budgets for employment and skill training progress for the transgender community, introduced Gender Taxi’s driven by the transgenders, all in an effort to remove the social stigma around them.

With all this happening in Kerala, it only made sense for our campaign to move to this state in its next phase. Being alive, open and the hub for anything cultural, Kochi became our next destination to be. We’d like to capture life and stories around inclusivity in Kochi and the state of Kerala. Let’s make an example out of Kochi, an inspiration for others. Tell us about the Hidden Pockets in your  city. What is your safe spot? What makes it safe? Where should we go when we visit Kerala? What are your recommendations? Tell us all about your city and your state in the form below. We are listening!

Follow the hashtag #makeyourcityinclusive for other updates on our campaign. Coming soon to other cities too!

About #makeyourcityinclusive:

#makeyourcityinclusive is Hidden Pockets’ campaign on making all cities inclusive, making everyone more inclusive. Tell us about all the places in your city that are disabled-friendly, open to single women even late at night, safe for senior citizens or not homophobic. How do we talk openly about mental health? Is your city inclusive to all them and more?

#PutARingOnIt : 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

 

The 16 Days of ActivismAgainst Gender-Based Violence, a global campaign spanning from 25 November through 10 December happens every year and this year the theme of the campaign is “Leave no one behind: end violence against women and girls.

Millions have shared the hashtag #MeToo and other campaigns, exposing the sheer magnitude of sexual harassment and other forms of violence that women everywhere suffer, every day.

At Hidden Pockets Collective, we decided to seek for right to healthy life this 16 days of Activism. No women and No girl should be denied the right to health: sexual and reproductive health. We want young women and girls, married and unmarried women to start having conversations around health and talk about issues around contraception and know their choices.

We are using Beyonce’s song : #PutARingOnItas a symbol to talk about options and choices that young women and girls have in India to keep themselves healthy and happy.

Not providing young women and girls with options and choices is also gender based violence which can systematically further make the position of women and girls worse in the communities.

 

 

 

Picture of Beyonce