3 June 2008
By Chitra Nair
Adolescent sexuality is not something that is discussed openly by parents or teenagers. To help redress this situation, collegian Gurleen Khandpur has set up an organisation to help promote a healthy attitude
What encouraged Gurleen to start such an organisation was the fact that there’s a serious lack of awareness among people about sexuality. This became all the more evident when Gurleen conducted a two–month workshop in January on the subject.
“The workshop made me realise how something like Free would help people. It also opened my eyes to the fact that two months was not enough for a serious issue like this. There is a need to build continued awareness among youth.”
And so, Free was established, and today 30 youngsters help Gurleen. Another Fergusson College student Shreya Kanoi runs the organisation full–time. For Gurleen, it is an endeavour to help people find full expression of their sexuality. “We stand to promote the values of respect, responsibility and sensitivity among people. We believe knowledge and awareness about issues regarding sexuality are the foundation of these values,” she says.
To help them in their endeavour, the NGO has enlisted the help of three city-based physicians Anant and Shanta Sathe and Sridevi Telang. The aim is to conduct workshops on various issues regarding sexuality. One such workshop was conducted for parents on March 23. It dealt with the issues of adolescence. “The idea was to inform parents how to communicate with their children during the awkward years of adolescence.”
The organisation has some more workshops lined up for this month. “One of them is for the children in the age group 9 to 17 and their parents, where we plan to discuss issues the crop up in the adolescent years,” she says. On March 30, Free had conducted a silent candlelight march which, according to Gurleen was against all forms of abuse and towards promoting healthy sexuality. The march saw more than 100 participants including workers from various other NGOs in the city, apart from youngsters and adults.
Gurleen knows what she wants to achieve through Free. “It is easier if there is a forum where people can share their queries, fears and doubts and also be able to make choices while being aware of the consequences. This is what we at Free aim to provide,” she says.