The lives of disabled children and young adults in the Indian context, much like in many other contexts are guided by ideas, decisions, structures, understandings and narratives constructed by able-bodied systems, which exclude and/or erase the participation and unique experiences of disabled people. The experience of love, friendship and pleasure for the disabled children, teens and young adults are erased, infantilized, stigmatized, even demonized. In a quote from the book, Sex and Disability and in asserting what such experiences can make possible, “Disability…has the potential to transform sex, create challenges about what and who is sexy and sexualizable, what counts as sex, what desire is.”
For caregivers, to open conversations about friendship, pleasure and sex comes with many complexities. One, that conversations about developing friendships, pleasures and desires in people with disabilities play very little part in the public discourse. Secondly, the able-bodiedness, medical-ness of the world structures enable stories of cure, integrating into school systems, therapy, surgery but seldom enable stories of social networks, friendships, first crush and first love, intimate relationships and pleasure. Caregivers also express concerns about their children with disabilities being particularly vulnerable due to risk of pregnancy, STIs and experience of violence in relationships among other reasons.
As we spend the month of September at Ummeed Child Development Center, advocating for rights of children, young people with disabilities and their caregivers, we will be spending the month with caregivers, hosting conversations, exchange of ideas, spaces to dismantle able-bodiedness that permeate into spaces of friendship, pleasure and love. Our month will be themed around “Friendship, Love and Pleasure for children and young people with disabilities”. Keeping tuning to this space, @narrativetherapyindia and https://www.facebook.com/ummeednarrativetherapy/ to know more.
“How do we make the space to talk honestly and wrenchingly about all the multi-layered systems of injustice that target some of us and privilege others for who we are? The layers are so tangled: gender folds into disability, disability wraps around class, class strains against race, race snarls into sexuality, sexuality hangs onto gender, all of it finally piling into our bodies.”
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