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I’m often asked, the  the reason for my happiness.  Who wouldn’t be if they get paid to talk about sex, I reply.  I work in the field of HIV/AIDS and talking about sex and sexuality is an integral part of my job. Every official meeting is peppered with words like condom, lubricant and penis.  Believe me I would not change it for anything in my life. I love it!

There is however another aspect to this. Within the confines of my office, where I am regarded as efficient, hard working and sincere, I am termed as shameless by most people on the outside. There are no prizes for guessing why!  The ease with which I can utter the taboo words and carry on discussions about   them without the slightest bit of embarrassment has earned me a lot of flack within my family and friends.

 I have often questioned myself as to why  any sexual activity, and by that logic the sexual organs of human anatomy  are regarded as “dirty” ( Thereby the term “ private parts” , something that needs to be hidden from the  rest of the world and even from ourselves). We simply do not talk about this at all.  My three year old niece would tell you where her eyes, ears, nose are but she starts giggling if you try to ask her where her vagina is. Her six year old sister would promptly say “ Mamma,  aunty is using  a “dirty word” and turn deep red as if she’s been in the presence of something extremely shameful. They are six and three years old for God’s sake!  They learn from their surroundings and inculcate the values that they see around them, i.e. values of shame and embarrassment regarding one’s body.  The shame runs so deep that we are extremely reticent to disrobe in front of a doctor, who’s only doing his/ her job and probably saving your life.  

One would think that with changing times we would become comfortable with our bodies embrace them and talk about them without any shame . In fact we are conditioned to believe that we are living in modern times where the definition of morality is very different from what it was 60 years back. You only have to look around to see this myth break into pieces. Afganistan, a country which in the 1970’s was extremely liberal in the treatment of its women and the interaction between the two genders, has now “imprisoned its women in burkhas where the only window of hope through which they can view the world is the grilled net in front of their eyes.

Why just the women, men too were subjected to strict dress code where they had to wear their kurta salwar ( Baggy shirt and trousers) of a specific length.  It’s not just Afghanistan, even so called progressive countries in the western part of the world  still believe in clothing restrictions.  Not only do  these strict  restrictions tell us what to hide, but even non-titillating aspects of the human body are stowed away.  Men and women are supposed to observe decency at all times by the way they dress up. With so much advocacy going on for breast feeding, the simple act of nursing  is regarded as inappropriate if done in public spaces.  A part of a woman’s anatomy the prime function of which is to nurture and nurse an infant, has been given such importance of sexual nature  that women  are made to feel ashamed to breastfeed their own children in a bus or a park.  God forbid if the woman happens to be out , one would prefer the poor child to howl away due to hunger  rather than the mother feeding him/her.

I belong to a country which has a population of 1.27 billion! Surely these people were not dropped by fairies ( As I was made to believe whenever I asked the story of my birth). If we can produce so many people why are we ashamed of talking about the organs and the act that leads to this. It is nothing but ironical that a society where a book has been written about every conceivable sexual position that a human is capable of  doing, where  temples  depict men and women ( and even two men and two women) in the most intimate positions, should we shy away from making its people  feel comfortable in their own skin. Let’s not forget that the one of the most revered symbol in the Hindu religion, the   Shiva Linga,, is phallus penetrating a vagina.

One of my friend’s shared a link about Al-Wakrah stadium proposed to be built in Quater for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Quatar has been in the news for all of the wrong reasons recently. Amnesty International’s report “ The Dark Side of Migration  states that “There are 1.38 million foreign nationals working in Qatar, 94 per cent of the total workforce.  The majority are from South and Southeast Asia, and this number is expected to rise significantly in the coming years...” The report focuses on blatant violation of labour and human rights of these migrants in the hands of both the public and private sector , especially of the migrants involved in building these stadia for the World Cup.

 The estimated cost of the FIFA 2022 World is approximately US$220[1] billion, 60 times more than what South Africa spent on 2010 FIFA World cup. With so much expenditure and such gross violation what have they managed to come up with? A stadium that looks like a vagina’s labia. I find it not just paradoxical  but extremely hilarious that a country  dictated by such strict norms around  morality and discomfort about  discussing human body  would erect( No pun indented please) building so sexual in its appeal.    Could it be an un-intended way of expressing one’s repressed emotions?

Our bodies are temples where the soul resides. They need to be loved and nurtured and not feel ashamed of. Now, when you see a mother nursing her child, don’t turn away in embarrassment, remember she is doing the noblest of jobs,  i.e: feeding a hungry kid.



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