Khadiha Sinanan: Helping Young People Talk About Sex (August 9, 2015)

 

 

Trinidad Guardian Article on World Contraception Day Ambassador, Khadija Sinanan

Trinidad Guardian Article on World Contraception Day Ambassador, Khadija Sinanan

I enjoyed doing this interview with Khadija Sinanan, in August 2015, because it was awesome to be able to show that young persons in T&T were being respected and had a voice. It was also exciting to highlight issues and topics that are important but too often are whispered about but never really spoken about openly.

The topics of contraception, as well as sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are taboo in varying degrees across the world. Women Deliver, a global advocacy non-profit organization, and Bayer HealthCare want to change that. They are partnering to collect the stories of young persons worldwide through a three-yearWorld Contraception Day Ambassadors Project. To this end, six young ambassadors have been chosen to carry out the project in different regions and Trinbagonian attorney Khadijah Sinanan, 24, is the Ambassador for Latin American and the Caribbean.
She said the aim is to produce shareable digital visual stories to appeal to young people. “It is an advocacy project but it’s more so focused on telling stories of young people about contraception and just removing the stigma about talking about sex and contraception, which is a huge issue everywhere. A major part of this project is having young people talk to young people as it creates a different space in which they can feel comfortable.”
Sinanan says her project will include a questionnaire as well as interviews which can be kept anonymous, with the end product being a short film. “In developing that, you have to think about what makes young people comfortable. You could speak a lot differently as a young person going through it as opposed to someone a little older, as sometimes people just tend to forget about what the issues are. It’s especially true in such a different technological climate, because everything is so much more fast-paced, yet the conversations about sex continue to be a wall of silence. Sex is all around young people, but still in schools there isn’t a proper SRHR curriculum, so clearly the need is very real.”
“Latin America and the Caribbean is a huge region, with different languages, so I’ll be including a Spanish-speaking country, Belize, with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the region, as well as a French-speaking country, St. Lucia, which speaks Kweyol, a French Patois, where a low rate of condom use is contributing to an HIV/AIDS epidemic.”
“I want to feature a range of stories that don’t typically feature in the mainstream narrative of SRHR, including youth voices from rural communities, which are often poor and the worst affected when it comes to lack of access to rights and lack of access to information. I also want to feature LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex) youth, which is a totally ignored community when it comes to this kind of issue. The focus generally is marginalized youth voices. As the project develops, I expect to come across different groupings of youth that would have established spaces for themselves quietly but have not had the chance to talk about this issue and whose concerns we might not know about,”  Sinanan said.
“In talking about contraception as a black feminist from the global South, I can’t ignore all the other dimensions, such as gender, race and class, that play into a lack of access to and information about contraception. I’ll also be exploring the cultural reasons as to why this phenomenon continues to occur and trying to identify the intersectionalities in the stories.”
The project began on August 1 and ends on October 31, 2015. Sinanan said she looks forward to speaking with young people between the ages of 15 to 35 and listening to their stories about their experiences with contraception. If they have a story to share, she would love to hear it and the interview can be kept anonymous. She can be reached at khadija.sinanan@gmail.com and on Twitter @KhadijaSinanan. The survey, which is kept anonymous, can be found athttp://goo.gl/forms/6qOciVvRJL.
The video and the data collected during the project will be presented at the UN General Assembly in September and during the Women Deliver Global Conference in Denmark next year. It will be shared on social media as part of advocacy efforts, as well as by Bayer and a network of international NGOs. “There’s a lack of quantitative as well as qualitative data and stories from young people about contraception in the region, so this project will feature heavily in developing advocacy strategies, especially for SRHR curricula in schools. I hope to have the project available across platforms and in different languages eventually,” Sinanan stated.
Sinanan previously served as a youth volunteer with ASPIRE (Advocates for Safe Parenthood Improving Reproductive Equity), a non-profit which advocates for improved sexual and reproductive rights for women and girls in T&T.
She currently serves as a Co-Director of WOMANTRA, a youth-led feminist non-profit organization based in T&T.
The link for the article can also be found here: http://digital.guardian.co.tt/?iid=125549#folio=124
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