Taking on taboos

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  • Published 8.09.09

I wanted to work with taboo issues,” says Mirna Guha, a second-year masters student of English at Jadavpur University. As founder of Project OBO: Our Bodies, (Our) Opinions, with help from seven other college students, she has done just that. A social awareness drive, OBO takes on some of the issues that affect the youth today — child sexual abuse, domestic violence, Adam/Eve teasing, AIDS awareness, sexual orientation/identity and sexual/physical development.

The OBO team consists of three sections of “like-minded people”. Athena Mondal and Lav Kanoi are in charge of logistics and publicity; Priyanka Kumar, Soumi Sarkar and Arjun Raj (the only one not from JU; he is from Wigan & Leigh) are in charge of creative components of the programme; Nayantara Mazumdar and Shreya Sanghani look after resource provision and module creation. “The aim is to create a space within schools and utilise their talents to create awareness,” explains Mirna, 22, who has been working in the development sector for over three years now.

The workshops, which started in August, used art, poetry, music and dance to work with 13 city schools in three modules — Exploring Myself, My Rights, Justice and Equality and I As A Change-maker. In October, an exhibition-workshop will be held over three days, along with a two-day indoor presentation, covering venues from malls to colleges to streets.

Mirna won the Lattoo Fellowship, enabled by the Sri Ratan Tata Trust (Delhi) via The Lattoo Academy, a one-week residential course last October for young change-makers. The project was supported by Anjali (a mental health rights NGO) and Start Up!, a Delhi-based NGO, along with Rotary Club, Inner City.

“We intend to equip students between the ages of 14 and 18 with accurate information to help them protect themselves. Child sexual abuse affects one in five people, it could be a friend and you’d never know,” signs off Mirna.