Play on social rights theme toast of youth festival

February 16th, 2009 - 7:06 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) The play opened with the theme of vulnerabilities and the situation was that of a truck driver negotiating with a sex worker, but on one condition - that he will not use a condom. The scene froze there and was then opened to the audience for discussion.

On the second day of the two-day national youth festival Monday, the magnet theatre by a group of youngsters, called for some active audience participation on rights, HIV and other vulnerability issues - and, as expected, generated a lot of interest.

“The play was awesome. Instead of just sitting there and watching others perform on a script that was already prepared, there we were, giving our opinion on what we thought should be the turn of events,” said Akshita Jain, a Delhi University student taking part in the festival.

“Not only did that get us, the audience, more involved in the play, but also encouraged a healthy discussion on themes like sexuality, HIV and rights which otherwise becomes a little tedious when done inside a boardroom.”

Thus, while the actors left the scene at the climax, the audience gave their opinion on what should be the next move - some said that sex worker should not oblige without the usage of a condom as she may pose serious health hazard to herself, while others suggested that there should be better awareness programmes for truck drivers.

More than 600 youth and members of communities at risk of getting HIV, like sex workers and truck drivers, came together in the festival to celebrate sexuality and engage in a dialogue on how to tackle different challenges.

Using various mediums like art, music, theatre and dance, the festival provided a platform to the young men and women as well as the vulnerable groups to bring forth their experience-based opinion on different issues and form a network so as to solve some of the problems together.

Akram Pasha, a male sex worker from Mysore, who also participated in the festival said: “It’s important that we keep having festivals and programmes like these so that vulnerable groups like all of us - sex workers, truck drivers and the youth - are in a constant dialogue, helping and supporting each other since we all have the same challenges”.

Another participant, Laila Gouthami of Warrangal in Andhra Pradesh added: “The strong presence of representatives from organisations of sexual minorities, made this festival extremely meaningful to us. Such national events will help us to clarify the many myths and misconceptions about sexual minorities”.

Organised by the Centre for Human Progress (CHP) and YP Foundation, a youth network working on social issues for the last six years, people from 15 states across the country participated in the festival.

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