Is consent just about yes or no? This is still a question that makes people go into a dilemma of how to answer that question. Are women in this country not trained to have their own boundaries? It’s important that we remind ourselves, again and again, of the importance of drawing boundaries and having these conversations in more common places at home, at work on the dining table with friends with daughters and sons, and many others.
SheThePeople speaks to Navya Naveli Nanda who runs Aara Health. Here’s an excerpt from that interview.
Are women really rethinking how they approach their bodies? Have they finally started having a deeper conversation with their bodies?
You know, women don’t necessarily prioritise their health care when it comes to a family setting. It’s always you know, the health of the child, the health of the husband, the health of the overall household. That primarily comes before the health of the woman herself. And I think that stems from the fact that women are so used to having their bodies controlled by everyone else but themselves because I think from a very young age we heal you know things like you know, you’re too skinny, you need to put on more weight how can you give birth in the future once you get married?
This has almost led to this problem of women not being able to prioritise their own health and safety because they think it’s something that’s going to be controlled by anybody else.
Consent is often confused. We don’t we consider it a fundamental right, so to speak. And more than that, it’s never considered a priority by women themselves. Why is that?
I think that in general, there’s a lack of conversation around consent and you know when I look at consent I’m not just talking about you know, consent for sexual activity. I’m saying simple things and you know, I personally do this as you know, I barge into my mother’s room without knocking or it’s as simple as posting a picture on Instagram with a friend and not seeking permission before I do that.
And I think it’s these basic things that we don’t use in our daily lives and we’re not exactly familiar with what the process of consent actually looks like. And I think that is where this whole problem of it not being a priority comes in. And I think also as I mentioned, you know, women’s bodies have been looked upon as a vessel for both for the longest time and you know, that plays a big role in how women view their own body.
I think one of the biggest reasons why it’s not a priority is also because I don’t personally think that I had any education or conversation around consent when I was younger. Growing up, these were not topics that were brought up formally in school in the education system. I think the absence of that in a formal setting is also a reason why it’s not a priority, because, you know, when you’re in school, you’re learning things that are going to shape your personality and shape who you will be in the future. And these are conversations that are brought up at that age when you know, we’re just about learning things, and I don’t think it will ever be a priority in the future.
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Why do you think women are forced to put the needs of men ahead of themselves?
I’ve seen this happen in homes where, you know, we have guests over, my mother will always say, ‘just go and get this or go and get that’ and I have to play the host as opposed to my brother who can also do the same thing. So I think especially in homes where you live in big families and joint families, that responsibility of learning how to run the house or learning how to take care of guests or learning how to play host is always somehow put on the daughter or somehow put on the girl in the family and I’ve never seen that importance being given to you know, my brother or see a younger boy in the house. And I think that itself is ingraining women into believing that okay, it’s our responsibility to look after the house.
Was this one of the reasons why you wanted to work in the space of women’s health. Tell us more about your venture.
So our mission is to bring the soul back to healthcare because I think that’s something that’s missing when it comes to healthcare, it’s also a very daunting experience for a lot of people, especially women because as you know, a lot of feminine health conversations are stigmatised. It’s not as easy for women to talk about menopause and menstruation sexual health. So our entire philosophy is to first educate because I think that there has never been an open conversation on one platform where women can just go to get information about everything that they’re probably scared to speak to their gynaecologist about it. So this is more of a safe space where you’re not judged for talking about sex or talking about menopause because these are normal biological things that we need to be more educated about.
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