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VISION hosts Poster Exhibition to Deconstruct Stigma & Marginalization

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For One Day One Struggle 2015, VISION is organizing a poster exhibit on sexuality rights in Pakistan,VISION-PK focusing on personal reflection and self-discovery as a starting point to deconstruct stigma and discrimination.

For VISION, this is a continuation of long-standing programming on sexual and gender diversity that began in the late ’90s, with outreach to hijra communities in Pakistan. Today their efforts are focusing on building solidarity and connections with a wider circle of women’s rights and development sector groups in Pakistan to take up the issue of sexuality and gender identity.

Tahir Khilji shared with us thebackground to the event:

“For One Day One Struggle, we are planning is a poster exhibit, and these posters are coming from photographs that we took at a workshop with partner organizations on a larger project on gender and sexual identity. That workshop brought together women’s organizations, development organizations, and more mainstream civil society groups in Pakistan. For many of them, this was the first time they were talking about the diversity that exists within sexuality and the sexual rights framework. It was very interesting to have them there for three days.

odos-csbr-2With everyone’s permission, we documented participants’ expressions as we worked through the activities over the three days. For example, photos from when we talked about labelling, when we talked about stigma and how it impacts people; when we started exploring sexuality and how on the basis of diversity within sexuality people are discriminated against; the feelings of isolation, of rejection that all of us at some point in our lives have felt. You know for one reason or another, we have all been isolated. And it may not because of our sexuality at all, but each person would reflect on those experiences of marginalization, and its those reflective moments that have been captured in these photos.”

For VISION, the journey of self-discovery is a means of self-empowerment and self-actualization. Its a journey critical to breaking down social barriers, especially when it comes to sexual and bodily rights. The method focuses on getting participants to a shared starting point, and from that common ground moving the conversations into exploring and articulating what underlies prejudices and openness.

“When we moved onto the reflective journey and talking about our own experiences and perspectives on sexualities, we began by looking at friendships. You know, exploring what we think of different forms of intimacy, what’s ‘too close’, what is not, and why. And its those questions that form the captions of the posters. … And for some participants they shared with us after the workshop that it was really eye opening. That this was the first time for some women to really unpack what it means to have control over one’s body.

So with this event we want to display the posters as a canvas, and say “Hey, Look at this canvas; what we think it says is that when you discover yourself, then you become very empowered and you discover others also. You begin to understand other people’s perspective as well. So may it be about sexual rights, or other rights, but the goal is that you stop saying ‘This is bad, because this person is of a different orientation, or has made a different choice’. That judgement point comes down. And that’s the goal.”

The #OneDayOneStruggle event will bring together stakeholders from the development sector, rights activists, media and academics to view the poster exhibit, and join a panel and discussion reflecting on the methodology as a tool for sensitisation and advocacy on sexuality and gender identity and expression. For more information about the event, get in touch with us at coordinator@csbronline.org.

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