Soonitee Rampersad

 

Soonitee Rampersad


Soonitee Rampersad.jpg

Occupation: Peer Educator on Sexual and Reproductive Health

Location: Goodlands, Mauritius

The Sex in My Business: Using pictures and videos, I try to normalize sex and the human body amongst my peers and younger people through education. I teach them that humans are sexual beings and that it is society that tells us we must behave only in a certain manner according to a predefined set of rules and regulations. Accepting one’s body is an important part of this message. It is crucial with teens to make them aware that everyone’s body is different and they should not be ashamed.

A Typical Day: I start my day by running and having breakfast with my five rescue dogs. Then I check my email, social media accounts and skim the local newspaper before sitting down to watch the BBC news. How the rest of my day unfolds depends on whether I am working from home or going in to volunteer for an NGO, which I do often. Since I am still looking for a full-time job, most of my days I either paint or read articles and books. I also conduct research and create digital presentations on sex-related topics with small videos in one of the local languages or find cartoon pictures so that young teens will not find the information boring. I also try to contact various organizations and other outlets for grants or loans so that I can travel abroad for my postgraduate studies.

The Best Part: I love reading and talking about sex, sexual health, rights, precautions and everything else related to it. I also love doing advocacy among people my age of various backgrounds. Teaching them about their bodies through creative means like videos, pictures and published articles, I try to create a learning environment for them where they are the ones asking the questions and identifying the answers. The reactions I get to these lessons always humble me because I can clearly see the impact they have.

The Worst Part: The reactions most people have here on the island when I tell them I am studying to become a psychologist/sexologist can sometimes be discouraging and disappointing. There are many people here in Goodlands who still do not recognize the importance of sexual health education, even those who are highly educated. I also dislike it when men think it is okay to send me indecent texts or unsolicited pictures of their genitals when they realise my career goals. Their lack of respect and understanding can be really frustrating sometimes.  

How I Got Here: My father made it a point to ensure that I received a comprehensive sex education growing up, which was very unusual at that time. When I began having sex, I realized just how unusual it was. My partners were not very comfortable talking about sex, nor listening to how I wanted to be pleasured. Even doctors and nurses were hesitant to talk about sex with me. Most of my friends have also had similar experiences. As a young adult, there was a weekly article published in the local journal written by a sexologist that I found fascinating, but I still had questions. Thankfully, in university, two of my psychology professors were not uncomfortable with the subject and encouraged me to continue pursuing my interests in sex education and human sexuality. I have since learned that there are several psychologists in Mauritius, but none who are classified as sexologists or sex therapists by a recognised body like the APA, BACP, etc. These realizations encouraged me to pursue a career specialising in this field.

What society thinks: There are some people in my community who still do not believe that sex education is necessary, even though there has been an increase in teenage pregnancy and child sexual abuse in Mauritius. Sadly, some people also still have outdated views (for example, that a woman or girl who wears revealing clothing is more likely to be raped). But mostly, the response to my work has been quite positive. Society is evolving and bringing about a new mindset that is more accepting of people in sex education and related fields. It is slow, but it is happening. And I really appreciate these developments.

When I’m not at Work: Most of the time, when I am not talking with my peers about sex, I am either at the gym, relaxing on the beach, reading, or watching some kind of media (my favorites are cartoons, Korean dramas and comedy films). I also cook a lot when I am not at work, and I like to dance in the kitchen while baking and listening to music. I am a big fan the cellist Santiago Valencia, as well as popular music from the 1980s and 1990s, so usually when I am baking and dancing, these are what I am listening to. I also try to rescue animals whenever I have the time.

  

For more about Soonitee, please follow her on Twitter.