What to expect from Taboo 2020

By Bernadine Rodrigo

Photos Pradeep Dambarage

Taboo, organised by Pulse, is happening today, 1 March 2020. The purpose of Taboo is to address the issues that our society is faced with and try to find solutions to these problems through discussion and mediation.

The whole point of Taboo, as communicated to us by Pulse when we caught up with them at their speakers’ meetup on Thursday (26), is to create a platform where people get to talk about things – anything. They have understood that Sri Lanka has a culture where people usually suppress what they truly feel, which often leads to wounds which cannot be healed easily.

Taboo aims to get rid of this culture and instead provide for one where all people are included and aren’t faced with discrimination. The team at Pulse believes that talking about things is the only way to get a message across and hopes that the platform that Taboo provides will open the doors to this in Sri Lanka. Taboo adopts a progressive outlook on what Sri Lanka should be like, encompassing all the people of this country.

Put simply, they want to make it so that taboos are not taboo in Sri Lankan society, and they are slowly but surely achieving this goal, especially with the aid of the panellists, moderators, and audience members who stand against discrimination and marginalisation.

They also focus on the youths of the country in order to show them the right path, as they are indeed the future of Sri Lanka and the world. They hope that the future generations will be more inclusive and that Sri Lanka sees progress as time goes on.

With these points in mind, Taboo 2020 consists of about 12 panels addressing various issues of today’s Sri Lanka. The day begins with a panel on “Employment for Persons with Different Abilities”, followed by a panel addressing the situation of “Ragging in Sri Lanka”.

Further focusing on the youth of Sri Lanka, the next panel is about “Youth Civil Participation and Storytelling” and features Benislos Thushan from Jaffna, who is the founder of a local campaign enabling the youth of Sri Lanka to create various content through which they can tell their stories via the use of media and digitalisation.

Further topics for the panels will include one specifically on the “Role of Media” when it comes to portraying gender and sexuality, which will be done in conjunction with The Sunday Morning.
Two of Sri Lanka’s favourite media persons, Gehan Blok and Dino Corera, will be part of the panel along with Savithri Rodrigo, Thanuja Jayawardena, and Piumi Fonseka which will be moderated by Charindra Chandrasena of The Sunday Morning.

In addition to these, in order to raise awareness and allow greater opportunities for the youth in Sri Lanka, there will be a panel on “Financing Your Future – Staying Out of Debt” where the Chief Risk Officer (CRO) of the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) will speak, which will be moderated by Tharindi Thalahity. They will be focusing on the best ways to go about investments and how those entering the field of finance can navigate their way through it safely without falling into situations from which they cannot get out of.

There will also be a panel focusing on mental health where experts in the field of psychology will speak.
A panel focusing on sex education will also be held along with one on “Rape Culture in Sri Lanka”. The former panels will try to erase the stigmas affiliated to the topics of sex in our country, while the latter will try to alleviate the shame with which people look at rape victims.

A panel about the lack of women in decision-making roles will be held, which will be moderated by Anuki Premachandra while another panel will discuss coloursim and beauty in Sri Lanka. Here, the issue of how beauty in Sri Lanka is still measured by the colour of an individual’s skin will be explored.
Another panel about “Youth and Politics” is also planned and will focus on how the youth can be more engaged in politics and play an active role in what governs them.

Lastly, a panel on “Adoption and Alternative Parenting” will be held, with panellists form the NGO Leads, where they try their best to advocate for children who have no homes and find them a place to live, be loved, and most importantly, included.