Improving Access to Information About SRHR
Improving Access to Information About SRHR
When Seema* hit puberty, she saw her body go through a multitude of changes. Her breasts grew bigger, she started menstruating, and she noticed body hair growing in new places. She began to think that she might have a disease. The shame associated with asking questions about one’s body prevented her from doing so, and for a very long time, she thought she was alone. Had she been able to ask these questions, she would have realised that these changes were perfectly normal and happened to nearly everyone.
In a country where young people constitute about 22.8% of the population, there exist very few resources that provide information on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of young people. Even if they exist, the access of young people to the information, especially girls is a big challenge. There is no space at home either to talk about sex and reproduction. Many parents are ashamed and embarrassed to address these questions at home. The policy and legal framework is also quite limiting when it comes to the SRH of young people.
There exists a huge need to break the silence on these issues by providing young people much-needed, simple, clear and accurate information about SRH, in an easily accessible way that is confidential, private, and non-judgmental.
Since its inception in 2000, CREA has been pushing the envelope on issues of sex and sexuality from a feminist perspective. Evidence from our community based programmes working with adolescent girls’ points towards a big need for accurate information related to SRHR. In CREA’s programmes we have been giving them rights-affirming information about their body, rights, choice and consent among other issues. A great demand for this information came from the girls themselves. This led to the realisation that this knowledge needed to reach a much larger cohort of young people who do not have access to this information.
Out of these considerations, Kahi Ankahi Baatein (KAB) (Speaking the Unsaid), the infoline on SRHR was conceptualised. It combined the need to disseminate accurate information on SRHR with the opportunities that Information Communication Technology (ICT) provided. Adoption of ICT was a purposive decision as it maintained accuracy of information, without any distortion, up to the last listener. The infoline is a free for all, round-the-clock service, accessed by dialling 9266292662 from anywhere in India. It works on the interactive voice response system (IVRS). In a simple audio format, the infoline gives out scientifically correct, rights affirming information about SRHR in a 3-4 minute capsule. The infoline contains three channels:
- Abhiyaan channel (Campaign channel): This channel is the dynamic information channel where a promo and an episode based on a theme is released on Tuesdays and Fridays every week respectively.
- Sawaal-Jawaab channel (Question and Answer channel): The second channel on the infoline is dedicated to answering queries of the listeners.
- Jaankaari channel (Information channel): This channel runs content created by TARSHI. This is a more static channel where nine episodes are placed back-to-back. This channel provides accurate information about different issues related to SRH.
A survey is placed after the first episode of every channel. It is composed of 3-4 questions in simple language.
In partnership with Maraa, a Bangalore based media and arts collective, we work with three community radio stations in Delhi NCR and rural Uttar Pradesh to create content. A participatory method is adopted to create content where themes and issues are identified through focused group discussions. The radio stations develop content and air the episodes, following the broadcast, listeners call the infoline to access information and/ or to ask questions. A dedicated obstetrician and gynaecologist responds to the questions recorded on the Q&A channel.
Kahi Ankahi Baatein in Numbers:
- Total number of calls: 47,897
- Unique callers: 8259
- Average call duration: 719 seconds, Or 12 minutes
- The callers:
- > 18 years forms about 44% of the callers.
- 19-25 years forms about 41% of callers were from the age group 19-25
- 25 years and above form 13% of the callers
- Men form 67% of the callers on the info-line
- Women formed 30% callers on the info-line
- Other genders formed 1% of callers on the info-line.
- Approximately 65% of callers on the info-line were unmarried, and the rest of the 35% callers were married.
The use of the infoline demonstrates the wide gulf between men and women in accessing mobile technology in the rural areas. The infoline has been successful in reaching young unmarried population who have lesser access to information about SRH in general.