The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has recently launched ‘SAATHIYA’ Resource Kit and ‘SAATHIYA SALAH’ mobile app for adolescents as part of the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) programme. And we are nothing but proud of the new initiative. Wondering why?
Here are the top three reasons why-
1. SAME SEX ATTRACTION IS NATURAL:
Well, it took us a moment to take that in.The current government’s stand on homosexuality seems rather unclear. At first, it may seem that it is only a double faced or dichotomic behaviour of the government, but it is anyway a good sign. The material that they launched clearly says the following- “Yes, adolescents frequently fall in love. They can feel attraction for a friend or any individual of the same or opposite sex”.
The government, though has been legally keeping a mum on these issues, is now seeming to try to not be insensitive towards these issues. Kudos!
2. MASCULINITY AND FEMININITY:
The government has gone against its words a lot, only for good this time. It states minor things that boys can cry and that labeling someone as a tomboy or sissy is highly insensitive and should be discouraged. Further, it adds that relationships are “based on mutual consent”. “Boys should understand that when a girl says ‘no’ it means ‘no’”.
Also, it caters to the often less debated gender insensitivity issue by saying that being “rude and insensitive is not a sign of masculinity”. Or that it is “alright for boys to like things like cooking and designing that are normally associated with girls. The same applies for girls who talk too much or like to dress like boys or play games like boys.”
3. GIRLS AND MENSTRUATION:
The material states that girls should be allowed to play outdoors. It also departs from the cultural norms by advocating that adolescent girls should not feel ashamed or guilty of having menstruation. In fact, they should follow their daily routines with a bit of extra nutrition and hygiene during these days.
Breaking more myths they say that – Menstruation is not “unclean” or “polluting”. If managed hygienically, girls can carry out all activities including schooling, outdoor games, cooking, preparing pickles, and perform regular duties with comfort and dignity.
Well, thank goodness, the obvious is now even on paper. That is probably a proud moment for all of us. But not to forget that the government is yet to clarify its legitimacy regarding its clear departure from its legal stand. For example, the law states that rape after marriage is not rape. But also the SAATHIYA material says that relationships are based on mutual consent.
The initiative also caters to the mental health of adolescents, non-communicative diseases and injuries (including gender based violence and domestic violence). Not advocating that everything is done and sealed at the part of the government, but nevertheless it is a good sign ( our dose of optimism for today).
The rest we leave on time and the Health ministry of course to clearly state its stand, in both
paper and law.
The initiative is of utmost importance in our context because India is home to 253 million adolescents. You would be shocked to hear that it is largest in the world. The kit contains an Activity Book, a Bhranti-Kranti Game, a Question-Answer Book and a Peer Educator Diary. The initiative engages peer educators who shall communicate to the subjects everything that concerns their health and well being.
Edited by Mrinaal Datt
Read more about them here.