A few days ago Shri C K Mishra, Secretary, Health and Family Welfare launched the SAATHIYA Resource Kit including ‘Saathiya Salah’ Mobile App for adolescents. One of the key interventions under the programme is introduction of the Peer Educators (Saathiyas) who act as a catalyst for generating demand for the adolescent health services and imparting age appropriate knowledge on key adolescent health issues to their peer groups. In order to equip the Saathiyas in doing so, the Health Ministry has launched the Saathiya Kit (including ‘Saathiya Salah’ Mobile App).
What does it mean to feel attraction for members of the opposite, or same, sex? How does menstruation affect the body? Is masturbation a sinful activity? What does it mean to have safe sex? These are some of the questions that are going to be addressed by these peer educators or Saathiyas.
The resource kit will be distributed under a nationwide health programme for young people called Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK). The kit covers many topics pertaining to issues considered taboo among Indian families.
Some of the convention breaking topics covered in the Saathiya Kit are:
#1 It is fine to have sexual attraction towards members of same sex
The kit not only claims that sexual attraction for members of the opposite sex is a fact of life. But it further claims that similar feelings for members of one’s own sex are just as “normal”. While this advice is progressive and reassuring, it goes completely against the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which condemns any form of sexual intercourse with same sex “against the order of nature”.
#2 Changing the way masculinity and femininity are perceived by young people
Another applaudable approach the Saathiya kit has taken is towards gender stereotyping and changing the ways men and women are perceived due to conditioning since birth. Boys are always nudged to act like boys. While girls are expected to be soft spoken and nice. Labels like sissy and tomboy are hauled if someone deviates from the above script. The Saathiya kit tries it’s level best to remove such stigma from the young minds of our adolescents. The kit says it is ok for a boy to cry!
#3 A No is a No
The Saathiya kit imparts a holistic approach towards sex education, tackling the issue of reproductive health and especially the use of contraceptives. It talks in detail about HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. While giving a complete sex education, the kit also highlights on what a clear consent is and that no means no. Bravo on that!
#4 The Taboo of Menstruation
The kit talks in length about the menstruation cycle and that too with great maturity.
This Saathiya kit just the beginning of a new era! But to make it successful, all of us need to contribute and work towards a healthy India! Kudos to the Government on this laudable initiative!