Homosexuality Is Natural And Consent Is Important, Says Health Ministry's 'Saathiya'

The peer education initiative is a part of the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram.

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While the government continues to maintain its stance regarding issues like Section 377 and marital rape, the Ministry of Health has launched a refreshingly forward-looking programme to promote adolescent welfare.

An initiative under the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK) launched in 2014, Saathiya resource kits are being provided to 1.5 lakh peer educators. These educators- boys and girls aged 15 to 19- will be trained to act as a support mechanism for teenagers regarding various concerns that arise during this crucial age. These peer educators will help adolescents tackle issues related to reproductive health, mental health and substance abuse, among others.

Source: mfmonitor

The Saathiya kit, provided to these educators for the same, contains resource material to assist them. It tells adolescents that attraction, whether for the same sex or the opposite sex, is natural. What is significant in any relationship formed out of this attraction is mutual consent and respect. Reproductive health, safe sex, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases are also discussed.

It also includes a section which debunks gender stereotypes.

“A boy can cry to give vent to his feelings. He can also be soft-spoken or shy. Being rude and insensitive is not a sign of masculinity. It is alright for boys to like things like cooking and designing that are normally associated with girls; adopting the role of the other gender does not mean that he is not male. The same applies for girls who talk too much or like to dress like boys or play games like boys. It is wrong to label such people as ‘sissy’ or ‘tomboy’."

In conjunction with this material, the Ministry has also launched an app, Saathiya Salah, which is available on Google Play Store.

Source: dnaindia

It is aimed at teenagers who are too reticent to bring their queries to someone, or need guidance with an issue they may deem too delicate to discuss.

Health Secretary C K Mishra said, "India is home to 253 million adolescents which is largest in the world in terms of absolute numbers and when RMNCH (Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal & Child & Adolescent Health) programs were launched globally, India was the first country to add the '+A' i.e. adolescent component to the RMNCH, making it today's RMNCH+A program."

He also added, “Adolescents are the critical mass of asset which in future would be the biggest dividends to the country’s economy; thereby their health and wellness are of utmost priority.”

While the decriminalisation of homosexuality still is a long way from materialising, and Indian society at large continues to sweep discussions on sexual and mental health under the carpet, this initiative by the Ministry holds out some hope of progressive policy changes and implementation.

Title image: hindustantimes

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Anagha Wankhede (WRITER)

Potterhead, gourmand, culture junkie, INTJ. Aspires to be Lady Olenna Tyrell. Dreams of getting paid for travelling, eating and watching TV series all day. Presently settled for writing about it.