It wouldn’t be a hyperbole to say that today’s youth and digital media are no less than conjoined twins. Hence, what can be better than an online platform to talk about youth-related topics like sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR)? Delhi-based human rights activist Vithika Yadav certainly seemed to think so. And that is how Love Matters, her labour of love and a digital platform that disseminates information regarding SRHR in a shy society like ours, successfully entered its seventh year.
Vithika, who works for Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW), came up with Love Matters in the year 2011 as RNW Media was looking to expand its SRHR portfolio. “That gave me an opportunity to undertake needs assessment in India on young people and their sexual and reproductive health and rights. The findings indicated that young people rely on pornography and conversations with peers to get the crucial SRHR information,” she says. According to Vithika, millions of young Indians aged 18 to 30 have no access to SRHR information that is of utmost significance to them for making informed decisions about their sexual health and well-being.
“There is no comprehensive sexual health education in Indian schools. Schools and parents fear it would give young people the message that it is okay for them to have sex, and the topic remains a taboo. Young people end up relying on inaccurate sources such as friends, television, or porn for information on sexuality. But they need to be informed so as to make the right choices,” she says.
According to Vithika, by harnessing the power of technology, popular culture, and storytelling, Love Matters seeks to bridge the gap between young people, SRHR organisations, and the experts in this field. In India, Love Matters is a bilingual digital platform.
“On a daily basis, we receive about 300 questions from young people on key and intimate SRHR related issues in their lives. Over two million people visit our website every month, taking our overall reach to over 24 million people a year,”
she says. Love Matters is currently available in five languages—English, Hindi, Arabic, Mandarin and Spanish—across many countries.
As Vithika argues, the time has come to open up conversations and do away with repressing sexuality. After all, sexual rights are human rights! www.lovematters.in
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