Anubha Singh is a programme co-ordiantor with CREA that works for women and human rights. Their office is based in New Delhi.
LM: Why is there a need for info line about sexual health in India?
A: Mostly in India, rights based information on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is distributed either through training or associations within the development sector. There are very few services that provide information to the Hindi speaking belts of remote India. CREA wants to ensure that an accessible service is introduced to them.
There are many misconceptions in the minds of young people and rural pockets have marginalised discussions on sexuality. Our aim is to create a safe platform to share questions, suggestions and thoughts about SRHR while engaging with technology.
LM: How does this info line work?
A: This info line is a free of cost service based on IVR (interactive voice response) technology found in mobile phones. It doesn’t require internet or any application to run. The user just needs to give a missed call and can hear three to five minutes informational audio episodes on the call.
Any phone user can leave a missed call on 09266292662 and expect a call back. However, it is not a helpline and live counselling isn’t a part of the project. There are pre-recorded audio sets that play according to user response.
LM: What kind of information do you give out?
A: Our recordings are saved in two separate channels. The campaign channel on the info line includes two new episodes every week. Short audios with expert interviews, testimonials, suggestions and advice are aired every Friday and a drama series on the same topic is presented on Tuesday.
The other user-response-based channel ‘Jaankari’ has static recordings on various sexual health topics. There is also an option to record queries from users. We reserve a special slot in the last segment to respond queries.
LM: What are the core issues you are focusing on through this info line?
A: Every month, we choose a theme for our campaign channel. Last month it was abortion, this month we are discussing panchayat elections. We have decided to bank on most common topics such as misconceptions about masturbation, female masturbation and reproductive organs.
We have also structured an advisory panel for monthly themes and radio content. Advisors from different organisations, including Love Matters, participate in discussions and help generate content. We also have other SRHR organisations like TARSHI, Samarthyam and Gurgaon Ki Awaaz supporting us.
LM: Is this info line a safe and confidential service?
A: Our technology partner, Graamvani, has previously implemented the IVR system successfully where access to data is limited to very few people working on the project. Since the topics we deal with are very sensitive, we make sure that the privacy of our users is ensured. We even club queries according to the theme and address them collectively, instead of addressing it to the specific user.
LM: What are the challenges you face while running this service?
A: The biggest challenge that we face every month is to come up with the right topic. Our advisory panel brainstorms on several ideas. We also collect surveys from users. Then, we move ahead to finalise the theme and content.
Disseminating correct, rights-based information to our users is our next challenge. We craft our episodes in a way that every caller can understand the content. We received more than two thousand calls in the first month. We are looking forward to promoting this service through offline outreach programmes.
If you need information related to sexual health, don’t hesitate to give a missed call on 09266292662. The service runs in Hindi and English.