Vital and thoughtful information on subjects ranging from sexuality to consent has been provided by the Health Ministry through a resource kit called Saathiya.
Being attracted to someone who is of the same sex is perfectly fine and, in fact, normal.
When a girl says no, it means no and has to be respected as such.
A boy who cries is not a “sissy” nor is he weak.
These may be simple concepts but they could prove to be revolutionary as the Health Ministry has introduced resource material geared towards adolescent peer educators that openly and compassionately discusses the importance of consent and homosexuality without demonising anything.
Image for representation. Photo source
As many as 1.65 lakh peer educators will be trained using these pamphlets, so they in turn can impart responsible health education to 26 crore students in India. Health Secretary C K Mishra has noted that this resource kit has been aptly named, Saathiya.
In a report by the Indian Express, Mishra has been quoted as saying, “Despite the expansion of media, there are many unanswered questions in the minds of young people in villages. Saathiya will address these questions. We are also talking about behavioural change and a change in thinking.”
The training has already begun and is being provided by Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK).
In the study material, homosexuality is normalised and the pamphlet also details the importance of contraception; provides information on addiction, smoking and subjects that are otherwise considered taboo in society, such as abortion.
The material also dispels notions of long-held views of masculinity and the need for boys and men to be emotionally distant or “tough.” It states, “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 one of the passages, it puts the spotlight on the importance of consent. It urges young boys to respect and accept it when women deny their advances.
Thoughtful, sensitive and introspective, Saathiya could be the friend young adolescent children need growing up.