Indian boys are learning sex education and gender equality via cell phones, thanks to a program by the nonprofit Centre for Health and Social Justice. The program, called Kishor Varta, was introduced to about 250 villages in Bundi district of Rajasthan, the Indian state with the largest gender gap in youth literacy rates and the second highest number of domestic and sexual violence cases, according to a report by Health Education to Villages, a private, non-profit development group. Across the state, child marriages are widespread – the median age at which girls are married is fifteen, and for boys it is nineteen; the legal marriage ages are eighteen and twenty-one respectively.
Discussing sex in Indian culture taboo, making it hard for adolescents to understand the changes in their bodies and become educated about the adult world. The project is set up so that any young boy in Rajasthan with access to a mobile phone can call a line that is set up with an interactive voice response system that allows users to ask questions, listen to relatable stories, and share their experiences. The program has four available stories, ranging from ten to fifteen minutes long. The use of mobile phones gives privacy, mobility and is conducive to listening at one’s own pace. Kishor Varta is a step forward into creating gender equality and awareness in India.
The stories have also directly affected adolescent girls by encouraging them to continue their education, allow for more independence, delay marriages and convince their brothers to take part in domestic chores.
There is not corporate media coverage of this story as of March 5, 2017.
Source: Shaifali Agrawal, “Digital Tools Teaches Indian Boys about Gender Equality” Aljazeera, March 5, 2017, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/01/digital-tool-teaches-indian-boys-gender-equality-170131120007840.html.
Student Researcher: Trohj So (College of Marin)
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