The idea behind the launch of a bilingual web platform was to look at and address adolescent sexual reproductive health and rights. It was an area that had huge challenges of how to get young people to talk about these issues, how they accessed information, and what they thought, among other things. The bilingual idea came because of the focus on the Hindi-speaking belt. Love Matters was born not because we thought it was a great idea. We conducted research and got adequate evidence to suggest that people want to understand the information they got in context of sex and relationship. They wished to know about sources of information, credibility, gaps, and how they want to assimilate it. A high percentage of young people spoke about accessing pornography and depending on conversations with peers which, of course, resulted in twisted notions around sex and relationships. We realized that they didn’t get the correct information, and it impacted the way they made decisions. In pornography, it is demeaning to see how women are treated. Such understanding trickled down to adolescents in a way that was not being discussed openly.
India doesn’t have comprehensive sexuality education, and the programs are preachy, and look at the issue from largely disease prevention perspective. For instance, they talk about what we should not do because of what may happen. While such information is true, the problems lie somewhere else. Youngsters claim that they not interested in knowing how I will die but how do I aspire to have great sex and relationships. This is why we talk about pleasure-based approach to sex and that’s how we look at the new model around sex education using new media platforms. Our research found that young people would like to access information through mobile phones, computers and laptops. And that’s why Love Matters is a digital initiative.
Of course, Love Matters is the largest brand, not only in the country but worldwide. And we talk about right-based, pleasure-based, honest, non-judgemental, and science-based information that is not boring. This is centered around users’ lives and persuasive storytelling. We are operational on digital and social media platforms. We do combinations of activities. We do radio. We do training for youth advocates and young people as content creators. We focus on how to think about good quality content which is empowering, and without shame and stigma.
(As told to Jeevan Prakash)