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Home / India News / 2007 / February / February 20, 2007
Voices from the Street: Street Comics for Young Men on Sexuality and HIV by Population Council and Apnalaya

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Voices from the Street: Street Comics for Young Men on Sexuality and HIV by Population Council and Apnalaya

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Voices from the Street: Street Comics for Young Men on Sexuality and HIV by Population Council and Apnalaya

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

A series of Street Comics to promote responsible sexual behaviour among young men of India was launched by Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar at a press conference today. A joint endeavour of Population Council, Apnalaya (Mumbai), Divya Disha (Hyderabad), Prerana (Delhi) and CINI Asha (Kolkata), these street comics: Josh Mein Hosh, Khoon Ka Khatra, Savdhaan Senior and Pyaar Ka Packet are real stories shared by young men from slums, streets, platforms and tea-shops in the four cities and adapted to communicate HIV prevention messages.

Releasing the first series in Hindi, master blaster Sachin Tendulkar said, "I am glad that the Population Council along with Apnalaya and other such organizations across India have attempted to fill this gap in the information needs of young people, particularly those of young men in urban slums. This series of street comics that combine real stories with HIV facts cannot fail to grab young men's attention.

The young men in our country today want to be acknowledged as 'real men' - and being a real man means that you have be responsible, safe and ultimately respect your loved ones. I am sure all the young men will read these comics and that the comics will convince young men to adopt safer behaviour patterns. This will ensure a safe future not just for young men but also their loved ones".

Speaking at the occasion, Project Director and Communication Strategist from the Population Council, Vijaya Nidadavolu said, "About one in five persons in India is young, between 15 and 24 years of age. While there are great expectations from this age group there are also great fears of the possible vulnerability of this age group in acquiring HIV infection. HIV infection is spreading rapidly among the young in India. Meanwhile a cultural reluctance to talk about sexuality coupled with a lack of effort to reach young people with information on HIV has ensured that they remain in the dark.

Young men in urban slums in India are particularly open to infection because they engage in risky behaviours in the name of mardangi. Population Council research has shown that young men believe it is cool to be violent, that condoms must be worn only with sex workers and not with regular partners, that regular girlfriends must be meek and submissive, that a sexually aggressive woman is a 'bad' woman and that it is alright to control women. These notions of mardangi result in young men being abusive with sexual partners, viewing women as objects, engaging in risky sex, not wearing condoms with regular partners, viewing sex as performance and engaging in other risky behaviours such as injecting drug use. These risky patterns combine to make young men and their sexual partners highly vulnerable to HIV infection. Population Council research also shows that there is a need for information campaigns for young men in urban India with messages on HIV that speak to them, that are rooted in their reality and that will entertain while educating them. The comics have been designed keeping young men's realities in mind, using the dominant norm of mardangi and proposing an alternative to the norm - of a "real man" that is caring, supportive and responsible. It is hoped that these street comics- as a communication package will contribute to the construct of a new masculinity and ultimately prevent HIV infection. The comics are also an intimate media tool as they give young men an opportunity to read/look at them in private."

Continuing further, Ms. Vijaya Nidadavolu shared that the State and District AIDS Control Societies and other NGOs working with young people in each of these four cities have been approached and invited to adapt and use the comics. "We hope that the comics will develop a life of their own and fit in with programmatic needs of different organisations all over the country. In addition, the comics will encourage young men to engage in safer sexual practices and tell their peer group that 'safety is first'. While the Council is distributing over 2.5 lakh comics in the four cities, it is hoped that this unique initiative will be endorsed by the respective Societies so that its reach multiplies manifold. The Council is holding dissemination meetings at the national and state levels and extends an open invitation to organizations keen to use this resource within their own programmes. This will be a small but significant effort to build a safer, bolder and brighter future for India"

This set of four comics will be widely distributed in Hindi, Telugu, Bengali and Urdu in the four cities. A limited edition is English is also available.

About Population Council

The Population Council is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organisation that seeks to improve the well-being and reproductive health of current and future generations around the world and to help achieve a humane, equitable and sustainable balance between people and resources. Population Council has been funded by the British Department for International Development for this initiative.

About Project Partners

Apnalaya (Mumbai)

Apnalaya is a non-government, non-profit organisation involved in urban community development in the city of Mumbai. Twenty-five years ago, Apnalaya started with a day-care centre for the children of hutment dwellers at Nariman Point. It now has 9 centres -- in Tardeo, Govandi, Mankhurd and Malad -- and has widened its focus to a variety of need-based activities. Apnalaya is actively involved in pre-school and non-formal education, vocational training and guidance, recreational activities, formation and sustenance of youth and women's organisations and community health.

Prerana (Delhi)

Prerana aims to be a professional development organisation with a high emphasis on programme innovation, learning and sharing of approaches and replicating models in integrated community development. They are committed to enhancing the quality of life of individuals and groups through self-help and the approaches adopted include direct service intervention, technical assistance and training, advocacy and research and documentation. It works on livelihood issues, population, reproductive health, education, gender and has a rights based approach, with children, young people and women in particular.

Divya Disha (Hyderabad)

Divya Disha is a voluntary organization working towards the empowerment of children and youth. Based in Hyderabad, Divya Disha works towards rehabilitation of youth and children on the streets, provision of primary education to children in slums, campaigning for the rights of children in schools, motivation of domestic child workers towards education.

CINI Asha (Kolkata)

CINI Asha is the urban unit of Child in Need Institute (CINI). CINI is a non-governmental organization founded in 1974 by Dr. S. N. Chaudhuri, a paediatrician. CINI mainly focuses on improving children's health in the rural areas of West Bengal. CINI Asha was established in 1989 with a mission "To improve the quality of life of the socially disadvantaged children living in the urban areas through education, health and social mobilisation." CINI Asha works to bring children abandoned on the streets, slum dwellers, children of sex workers and child labourers into school and to provide jobs for these children after graduating from school. In addition, CINI Asha works towards spreading awareness of the problems and issues facing street children among the middle class urban population, and also increase awareness of violence towards girls and women, and the dangers of HIV and AIDS.

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Vijaya Nidadavolu, Project Director and Communication Strategist, Population Council, + 91 9811355126 vnidadavolu@popcouncil.org

Anjana Anand, IPAN, +91 (022) 4066 1755 anjana.anand@ipan.com

Source: Population Council (Business Wire India)

Press release presented here is sourced from the Source mentioned above and is provided on as-is basis. Please contact the Company / Source directly for any further information in regard to this release. This website will be unable to assist you in regard to the accuracy or correctness of information in this release.

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