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Indian Express
27 October 2010
By Shruti Nambiar

Safe Empowerment
Awareness about contraception options is essential for every woman to seek out and apply NEGOTIATING contraception has never been easy for Indian women, especially in the rural areas. With the 2010 count pegging the national popula tion at 1.15 billion, family planning and accessible contraception begs to be an oftdiscussed issue in the social psyche.

September 26 was observed around the world as World Contraceptive Day (WCD). WCD is supported by a coalition of 10 international NGOs, scientific and medical societies. The focus of this observance is the dissemination of safe sexual behavioural habits and tools to initiate contraception.

Of late, teen pregnancies have cropped up with disturbing regularity in the media. Even in relatively morally liberal countries, teenage pregnancy is a cumbersome reality to deal with, if not exactly a stigma. In conservative India, where young, single mothers are balked at, know–how of safe sex needs to percolate deeper into the youth strata of society. Nisha Sathe (name changed) is a 19–year–old student. "I have been in a relationship for the past two years.

My friends and I often have discussions about physical relationships and the precautions to be taken. It’s easier this way. Talking to my parents freaks me out!" admits she. Various contraceptive options are available today.

Apart from the most–advertised mediums of condoms and birth control pills, various intra–uterine devices are available in the market.

"Most of what I know has come from books and magazines. I have never had 'the talk’ with my parents. I feel the generation gap is such that it’s difficult for them to communicate such issues effectively.

And our culture doesn’t promote openness either. It’s a dangerous line that the Indian youth walks," says Nidhi Vaz, a marketing professional.

Though India is slowly but surely changing for the better, exposure and right information on sexual matter are still best solved when discussed with experts. The confidentiality that such sessions promise can open cans of discomfort amongst the youngsters. The rural areas too are facing up to the fact, but not adequately yet.

The central problem there is of family planning and not specifically safe intercourse. "Many women in the interiors are aware, and there are people working towards improving the situation. But a large chunk still shies away from approaching the idea. Having a son still rules the idea of parenthood here. We need to persuade and chase them. Ultimately though the onus is on them," says Charu Singh, an NGO volunteer.

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