Let’s talk about sex
Who did you go to with questions about sex, contraception or abortion? In Nepal, a radio show provides answers.
For many young people, confiding in a family member or friend about sex could be risky, and asking about safe sex, contraception and abortion is scary because of the stigma attached to pre-marital sex. Discussing safe sex also becomes more difficult when you’re battling the widespread beliefs that contraception makes women infertile or young people more promiscuous.
MSI Nepal realized that stigma and myths prevent many young people from asking the questions they want and need answers to. That’s why MSI Nepal works with a national radio show, to talk about sex.
Every Friday night for the past five years, about 2 million listeners across Nepal tune in to Khuldulee.com, a radio show that gives young people a space to anonymously share their questions, concerns and stories about sex, contraception and abortion. MSI Nepal has partnered with the show — which means “Curiosity.com” in English — to provide accurate content for their very popular weekly segments.
Listeners can ask questions through Facebook or call the show to share their thoughts. Host Shikha Sharma discusses everything from contraception to safe abortion, sexual taboos and self-expression, higher education, career development and romantic relationships. This year, 48% of people who called in were younger than 24 years old and 28% were adolescents (between ages 15 and 19). That means that at least 76% of listeners are young people!
Mass media is a great way to reach people with information, especially in societies where seeking information about sex is heavily stigmatized. Unfortunately, President Trump has hindered our efforts to provide access to and disseminate information about contraception and safe abortion worldwide. In a recent Buzzfeed article, Sharma spoke about the censorship she’s experienced as a host under Trump’s Gag Rule.
“One time, a health expert I was interviewing used the word ‘abortion’ while taping a show that would be aired,” she explained. “I had to send the transcript to my bosses and was advised to cut the word out of the final version that aired. Otherwise, I was warned, it would make things difficult for us.”
It’s a shame that the Trump Administration is making it difficult for people to even talk about abortion. But that’s exactly why we talk about it so much — MSI Nepal and Khuldulee.com are examples of the ongoing fight to smash the stigma around safe sex, contraception and abortion.