Hidden Pockets ( www.hidden-pockets.com) is “Community Interest Startup” talking about cities and health. A referral platform on sexual and reproductive health in India which connects young people to service providers.
India is a youth led country, but still when there is any conversation around sexual and reproductive rights, we often hear silence around these topics. Be it Coimbatore, Panjim, Kohima or Srinagar, young people in different cities often feel let down and are often scared to approach any service provider.
This is where a women run start up based out of Bangalore, makes this ordeal a little less scary. Hidden Pockets is running a platform where they connect young people to doctors, lawyers and counsellors. They answer queries about abortion, HIV, PCOS or any health issue.
Why was there a need for such a platform in the first place? The Founder, Jasmine George felt that post Nirbhaya case in Delhi all the conversations were around safety and putting CCTV cameras in the city. Nobody asked women, what they wanted! There are so many cases of women dying due to unsafe abortions, they are so young people living with HIV, so many people who are suffering with various ailments due to discrimination faced due to their sexuality, why are we not talking about these issues?
A lot of young people are sexually active, and they don’t have access to good, quality, affordable health service. Why did nobody ask for better services?
The silence around sexual and reproductive health services also reflects another sad reality of Indian lives. Sex is a taboo, everybody around is engaging in it, but we don’t know where to go if anything goes wrong. Sexuality is a personal issue and that’s why when there is an issue or crisis there seems to be utter chaos.
Hidden Pockets is running a WhatsApp number ( 8861713567) as part of their referral platform. At this number, a counsellor answers a young person if they have any queries, counsels them and then connect them to a service provider be it a lawyer, doctor or a therapist. We explain the options and choices young people have, before visiting a service provider. Due to misconceptions and myths around sexuality, people often think abortion is illegal, or HIV testing is not allowed.
The Executive Director, Aisha George, who is also a counsellor shares that often it is young men who come to our platform asking for our services for their partners. She feels that it is a great opportunity for us to educate young men to take care of their partners and at the same time create spaces that are safe and confidential.
For instance, we’re doing this #MakeYourCityInclusive campaign, where we’re actually going and asking women from different cities. Women are telling us which public place they would like to go.
We also have an ongoing campaign around reproductive health where women of different ages are writing to us and talking about issues as varied as periods, endometriosis, PCOS and reproductive health.
Hidden Pockets aims to make our cities more inclusive for health. They hope to ensure that issues around sexual and reproductive health should not be hidden. Every pocket of a city should be accessible to young people and they should be able to live a fruitful life.