SEXUALITY AND YOUR BODY
Your sexuality is not confined to certain parts of your body; your whole body, regardless of your size, shape, colour and weight, is sexual. Check out the facts given below to know more about your body.
Usually an erect penis is anywhere between two and six inches long.
The penis may tilt either to the left or to the right.
The penis is not absolutely straight but curves, especially towards the tip.
The testes usually vary in size, with one being slightly bigger and hanging lower than the other.
Penile size (length and circumference) does not determine the quality of sexual activity or satisfaction of the man or his partner.
Penile size cannot be increased by drugs, creams, oil, or hormones.
Nocturnal emissions or wet dreams are a part of growing up.
Semen is produced continuously in a man’s body from puberty onwards.
Semen is not ‘wasted’ when it comes out during masturbation or sleep; it does not lead to weakness or ill-health.
The size of a woman’s breasts has no bearing on her interest in sex or her ability to receive or give sexual pleasure.
There is usually a slight difference in size between both the breasts.
Perfectly hemispherical breasts are created through surgical and other techniques.
The shape and size of the breasts change with age.
Exercise and massage do not increase the size of the breasts; they strengthen and tone the muscles around the breasts.
Unusual discharge from, or lumps in the breasts need medical attention.
The breasts are sensitive and respond to gentle stimulation; rough handling, squeezing, kneading and so on may not only be a turn-off but may also lead to severe pain for some women.
The vagina has muscular, elastic walls that stretch.
There is no ‘right’ shape that the vaginal opening or lips have.
The size of the clitoris changes with the level of sexual excitement a woman experiences.
A woman does not usually ejaculate like a man on reaching orgasm.
The hymen may break or stretch in the course of running, jumping, cycling or exercising.
The presence or absence of an intact hymen is not an accurate indicator of prior sexual activity.
Using a tampon does not tear/break the hymen.
There is no ‘proof of virginity’ for a woman or a man; hesitation, unwillingness, shyness, pain, bleeding, and so on are not indicative of ‘virginity’.
All women have some amount of vaginal discharge after a certain age. The quantity and consistency of this discharge varies on different days of the menstrual cycle.
This discharge serves to moisten the walls of the vagina and contains ‘good’ or ‘friendly’ bacteria that protect a woman from infection. It is not a good idea to wash or clean the vagina to the point of removing all these secretions because then you will also remove the friendly bacteria.
When a woman is sexually aroused, the vagina gets wet with little droplets of a slippery fluid.
Sometimes, because of an infection, a woman might experience changes in the amount, consistency, smell, or colour of her vaginal discharge. There may also be associated itching, burning or pain. In such cases, it is wise to visit a gynaecologist.
Vaginal infections occur for a variety of reasons including poor genital hygiene, unprotected sexual intercourse, drastic changes in diet, or as a side-effect of certain medication.
MASTURBATION - Oh, What a Feeling…
Masturbation is self-stimulation for sexual pleasure and often begins during childhood.
Both men as well as women masturbate.
It is a legitimate sexual activity in its own right and does not cause weakness, stunted growth, pimples, dark circles, or any psychological or sexual problem.
Masturbation is one of the best safer sex techniques: a way of pleasuring yourself that carries with it no risks of HIV, STDs, or unwanted pregnancy.
Persons who have sexual partners as well as those who do not currently have sexual partners, masturbate. If your partner masturbates it is not a statement about dissatisfaction with you.
Sex therapists believe that if you are able to have a healthy sexual relationship with your own body, chances are that you will enjoy sex with another person more.
Masturbation may be considered a problem only if it is interfering with your day-to-day functioning or is your only stress-relieving mechanism.
Avoid using any sharp or unclean objects while masturbating, and file your nails so as to not hurt the delicate skin of your genitals.
Exhibiting yourself to someone without their consent or to a child (with or without the child’s consent) while masturbating is a violation of that person’s rights.
SAFER SEX - Play it Smart, Play it Safe
A single sexual contact can lead to unwanted pregnancy or infections like HIV(which leads to AIDS) and STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), even if it is the first time for either or both partners.
Washing, douching, urinating immediately after sex, using special positions, antiseptics or creams do not prevent pregnancy or infection.
Regular condom usage provides protection from infection as well as unwanted pregnancy. You can practise using a condom when you masturbate.
Using oil or cream with a condom damages the latex of the condom. Always use a water- based lubricant like KY Jelly, if required.
A few drops of a clear liquid are formed at the tip of the penis much before ejaculation. This is called precum and contains sperm (that can lead to unwanted pregnancy), and, if the man is HIV-infected, also contains the virus. Therefore a condom should be worn as soon as a man has an erection.
Anal sex has a high risk of transmitting infections and is not a method of preventing pregnancy. If you practise anal sex, always use a thick condom and a water-based lubricant.
Unsafe sex (with one or multiple partners) increases the risk of infections like HIV and STDs.
If you have itching, burning, any sores, foul odour, or unusual discharge in your genital area consult a doctor immediately - you may have picked up an infection or an STD. In case of an STD, you and your partner/s need to see an STD specialist for treatment and refrain from sexual activity until completely cured.
HIV does not spread by touching, hugging, kissing, talking, being friends or engaging in casual contact with a person who is infected with the virus or has developed AIDS.
Incase you are thinking of being tested for HIV, first get in touch with a counsellor who will provide you with all the relevant information about HIV and prepare you for the test. There are organisations that have facilities for pre- and post-test counselling and will help you in caring for someone who is infected with the virus. Contact us for more information.
Cuddling, kissing, hugging, dancing, massaging, masturbating (alone or with each other), fantasizing, etc. are safe and very enjoyable!
MENSTRUATION - Body rhythms…
Menstruation (or periods) usually begins at the age of 10-14 years and stops when the woman is around 45-55 years old.
Menstruation usually lasts for about 3-6 days every month.
The time between two consecutive periods is the menstrual cycle and this is different for different women; it usually falls within a range of 21 to 35 days, the average being 28 days long.
Sometimes a woman’s cycle may become irregular; her periods may be delayed or occur earlier than expected because of illness, mental tension, etc.
A missed period is usually one of the first signs of pregnancy in a sexually active woman.
A woman is not ill or dirty because she is having her period. In fact, it is a sign that her body is functioning healthily and well.
Women need to use a clean sanitary towel (pad/ cloth) or tampon to absorb the menstrual blood.
Sanitary towels/ tampons must be changed frequently (at least every six hours) in order to prevent bad odour and infections.
If a cloth is to be reused, it should be washed thoroughly and disinfected in the sun.
While having penetrative sex during menstruation, always use a condom to avoid infection as well as unwanted pregnancy. There is no single day during the menstrual cycle when there are 0% chances of pregnancy.
Sometimes women may have pain or heaviness in the breasts, lower abdomen, lower back and/or thighs before or during their periods. It might help to use a hot water bag and/or gently massage the lower abdomen to ease the discomfort. Gentle exercise like walking and doing routine daily activities is helpful in preventing muscles from becoming constricted and tense.
In case of extreme pain, excessive flow or irregular cycles, please consult a gynaecologist at the earliest in order to avoid complications.
Avoid self-medication to delay or hasten periods.
LESBIANISM, MALE HOMOSEXUALITY AND BISEXUALITY -
All people have a right to live with dignity
Homosexuality is defined not just on the basis of sexual activity but one’s identification, erotic desire and emotional bonding. Women who are sexually attracted to other women are called lesbian; the equivalent term for men is gay. People attracted to both genders are bisexual.
Homosexuality is not a disease. There is no ‘cure’ for homosexuality - it is not an illness. Neither is it something that one will ‘grow out of’. Dragging someone off to a doctor or therapist, scolding or shunning them because of their sexuality is discriminatory and also demeans the person who does it
Homosexuality is not a ‘western concept’
It is not gay men who spread HIV infection; it is risky sexual acts that heterosexual and homosexual individuals engage in that spread the infection
Social prejudice and discrimination lead many lesbians, gays and bisexuals to feel lonely and misunderstood, and bind them in conventions like marriage out of fear of ostracism.
All people, whether they are hetero, homo or bi, have a right to live with dignity and in accordance with their preferences
Lesbian, gay and bisexual people cannot be identified on the basis of mannerisms or physical characteristics. They come in as many different shapes, colors and sizes as do people who are heterosexual
People sometimes wonder 'what causes homosexuality?’ That question is as difficult to answer as 'what causes heterosexuality?' No one knows for sure. Some foolishly suggest that a woman turned lesbian because she had a bad experience with a man, or a man became gay because a woman mistreated him. If this were truly the case, then there should be many more lesbian and gay people.
Most lesbian, gay and bisexual people are comfortable with their own biological sex; they don't wish to belong to the opposite sex and are not transgender (unhappy with and feeling trapped in one's biological sex, wanting to change it)
Those of you who would like to be in touch with some organisations that work to relieve the stresses of gay men and lesbians might wish to contact us for addresses.
Please remember that these organisations do not provide sexual services
VARIETIES OF ABUSIVE SEXUAL BEHAVIOR -
No one asks for it
Rape is any sexual act with a person without her/his consent (or if consent is obtained under duress or deception). Non-penetrative sexual acts with a person without her/his consent are also acts of rape.
Though manifested as a sexual act, rape is usually an expression of violence, anger or power. However, legal definitions (in India) of rape are limiting and don’t take into account marital rape which is coercive sex that occurs within marital contexts.
Sexual Harassment is any unwanted attention or action of a sexual nature that threatens a person’s right to work and live with dignity. Every person has the right to a life free from discrimination, threat and intimidation
Sexual harassment can take many forms: visual, verbal, physical, psychological. Some examples are: unwanted touching, patting, brushing against, leering; unwanted sexual jokes, comments, stories, posters; physical assault; demands for sexual favours under pressure which may be overt or implied (withholding promotions, marks, letters of recommendation, etc.).
Some other common abusive sexual behaviours include:
Exhibitionism: Exposure of genitals to unsuspecting strangers to obtain sexual arousal or gratification, the primary intent being to evoke shock or fear in the ‘victim’
Frotteurism: Behaviour in which sexual arousal results from rubbing one’s genitals against the body of a fully clothed non-consenting person, in crowded situations such as buses, theaters etc.
Obscene Telephone Calls: Behaviour in which sexual excitement results from making obscene telephone calls and ‘talking dirty’
Paedophilia: Behaviour in which the preferred or exclusive method of achieving sexual excitement is by fantasizing about and/or engaging in sexual activity with children. The long-term consequences of such acts on children can be extremely damaging to their mental, emotional and physical well-being
Voyeurism: Here sexual gratification results from watching unsuspecting others engaging in sexual activity or spying on them when they are undressing or nude
It is not true that individuals enjoy or invite abuse, that it happens only to attractive and provocative people and is therefore somehow their fault, that harassment is only mild flirting and those who object are over-reacting…
CONTRACEPTION - Children by choice, not chance
Using contraceptives that are safe and reliable is a sign of responsibility and concern for oneself and one’s partner. There is no ‘safe’ period – a single act of unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy
Condoms prevent unwanted pregnancy and infections like HIV and STDs. Condoms are to be worn every time a man has sex and as soon as he has an erection. Condoms cannot be reused
Make wearing a condom a pleasurable activity – try it while masturbating, get your partner involved, use KY Jelly…
If a woman is on the Pill, she must take it regularly even if she does not have sex everyday. Oral contraceptive pills should be taken after consulting a gynaecologist, because they may not suit some women.
Pessaries are tablets that are inserted into the vaginal opening 10 –15 minutes before intercourse. They absorb moisture and begin to gently foam. The foam produced contains a chemical that destroys the sperm. The chemical effect lasts for half an hour.
IUDs are Intra Uterine Devices that are placed in the uterus by a qualified doctor. They provide effective contraception for three to five years.
A mix of contraceptive methods (eg. Condom + Pessary) is more reliable than using one method alone.
Caps, diaphragms, and female condoms are other methods of contraception but are not easily available here. There are also injectables and implants that are being developed to provide long-lasting contraception but these have many side-effects
People who have had the desired number of children may choose to go in for a more permanent method ie. sterilisation. Vasectomy is a painless and quick procedure for men. Tubectomy is a slightly more complicated procedure for women.
Sometimes, despite using contraception, a woman may find herself pregnant without being equipped or prepared for it. In such a situation she has to decide whether to continue the pregnancy or terminate it. This may be a difficult and painful decision to take.
If a woman decides to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, she can undergo a Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP). MTP is legal in India (up to 5 months) but should be performed only by a qualified doctor. If it is done in the first three months, the risk involved is relatively less. The risk goes up considerably if done in the 4th or 5th month. MTP should not be misused as a method of contraception because it takes its toll on a woman’s health.
The TARSHI helpline: 91-11- 462 2221 and 91-11-462 4441
You can ask us questions, resolve your doubts and share your concerns about any issue that is related to sexuality or reproductive health on the helpline. You can call anytime between Mondays and Fridays from 9am to 5pm. All calls are confidential which means that we respect your feelings and your privacy and do not reveal your concerns to others who call. Also, because we believe that you will be better able to explore your concerns in a safe space, we do not ask you who you are. And because we believe that you are the best person to decide what you should do in your situation, we do not give advice or lectures or solutions. What we do is share with you information that we have and help you reflect on your situation and options so that you find what you are most comfortable doing. So if there's something you want to know or there's something bothering you, call us. We 'specialise' in issues of sexuality and reproductive health, so please don't call us just to chat! And remember that we are a helpline not a sexline or a party line.
The TARSHI helpline is managed by trained and sensitive counsellors and directed by a qualified clinical psychologist.
We started the TARSHI telephone helpline on 14thFebruary, 1996, in New Delhi, India. We have responded to more than 39,000 phone calls from girls and boys and women and men. The people who call us are between the ages of 10 and 70 years and come from different backgrounds.
We especially encourage women of all ages to call.
When was the last time you found a book or written material that gave you information about sexuality in a manner that you could understand and use? And take home? And not spend huge amounts of money on? Most written information about sexuality is either too clinical or too pornographic for most of us to use. Because of this, TARSHI brings out written information on sexuality and reproductive health issues that is easy to understand and apply.
We have recently brought out a set of books for young people written in a simple, lucid and fun manner.
The Red Book (English) and Lal Kitab (Hindi) are for those who are between the ages of 10 and 14 years. The Blue Book (English) and the Neeli Kitab (Hindi) are for those aged 15 years and above.
We also produce leaflets with information about sexuality.
And yes, TARSHI also brings out professional publications on issues of sexuality and reproductive health for professionals working in the field. (link to other page).
Besides these publications we also recommend some informative and useful books written on the following subjects:
Sex and Sexuality and Relationships
Dr. Ruth's Encyclopedia Of Sex
Dr. Ruth Westheimer,1994, Element Books Ltd., U.K.
The book addresses all aspects of sex – from the most basic biological information to psychological, cultural, legal and religious concerns.
Sex: A User's Manual
Diagram Group, 1988, New English Library, U.K.
This is an information guide dealing with every aspect of the sexual experience. The book attempts to dispell fears, myths and misconceptions through the use of simple language and illustrations.
Sex For Dummies
Ruth K. Westheimer,1995, Comdx Computer, N.D., India
The book provides information, no-nonsense tips, advice, techniques, and suggestions for how to find the right partner, how to keep romance alive, how to enjoy sex and how to explore ones own sexuality. The information is presented in clear, concise and easy to read format.
The Hite Report of Female Sexuality
Shere Hite, 1987, Dell, N.Y., USA
The book is an examination of women's perceptions of sex. It deals with topics such as masturbation, orgasm, intercourse, clitoral stimulation, lesbianism, sexual slavery , age, sexual revolution etc.
The Hite Report on Male Sexuality
Shere Hite, 1982, Ballantine Books, N.Y., USA
The book is an examination of men's perception of sex. It deals with topics such as relationships, masturbation, intercourse, the nature of masculanity, woman's orgasm, rape, poronography, domination-submission, homosexuality etc.
The New Male Sexuality
Bernie Zilbergeld, 1992, Bantam Books, N.Y., USA, Rs. 200.
The book addresses questions on enhancing desire and arousal, focussing on pleasure rather than perfomance and keeping sex exciting and fulfilling.
The Joy of Sex
Alex Comfort,1990, Mitchell Beazley, Hong Kong
This illustrated book presents adult sex information in a light-hearted way. The subjects included are sexual techniques, sexual problems, biology of reproduction etc. The book is well illustrated.
Common Sexual Problems And Their Solutions
Dr. Prakash Kothari,1992, UBSPD, N.D., India
A book which deals with sexual problems in easy question and answer form.
On Sex and Human Loving
William Masters, Virginia Johnson and Robert Kolodny, 1986, Jaico Publishing House, Bombay, India
A complete guide on human sexuality, the book addresses topics like biological, psychological and social issues related to sexuality and also sexual problems, and how they can be tackled.
Treat Yourself to Sex
Paul Brown and Carolyn Faulder, 1989, Penguin Group, U.K.
The book deals with a range of sexual problems, and presents exercises as workable solutions.
How to Make Love All The Time
Barbara De Angelis,1987, Dell, USA
The book deals with the subject of giving and getting love in a relationship. It covers topics such as making love work, resolving conflict, sex, love in trouble, secrets for living in love etc.
The Bad Sex Guide and How Not To Do It Handbook
Andrew Moncur,1993, Victor Gollancz, London, U.K.
A fun book telling you how NOT to do it
Beyond the Birds and the Bees
Beverly Engel,1997, Pocket Books Notification, New York
This book address the concerns confronting parents about questions about sex asked by their growing up children.
Tony Pinch,U.K..,1986, Unwin Paperbacks,London, U.K….
The book takes a lighthearted look at various aspects of sexuality. It is mainly in the form of illustrations/comics with a smattering of text as garnishing !
Pat Califia,1991, Alyson Publications, Boston, USA
Califia tackles subjects ranging from the ethics of zoophilia to the etiquette of a holy union ceremony, from interracial relationships to in-law problems. The author has an unorthodox perspective and a wicked sense of humour.
Reproductive and Sexual Health
The Complete Book Of Men's Health
Dr.Sarah Brewer,1995, Thorsons,California, USA
A comprehensive book on men's health on over 300 conditions from acne to erections, from irritable bowl syndrome to herpes.
Women's Health Care
Catherine Fugate, Nancy Fogel and Ingram Woods, Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd., N.D.,India.
The book addresses women's health issues in a sociological context : nursing care, public health, nutrition, exercise, fertility control, and preventive care etc.
Derek Llewellyn-Jones,1993, Penguin,India
The book is an illustrated guide to health and fertility, covering changes from adolescence to menopause, medical, gynaecological facts and personal and social aspects of sexuality.
What Every Woman Should Know About Her Breasts
Dr. Patricia Gilbert,1994, Sudha Publications Pvt. Ltd., N.D., India
The book addresses every aspect of breast care both medical and cosmetic : breast development, choice of bras, breast care after 40, breast cancer - symptoms and treatment.
Our Bodies Ourselves
Angela Philips and Jill Rakusen….
A well-researched book written by women for women, providing details on female body, functioning, sexuality, issues of violence, and sexual preference. The book contains anecdotal and medical information.
Her Healing Heritage...
This book attempts to convey the traditional system of medicine practised, especially by women, in just one sphere - the health of women and children, particularly related to child bearing.
Touch me, Touch-me-not
Shodhini ,1997, Kali for Women, New Delhi
This book is a compilation of research on use of medicinal plants and their use in treating women with RH problems/infections
Na Shariram Nadhi
Sabala and Kranti,1995…
The book addresses the empowering process of women : women's development of skills, self examination, counselling, issues affecting women's health, women and government etc.
The Complete Book Of Men's Health
Dr.Sarah Brewer,1995, Thorsons,California, USA
A comprehensive book on men's health on over 300 conditions from acne to erections, from irritable bowl syndrome to herpes.
Where There Is No Doctor
David Werner,1996, The Hesperian Foundation, California, USA, Free.
A practical guide for village health workers and people where doctors are either not available or easily available; where the difference between life and death may be the use of available resources and nothing more.
Where Women Have No Doctor
1997, The Hesperian Foundation, California, USA, Free.
The book is a comprehensive health guide for women, containing everything that a woman may want to know related to her health.
Women's Health Questions Answered
Pat and Ann Dr. Last and Rushton,1990, Thorsons Publishing Group, Northampton, U.K.…
The book includes a "How healthy are you?" questionnaire. Dealing with topics ranging from puberty to menopause, the book also gives information on subjects such as what women most want to know, family planning and a "whole body" approach to one's health.
Gay and Lebian Issues
Eric Marcus,1992, Harper Collins, New York, USA
The book describes the struggle for gay and lesbian equal rights in the States, from 1945 to 1990. This is certainly not one of those boring history books.
Hidden From History: Reclaiming The Gay and Lesbian Past
Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus, George Jr. Chauncey, 1990, Meridian Books, USA
A book revealing gay and lesbian history, conception of homosexuality and sexuality in a sensitive manner.
The Original Coming Out Stories
Julia Penelope and Susan J.Wolfe (ed.),1995, The Crossing Press, California, USA
The book is a collection of personal narratives about coming-out experience and its significance during four decades of lesbian lives and loving.
Susie Sexpert's Lesbian Sex World
Susie Bright,1990, Cleis Press,USA
An honest look at the sexual and social lives of lesbians - what they really do and not what others think they ought to do. The book is good fun.
Pregnancy and Child Birth
Conceiving Your Baby: How Medicine Can Help
Sally Keeble,1995, Cedar,U.K.
This is a guide for couples considering assisted conception through methods like IVF, GIFT, Egg Donation etc.
The Complete Pregnancy and Baby Book
Vicki Lansky and the Editors of Consumer Guide, Publications International Ltd.,,.
The book provides information on pregnancy, prenatal diet, choosing an obstetrician and paediatrician, giving birth, baby care etc.
Freedom and Choice in Childbirth
Sheila Kitzinger,1988, Penguin,London
The book contains clearly presented information to help understand various choices and make decisions related to pregnancy and birth plans.
Your Natural Pregnancy
Anne Charlish,1995, Boxtree,London, U.K.
This book brings together the latest information on complementay therapies and mainstream medicine to offer you a choice in how you bring your baby into the world. It's time you discovered the "natural" way for a natural phenomenon.
Gender/ Women's Issues
What is Patriarchy ?
Kamala Bhasin,1993, Kali Primaries, N.D., India
The book examines the role of patriarchy and women's subordination in every day life. The information is presented in question and answer form.
Some Questions on Feminism
Kamala Bhasin and Nikhad Said Khan,1986, Kali Primaries, N.D., India
The book explains the concepts about Feminism in easy question and answer form.
The Psychology of The Female Body
Jane M. Ussher,1989, Routledge,London, U.K.
The book deals with issues such as psychology, physiology, social construction of the feminist form, breasts, menstruation, menopause, pregnancy, motherhood. The author is a psychologist, well-versed with feminist thinking. The book draws on research, critiques methodology, and provides anecdotal material.
Fantasies of Femininity
Jane Ussher, 1997, Penguin, U.K.
In this challenging account, the author unravels the contradictory visions of femininity and explores the dominant representations of "woman" and "sex."
The Forbidden Body
Shelly Bovey,1994, Pandora, London
This book looks at issues related to the fact that though being fat is not a sin, majority of overweight women are made to feel otherwise.
Hindu Marriage And Divorce
P.D Mathew and P.M Bakshi,1994, ISI, LE Personal - 1, N.D., India
The book gives information on conditions for Hindu marriage and divorce .
Muslim Marriage and Divorce
P.D Mathew and P.M Bakshi,1989, ISI, LE Personal - 3, N.D., India
The book gives information on conditions, formalities, annulments, divorce, and maintenence of marriage under Muslim Marriage and Divorce act.
Special Marriage Act
P.D Mathew and P.M Bakshi, 1994, ISI, LE Personal - 4, N.D., India
The book provides information on conditions, formalities, annulments, divorce, and maintenence of marriage under special marriage act.
Christian Marriage Act
P.D Mathew and P.M Bakshi,1992, ISI, LE Personal - 5, N.D., India
The book contains information on the provisions of Christian Marriage Act, 1872.
The Law on Rape
P.D Mathew,1995, ISI, LE - 11, N.D., India
The book provides information on various aspects of the present law on sexual offences against women.
The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
P.D Mathew,1995, ISI, LE - 27, N.D., India
The book gives information on the purpose of the act, penalty for giving and receiving dowry, denial of conjugal rights, cruelty to married women etc.
Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986
Seema Midha, 1994, ISI, LE - 28, N.D., India
The book contains information on constitutional provisions regarding immoral traffic, aims of the Act, definition of "prostitution", "child", "minor", "major" etc., penalty for offences, machinery for enforcement etc.
Working Women and Maternity Benefits
E.A. Augustine,1992, ISI, LE - 30, N.D., India
The book contains information on objectives of the act, extent and application, maternity benefit period, medical bonus, nursing breaks, work restrictions, eligibility, death during pregnancy and maternity benefit, dismissal/ discharge during pregnancy, etc.
What You Should Know About F.I.R
P.D Mathew,1994, ISI, LE - 39, N.D., India
This book includes chapters such as: What is F.I.R, who can lodge one, where to write an F.I.R, signing of the F.I.R, report and counter report, how to prove F.I.R, specimen forms etc.
Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act
P.D Mathew,1995, ISI, LE - 42, N.D., India
The chapters included in this book are: applications of the Act, definitions, prohibition of advertisements containing indecent representation of women, prohibition of publication/sending by post of books, pamphlets etc., powers to enter and search, penalty, offences by companies, offences to be cognizable and bailable, protection of action taken in good faith, power to make rules, etc.
The AIDS Handbook
John Hubley, Shankar Choudhury and V.Chandramouli,1995, Focus Books, India.
The book presents clear information on the virus, symptoms and transmission, prevention and an action plan for AIDS education. The handbook is aimed at AIDS workers and the layperson .
AIDS: The Women
Ines Rieder and Patricia Ruppelt (Eds.), 1988, Cleis Press, San Fransisco, Pittsburgh
This book is a collection of experiences of women whose lives have been touched by AIDS.
AIDS And Men
Martin Foreman (Ed.), 1999, Panos/ Zed Books, London
The book examines different aspects of the relationship between men's actions and AIDS world-wide, the impact of those actions on men and women and initiatives designed to help men protect themselves and their partners.
Violence and Abuse
The Courage to Heal, A Guide for Women Survivors of CSA
Ellen Bass and Laura Davis,1988, Cedar,U.K.…
The book is for women who have been abused as children. It addresses various issues including the effects of abuse, the ways women cope over time, insights and strategies for partners, family members and counsellors etc.
Beginning To Heal
Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, 1993, Cedar, U.K
This is a first guide for all women just beginning to recover from child sexual abuse. It takes the reader through the key stages in the healing journey, from remembering and crisis times, to breaking the silence, grief, and anger, to resolution and moving on.
Defending Our Lives
The book is a guide for women seeking to get away from domestic violence and staying safe
We document information on sexuality and our experiences on the helpline.All calls are confidential and anonymous and we take every precaution to preserve the anonymity and confidentiality of our callers. Documentation is important to help us maintain high quality of services as well as to influence others in the field of sexuality and reproductive health so that they may keep real people's concerns in mind while developing and implementing programmes.
Some of the papers written/presented by TARSHI are given below:
Sexual Risk Behaviour in the Context of HIV/AIDS in India
This paper discusses sexuality and the range of sexual behaviour as it is enacted in India. There is a growing multiplicity of sexual scenarios, frequently attributed to the wave of 'modernization' that is sweeping the country. However, the change in sexual behaviour is not always accompanied by a concomitant change in knowledge and attitudes. The split is most obvious in relation to gender. The beliefs and misconceptions that abound and the impact of these on sexual behaviour are examined specifically in the context of HIV/AIDS.
Finally, the paper looks at how culture and social expectations influence not only the way in which risk reduction interventions are created but also the manner in which they are interpreted.
Click here to read the paper
Talking About Sex
The paper presents a study of the sexual behaviour, habits, and preferences of Indian women, men and children. The study is an analysis of the experiences that we have had while coordinatng the TARSHI telephone helpline.
This paper is a substantially revised and updated version of an article with the same title, which appeared in Indian Psychologist, December 1996.
Click here to read the paper
Rights and Ethics in Interventions, Experiences and Research in the field of Sexuality, Paper presented by Radhika Chandiramani at the International Seminar In Reproductive Health and Sexuality, Mexico City, November 18-20, 1996.
Sexual Risk Behaviour In the Context Of HIV/AIDS in India, paper presented at the Satellite Workshop entitled 'A Fresh Look at Sexuality and HIV/AIDS in the Asia Pacific Region' on October 26, 1997 during the 4thInternational Congress On AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, Manila, Philippines.
Men On the Line, Paper presented by Radhika Chandiramani at the Population Council meeting on 'Men As Supportive Partners in Reproductive and Sexual Health', Kathmandu, June 23-26, 1998.
Talking About Sex, Radhika Chandiramani in 'Reproductive Health Matters', Vol.6, No.12, November 1998.
Perceptions of Adolescents Regarding Human Sexuality, paper presented by Shalini at the Seminar on the Role of Voluntary Agencies in Mobilising Adolescents in Reproductive and Child Health Programmes, New Delhi, India, July 11, 1998.
Hearing the Unsaid, paper presented by Shalini at the 'International Conference on Preventing Violence, Caring for Survivors: Role of Health Profession and Services in Preventing Violence', Mumbai, India, November 28-30, 1998.
Helpline Counselling In Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues, paper written by Sunita Kujur for the 1999 Beijing International Seminar on Hotline Counselling, April 4-6 1999.
The Road Less Travelled, Radhika Chandiramani, a chapter on Sexuality for a book on HIV/AIDS. To be Published.
Basic Instincts, Dangerous Assumptions, Risky Liasons, Poster presentation at the 5th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, October 23-27, 1999.
Midlife Crisis Column by Radhika Chandiramani : A fortnightly advice column on sexual and reproductive health for a national newspaper, The Asian Age since April 1999
TARSHI has always voiced its opinion on issues such as sexuality
education, sexual harassment, rape, incest, relationships etc. We have been
featured in the print media for spreading the message that everybody has "the
right to sexual well-being, to a healthy, enjoyable and self-affirming
Given below are excerpts from articles published in various leading magazines and newspapers.
Let's talk about sex
TARSHI, a Delhi-based helpline on sexuality, is a valuable source of information for teenagers
Financial Express, February 27, 2000
Adolescence may not be as innocent for the millennium youngster as it was a generation back. But doubts on sexual health and sexuality are still widely prevalent. On the other hand, earlier exposure to smut on the television and other media, has created more question marks in the adolescent mind.
According to data with Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Diseases (TARSHI), a sexual health helpline based in the capital, the primary sources of information on sexuality for most teenagers remain friends, jokes, blue films and, very rarely, parents and teachers. It is in this background that telephone helplines that provide young people a safe space to talk freely about matters they may never have discussed with anyone else, become important.
There are many helplines addressing issues related to sexual health in Delhi. You have the NAZ Foundation focussing on HIV/AIDS, Sakshi counselling abused women, and Rahi … to name a few.
But dispelling doubts about sexuality in the minds of teenagers is TARSHI's USP. The idea is to enable women and men to enjoy a life of dignity, free from fear and infection, says its founder Radhika Chandiramani. "We began in 1996 with the aim to address sexual and reproductive health issues in a non-judgemental manner. Through telephone counselling, we want to help callers do what they want with their bodies and lives," says Chandiramani.
The TARSHI helpline was set up with the help of an individual fellowship by the MacArthur foundation, which Chandiramani won. The NGO is also supported by the Ford Foundation that has extended a grant that will help them expand their activities in the country.
The helpline targets people of all ages, classes and sexual preferences, especially women. "But it is men who are more curious about sexual matters and form the majority (about 80 per cent of the calls). A big chunk of the calls come from people aged 18-25. But we cater to anybody from seven to 70," she adds.
Its two phone lines at 462 2221 and 462 4441 operate from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, providing information, counselling and referrals in Hindi and English. "We provide accurate information in simple terms without asking for the name of the caller. But we do allot them a code name for their convenience. It helps avoid a repeat narration of their problem and the embarrassment it causes, if they call up again," explains Chandiramani.
Explaining why TARSHI focuses on sexuality, when other helplines address more than one issue at a time, Chandiramani says reproductive and sexual health decisions can't be isolated from sexuality. "Sexual and reproductive behaviours emerge from and have an impact upon life contexts. Also, gender-based inequalities in society affect the choices available to and those made by individuals," she says.
The backbone of the helpline is a team of four trained women counsellors. "All of them have undergone in-house training for about six weeks. Following the training, all the calls they take are supervised for four weeks, until they have demonstrated their ability to handle calls well. This is necessary as the subject is very sensitive," says Chandiramani.
The tone of the respondent and her first reaction to a call are very important, says Chandiramani. For instance, "If a 14 year old calls up and puts up a query on masturbation or kissing, the stress should be on making him or her comfortable and never expressing shock," she explains.
The NGO does not rely solely on the helpline to spread awareness on sexuality. Chandiramani writes a column in The Asian Age on it and they distribute succinct, simple booklets that discuss sexuality. "We have divided them into two age groups. The '10-14 years' booklet help teenagers understand body basics and the '15-19 years' one elaborates on these," she says.
Every call taken is documented to enable continuity and to analyse the documentation for emerging trends. "The level of ignorance on sexual matters is high in our society, we are trying to correct this picture," says Chandiramani.
Still a dirty word
The Hindu, December 6, 1998
...Says Prabha Narang of TARSHI which runs a helpline, "We believe that it is not sex education but sexuality education that is important. How one looks at one's body is crucial and if children are asking it means that they are ready for the answer. Just how to frame that answer depends on the age and the situation." Though Narang and her colleagues have been conducting a few lectures and workshops at some of Delhi's schools, she is quick to point out that the staff needs to be much more comfortable with the subject. The same would go for parents. According to Narang children from class seven and eight tend to ask some very basic questions ranging from birth of babies to AIDS. "In one school when we showed the children condoms and explained to them what they were for the school staff were shocked. They thought we had transgressed the limits," says Narang.
...While the government has been toying with the idea of including sex education in school curriculum they have done little about it. Again there is an attempt to camouflage. The topic, if introduced, will be done under the title Family Life. Laughs Narang: "It sounds a bit off. We have learnt from our experiences that the more you shy away from discussions on sexuality and related topics, the more the sense of urgency in the children to find out."
Everything you need to know but are afraid to ask
The Times of India, April 26, 1996
Another phone helpline offering information, counselling and referral service for reproductive and health related issues. Tarshi, set up in February this year, claims to have received over a 1000 calls after it advertised on radio last month. Tarshi director and fellow, MacArthur Foundation Radhika Chandiramani who initiated it, says that a small section of callers do try to misuse the service as a sexline or for making crank calls.
Talking about the alarmingly low levels of knowledge about AIDS among youth, Radhika says "At least 3-4 calls each day are from young men who say they cannot contact AIDS by having sex with commercial sex workers for the first few times. We have to explain that it is absolutely wrong." A large number of callers who are just-married or have recently become sexually active have expressed anxiousness about their performance and satisfaction levels of their spouse.
Radhika, who is also a practicing therapist, says that counselling on the phone is effective only as help between the caller and the counsellor and not as therapy. It also helps callers to deal with trauma and complexes.
...Helplines such as Tarshi also take extra care while dealing with very young callers. "There are 7 and 8-year-old kids who ask us to play songs because they heard the helpline ad on the radio and know nothing about the service. There are others who are just curious about something and fake their age to get the information ," says Radhika.
More sex please, we're Indians
The Times of India, July 19, 1998
What made the sexual marketplace happen? What accounts for the switch in a people labelled "conservative-restrained" to "sensation-seeking"?
"It was always there - what's new is that more of such reports are finding their way into the media," says Radhika Chandiramani, who runs a sex-related helpline TARSHI. Since the helpline has been in existence in the Capital, there have been a number of calls relating to group and experimental sex. Most of these, she says, are from men.
...Against this backdrop, what comes as a surprise is the fact that women are now actively looking for avenues to satisfy their own needs - opting for gigolos, escorts and male masseur services. "They seek pleasure, because they feel it is rightfully theirs," says Chandiramani.
Emerging From The Chrysalis
New Woman, February 2000
"Sexuality is not confined only to well demarcated areas of people's lives, it permeates and impacts on who we are and how we are with ourselves and others. In turn, how we construct sexuality impacts our lives," says Radhika Chandiramani, who runs a sex-related helpline TARSHI (Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues), in the capital.
"People do not talk about sexuality and there is very little access to information. If you go to any book-shop, you either get porno rubbish or very judgmental books on sex in marriage or sleek glossies which cost Rs 1000 onwards. The explicit photographs make people uncomfortable about carrying it home so the end result is a quick glance and placing it surreptitiously back where they found it. As a result, there are a lot of myths surrounding sex," says Chandiramani.
"More than 20 per cent of those who call on TARSHI help-line are between the ages of 10 and 19," says Chandiramani. Their largest concerns are basic information on sex - the size and shape of the genitalia, masturbation, nocturnal emission, sexual problems like premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction or relationship problems like how far to go in a relationship. "What is very striking in the thousands of calls we have attended, is how little men know about their bodies and even less about women's bodies."
City gays seek advice on 'going public'
Indian Express, March 7, 1997
..."Many of the callers want to know how to go about disclosing their homosexuality to their family," says Radhika Chandiramani, a clinical psychologist with TARSHI, a helpline for 'Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues'.
"We advise them to think carefully before 'going public'; we have to understand society's deep-rooted prejudices and though an individual may have learnt to come to terms with his/her homosexuality, their near and dear ones may not be able to do so," she pointed out.
... "Things have changed but they haven't improved. Especially sub-standard are the 'agony aunt' columns, totally insensitive and frivolous. Not only do they sensationalise the issues, they are often disrespectful," said Radhika.