Where to look for Sexual and reproductive health aid in Bangalore?

If you are unable to find the service, please do write to us.

Write to us at hiddenpocketsinfo@gmail.com
Call us at +918861713567

Namma Bangaluru!!!!! Namma young people staying in Bangalore!!!! Have you ever heard about Family Planning Association of India – Bangalore??
And why should you know about them? So let me introduce you to FPAI.

As you would have already noticed that FPAI stands for Family Planning Association of India. FPA India envisages sexual and reproductive health for all as a human right, including gender equality leading to alleviation of poverty, population stabilization and sustainable development. They have their presence in
Delhi, Ahmadabad, Chennai, Lucknow, Agra, Bangalore, Mumbai and few more places.To know more about them you can visit their website: www.fpaindia.org

So where do you go if you are looking for Sexual and reproductive health aid in Bangalore?
Private hospitals? Clinics? Nowhere? For those who are still struggling, for those who are suffering cause they dont know where to go, for those who have suffered a lot because of judgmental comments by the service provider, high prices, let me introduce you to FPAI – Bangalore. A place where you wont be judged. A place where you would feel safe. A place where services are affordable and a place where proper guidance and counselling would be given for Sexual and reproductive health.

The clinic is situated at City Corporation Maternity Home Complex, 1st Floor, Palace Guttahalli (Guttahalli circle), BANGALORE – 560 003. For those who have no
clue about this place, let me tell you it is very close to Le Meridien Hotel and Bangalore Golf club, Sankey Road. As you reach the complex’s gate, you would see the FPAI board
on the left side of the building. On the first floor you would find the Admin team of FPAI – Bangalore. From the gate if you walk towards the right, you would see a path on your left which would take you to the clinic (currently which is under maintenance now; till it is ready one can visit the doctor on the first floor)
The clinic operates from 9 am -5 pm.

So what is the procedure followed by FPAI – Bangalore?

– The first thing is Registration: Here the person would be asked the reason for coming to FPAI. Is for MTP (Medical Termination of Pregnancy) in other words safe abortion
or sterlization.
– Then the person is sent to the counselor where the counselor discusses what all happened and what can be done. Privacy is given utmost importance.
– Then the person is provided with consultation. It is checked whether the person is on her first trimester or second. Then she is provided with proper guidance on what
she is required to do.
– During the medication, if the person is asked to take abortion pill, she is provided with proper guidelines on how to consume them. And if minor operation is required
the she is guided accordingly. FPAI – Bangalore currently has 10 beds and one minor operation theater. And the clinic is very clean.
– One week later a follow up is done, where the person is asked to come back. This is done so as to check whether the pregnancy is completely terminated and the
person is safe.

FPAI – Bangalore also gives a counselling about Family Planning Methods. They also provide people with free contraceptives for example free condoms.
Apart from MTP, FPAI also does HIV testing, Cervical cancer test (compulsory for women above 30 years), Vasectomy, tubectomy and test for breast cancer.
The tests are done after the consent of the patient only. All the tests are done in the Laboratory.

FPAI Bangalore also has Adolescent health clinic and also does Male sterilization.

FPAI follows no refusal policy, this means nobody is refused or sent back without providing medical services and help.
Privacy and confidentiality is the most important aspect that FPAI follows.Whoever comes to the clinic needs to just register with one’s name.
This is required, to keep a count of the patients. It is not for public to examine. Let it be a married women or unmarried women, the information of the patient is
kept highly confidential. Nobody asks the patient uncomfortable questions like are you married or not? Where is the husband?
Everybody is treated with dignity at FPAI.

Namma bangaluru, I found FPAI – Bangalore very friendly and approachable. If required, kindly try utilizing this clinic. It’s friendly, non-judgmental, safe, clean and affordable.
The whole facility would cost around 500 INR. Kindly utilize this amazing clinic. Try it out and refer it to the ladies around.
Let us all promote safe abortion and health care around us.

PS:  “FPA India clinics may charge, what we prefer to call as a ‘partial user fee’ to the clients for seeking abortion or any other SRH service. This fee is very subsidized and helps the Association meet some running costs. However, all FPA India clinics also have a “NO REFUSAL POLICY”, which states that no client walking into any FPA India facility is denied any service, especially if he/she is unable to afford even the subsidized fee. Thus, poor and marginalized clients can also access quality services in FPAI clinics. Only when the facility is not equipped to provide a particular service (for example some client may need a specialized service, or admission or higher level emergency care) are clients to other facilities.”

Gender and Tech with Open Source Community

Embedded for Her, is a 10 weeks workshop conducted by FSMK ( Free Software Movement of Karnataka) to promote more women  coders in the specific field of embedded systems. As an Open Source Community, they  believe that more and more people need to join in the free software movement to make technology more democratic. There are very few women in this specific field and FSMK aims to encourage more women to come forward and become active members in this domain and create products accordingly. As part of this workshop, Hidden Pockets was invited as speakers to discuss the role of gender in technology workspaces. Hidden Pockets works on making cities and digital spaces more inclusive for everyone. Hidden Pockets has been conducting Code of Conduct workshops for different organisations to make their spaces more gender friendly.

Systems and Gender

Organisations like Python Girls and Women who Code focus on the software side but there is hardly such representation in the embedded systems community. An embedded system refers to a computer system with a specific function within a larger mechanical system and with real-time computing constraints.  With a future in embedded systems, it was felt that it was necessary that more and more women be part of these processes. Women coders in this workshop were in the age group of 20 to mid 30s. Some were still in college while some others were taking a break from their career.  As part of these discussions, workspaces and gender was discussed. There was a limited understanding around gender and sexuality. The participants did feel that different genders used spaces around them differently which affected their productivity and growth in a company. Some of the participants shared their experiences while working in different workspaces.

 Code of Conduct 

 

 

Code of Conduct helps the participants and the employees see value in diversity and makes spaces more inclusive by bringing in experiences from different backgrounds and connecting these experiences to different themes. The participants were asked for some of the good practises that they would like to see in their workspaces to make it more women friendly. Most of the participants felt happy about the fact that workshops like these were being included to help them develop products which would be more inclusive.

 

 

Images Courtesy : Sekuly Nyekha.

101 Q dates: A project to talk about LGBTQIA+ lives

The Pride month may have come to an end but the LGBTQIA+ community continues to strive forward with pride. One such endeavour has been initiated by Dolly Koshy, a social activist from Bangalore, who plans to go on 101 dates with different people from the LGBTQIA+ community. All 101 Q dates will be blogged. The aim of these 101 dates is LGBTQIA+ sensitisation more than finding a partner.  “In the process of going on these dates, if Dolly finds a partner, she will be happy. If she doesn’t, she will be ok,” says her blog. Being Bangalore based, Koshy is starting off with people from Bangalore and intends to also go on dates with people in other cities when she visits other cities. For a start, she has put together a list of sixty-one different (rather romantic) activities listed on her blog that she would like to do with her different dates including fishing, snuggle in a hammock, go out for breakfast, go on a trek together, movie marathon at home, go birdwatching, bake together, visit a vineyard, go for a movie, attend a concert, among others. (With such a long happy list of romantic date ideas, who wouldn’t want to go on a date with her?)

That said, it could be useful to know Dolly Koshy’s idea of an ideal partner before knocking on her door for a date. According to Koshy, her ideal partner is someone who is intelligent and compassionate with a great sense of humour. Apart from having physical, emotional and political compatibility, the person should be someone with whom she could have a conversation. As for LGBTQIA+ sensitisation, she says that she would try to go on dates with people with different identity, expression and sexuality. Each blog will talk about a specific issue or topic related to the community depending on the gender and sexual identity of the people that she goes on a date with. Through this initiative, Koshy intends to highlight other topics such as body image, asexuality, disability, polyamory, BDSM etc in addition to the regular LGBTIQ+ topics.

This project also extends the opportunity for different businesses to come out as being LGBTQIA+ friendly by sponsoring the dates that Dolly goes on. An Individual or business sponsoring a date, will be coming out to the world as an ally.

Want to go on a date with Dolly Koshy or wish to sponsor one of her dates? You can contact her here.

Editor’s Note: It is important to capture human emotions like love, joy, fear, sadness, compassion, happiness with LGBTQIA+ lives and share them with the world because they are as human as the rest of us. They love, ache, experience pain and sense joy like the rest of us. Why differentiate them from the rest of us? Being an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community, Hidden Pockets is putting its best foot forward and partnering with 101 Q Dates. We are in solidarity with Koshy in her effort to talk about LGBTQIA+ lives. Are you?

Get ready to follow Dolly Koshy and her 101 Dates on Hidden Pockets every week.

Random Hacks of Kindness Bangalore to build affordable accessibility technology

“Not many people are working on affordable accessibility technology. Our group in Bangalore has a group of people who specifically look at accessibility and they have been working on it for years. Since they get involved frequently, it gives the group very good insight into the sector. Accessibility is the area we are able to articulate better problem statements so we stick to it because if there is something that we could come out with then we should retain it.”– Chinmayi S.K, Global Community Coordinator, Random Hacks of Kindness.

Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) claims to be the longest running social hackathon in the world. Accessibility has been a focal theme for Random Hacks of Kindness, Bangalore in the past few editions of their hackathon. The 2016 edition of the hackathon dealt primarily with disability: to make different spaces accessible to persons with disabilities. The problem statements put forth in the 2016 edition included accessible bus stops , public toilets and travel apps accessible for persons with different kind of disabilities. Apart from these, assistive technology mechanism, water management, wheelchair accessibility were also put forth as problems at the beginning of Day 1 of the 2016 edition. Day 2 focused on solving challenges of different accessibility issues. This included the challenges of accessible toilets, accessible bus stands for visually impaired, facial/speech recognition for quadriplegic and workplace solution assessment app for persons with disabilities.

This year’s Bangalore edition happening on June 24 and 25, 2017 is looking to hack to solve five different problems statements pitched by different partner organisations. The press release states the following as the themes for the 2017 edition: disability, sustainability and disaster management which has as its problem statement:

  1. Accessible public transport to enable visually impaired person to identify bus stops. (proposed by Cheshire homes)
  2. Early warning system for earthquakes and other natural calamities (proposed by Opencube Labs)
  3. Carbon foot prints reduction in the agriculture sector (proposed by World Merit India & Opencube Labs)
  4. Conserving water in the agriculture sector. (proposed by World Merit India)
  5. To improve the user interface of an open source application used to map trees (proposed by Gubbi labs)

Earlier, RHoK editions in India would adopt the global hackathon themes. However, in the last few years, the local teams in each city have been deciding on the main themes for their city’s hackathons, based on the issues most prominent in their city.

“After the teams come up with a list of top themes, we reach out to each year’s partners to provide their specific problem statements. After this, we see if these are problems with technical viability. Is there something already existing that could solve this problem? If the answer is no then we go ahead and take that problem up to refine it to be presented to participants in a hackathon,” explains Chinmayi S.K.

She adds that Team RHoK is also working to make the hackathon more accessible with written material for RHoK groups to follow. The team claims to be presently working on a more comprehensive material that RHoK can use globally to make the hackathon and even the venues more accessible. Presently, funding seems to be the main constraints in making the hackathon fully accessible to all.

” The one thing is we do not have too much funding but we try to make it as accessible but clearly don’t go all the way. We want to do that more. We know what it takes it to make an event accessible. We hope to make the event more accessible.” – Chinmay S.K.

The previous editions of Random Hacks of Kindness were for many civic issues like: gender based violence, the floods in Chennai, and the differently abled. This includes the bachchao app for women’s safety and talking Keyboard, a talking typing device for training the visually impaired to build their computer skills. Since the idea is to hack to solve a social issue, no prize money is usually offered to the winning hack. However, RHoK may help the winning idea raise seed funding to take the idea forward. Ideas that have raised seed funding include Bachao, a safety app for women and Accessible bus stops. Apart from that, RHoK also follows up with the developers of other solutions to see their progress and support them where may be required.

“The talking keyboard was actually tested with visually impaired candidates who are taking computer training. And they gave us feedback,” says Chinmayi SK.

So far, the Indian editions have been supported by funding from organisations including NASSCOM 10,000 startups, US Consulate Kolkata, Twitter, HP and Yahoo. This year’s list of partners for the event include Mobisys Technologies, Gubbi Labs, Hidden Pockets, Cheshire Homes, World Merit India and Opencube Labs.

Born at the first Crisis Bar Camp that happened in Washington DC in 2009 to produce open source solutions, Random Hacks of Kindness is now in its seventh edition. With a focus on creating solutions for societal challenges by connecting technologists and different organisations, the global community is now under Geeks Without Bounds with an active presence in Africa, Asia, Australia and North America.

RHoK presently is organized once or twice every year in five Indian cities including Guwahati, Ranchi, and Delhi. The hackathon may be introduced in Nasik or Nagpur this year.

“Anyone can participate. You only need to be interested in hacking to find a solution for a civic issue,” says Poornima Kannan, Team RHOK. “I don’t have a technology background but I participated in the Singpore edition of Random Hacks of Kindness.”

Anyone interested in participating in the hackathon can log onto https://www.krispypapad.com/rhokto register.

Disclaimer: Hidden Pockets is a media partner for Random Hacks of Kindness, Bangalore

Pleasure Pockets: Bangalore’s Blossoms bookstore, every book lover’s paradise

Long before I ever knew that I would be one day calling Bangalore home, I vaguely associated the city with primarily three things: its India’s Silicon Valley moniker, legendary weather, and gardens. I had visited the city once when I was ten years old and en route to a rain-soaked vacation to Ooty; what I most distinctly remember about that trip was visiting what then appeared to be a glitzy Kids Kemp store meters away from the hotel we stayed in at the time. In a curious example of life turning full circle, this same store happens to be located in close proximity to my present home in Bangalore.

Bangalore only started to become more real and tangible to me after I met my husband, a Bangalore boy; the stories he narrated of himself were inevitably intertwined with that of the city and expanded my previously limited perceptions of it. I found myself pausing and reading more about the city wherever I encountered it, whether it was in a blog or an article or a photograph. Nevertheless, during my first few visits to the city, I was a migratory bird, knowing that I was in permanent transit, staying only for so long before returning to my home in a different country and continent at the time. It was only after I came to live here in January this year that I started to make a conscious effort to befriend and claim for my own the city and its space.

How does a city metamorphose into a home from earlier having been just a handful of memories and vague associations though? Perhaps, when you marry one of its inhabitants and acquire the keys to their storehouse of memories. Living in the city now meant that the cafes or streets or restaurants my husband had previously mentioned in his stories were no longer alien to me; as we drove through the streets of Bangalore, they vivified, enlivened by the incidents and events that took place there and which he narrated to me. They truly were memory minefields, as Suketu Mehta brilliantly describes the memory spots in his city, Mumbai in his seminal book, Maximum City: Mumbai Lost and Found. I realised that I was now colonising that world which my husband had once inhabited and now reviving and reliving for me through the memories he was sharing; I was effectively voyaging through Bangalore via his map of memories.

While I was happy to wander through the bylanes of those memories, I was eager to layer them with mine too, creating my own map of memories, those spaces where I could find and access pleasure, as he had done. Yet, that endeavor was fraught with a little hesitation as I grappled with the idea of searching for my pleasure pockets on my own in an unfamiliar city. I found myself gravitating towards one of the first places that I had visited as a bonafide Bangalore resident: the new Blossoms bookstore on Church Street. An avid reader, my husband had told me that he had often found and bought many rare books in this legendary secondhand bookstore and I subsequently read many articles and posts celebrating this veritable Bangalore institution. Thanks to online book shopping, I rarely found myself browsing through bookstores anymore these days; yet, when I first stepped inside the new Blossoms store, I delightedly lost myself in the shelves and shelves of books, savoring the musty story-laden old books smell which I had last inhaled as a postgraduate at university while sitting and researching in its ancient libraries.

Photo credit: Priyanka Sacheti

Even though I claim that I am not a ritualistic person, the truth is that I love forming and sustaining rituals; they add structure, texture, and shape to my memories, carving out shelves where I can place my memories. Going to Blossoms, buying a bagful of books, and sitting down with a drink in the Matteo cafe below demarcates the borders of my first pleasure pocket in the city. If the weather permits, I sit outside, simultaneously indulging in people-watching and briefly skimming through each of the books I have purchased. This is a sort of space which I have never accessed or taken pleasure in before. I previously read my books at home because that’s how I had always read them; I didn’t know any other way. Reading them in a public space was something new and exciting to me.

Ever since I have started visiting it, Church Street has been in the thick of extensive renovation and digging up; the street is in some state of disrepair, making it difficult for the stream of people and vehicles to access it. Yet, this is the only Church Street I know. I enjoy glimpsing the street art that envelops many a wall and building over there. My fascination with street art began when I moved to Pittsburgh, United States; it was the first time I was enjoying such unadulterated access to public space and that access also included engaging with the numerous examples of vibrant street art I encountered there. By the time I arrived in India in August 2014 and shortly moved to Delhi afterwards, the street art scene there was exploding in neighborhoods such as Shahpur Jat and Lodhi Colony; it was one of the few spaces in Delhi that I felt comfortable and secure accessing and photographing without constantly being conscious that I was a woman happening to do so.

Photo credit: Priyanka Sacheti

I experienced that similar and simultaneous feeling of comfort, security, and enjoyment while walking through the vibrant and vital space that I personally have found Church Street to be. The walls bloom multiple avatars of street art; the MG Metro Station is covered in fantastical iridescent creatures while an irreverent street artist cheekily pokes fun at the street art culture itself in several examples in the area. The street’s character constantly evolves as you continue walking down it. There are new shops and old shops, new restaurants and old restaurants. There is an old abandoned house where grows a heavily laden jackfruit and richly flowering hibiscus trees in its garden; its thick bush of bougainvillea turns the walls fuchsia in the afternoon light above neon posters pasted on a metal container. As an amateur photographer who particularly loves to capture the urban space, I always find something new to discover and photograph in Church Street. It is a street which I have claimed for myself, a street which I will take guests visiting Bangalore and include them in my ritual of accessing and befriending Bangalore.

With time, I know that I will find more pleasure pockets in Bangalore; yet this space will always remain special for me for the sheer pleasure I derive from exploring this confluence of art, books, and architecture and knowing it was my first memorable interaction with the city that is my new home.

About the writer:

Priyanka Sacheti is an independent writer based in Bangalore. She has been published in numerous publications with a special focus on art, gender, diaspora, and identity and currently an editor at Mashallah News. An author of three poetry volumes, she’s currently working on a novella. She also explores the intersection of her writing and photography at her blog: http://iamjustavisualperson.blogspot.com/ and instagram: @iamjustavisualperson.

#YouAskedForIt: A walk to move from shame to acceptance and change

“You asked for it being out so late.”

“You asked for it wearing short clothes.”

“You asked for it….”

“You asked for it….”

Saying enough is enough to all the victim blaming of survivors of sexual assault, Winged Warrior, a recovery forum for narcissistic abuse and codependency held a protest march in Cubbon Park on January 8, 2016 to spell consent and respect for all. Taking the lead from the naysayers about victims of sexual abuse, the march was named #YouAskedForIt.

“People always keep slut shaming saying ‘You asked for it,’ shaming survivors and victims of any sexual assault. It is time to shame the sexual predators and offenders. And that’s why the name #YouAskedForIt for our initiative,” says Arundhati Chaudhari, Managing Director of Winged Warriors.

Though the permission for protest march from Victoria statue at Cubbon Park to the M.G.Road metro station was denied by Cubbon Park police station, the group continued with its protest. Instead of a walk, they stood by the Cubbon Park M.G Road signal, displaying their message boards. “We stood at the signal when signals were red moving from one side to another with each signal change. Traffic slowed down while we were there. I don’t know what sort of an impact it had. It felt like some people saw it,” says Chaudhary speaking about their protest.

The group then moved into Cubbon Park to settle down for a discussion on sexual harassment and other forms of sexual assault that needed more awareness. The conversation revolved around different places – work, home, public spaces and different forms of harassment in each of those spaces, identifying a prospective molester, what can be done about it and self-defence.

“Mostly women, shared stories of sexual harassment. It was an honest expression. It takes a lot of courage to say it out loud in public. To see it was heartbreaking and also enlightening. People are talking about it and it is no longer a matter of shame,” says Vasu Dixit, Musician & Artivist who took part in the march and also performed at the end of it.

Don’t these protests or conversations die out eventually? What is the effect of such a gathering? According to Dixit, women find a community where their voices will be heard. “In their own houses, they don’t share it to protect the name of the family or out of fear. In such spaces, they can say it out loud. There is a sense of belonging. Men are also taught to have empathy and not shame the women saying that they have been molested but to say you have been molested but I’m with you.”

What is the longevity of such a protest? Is the message and spirit of such groups sustainable? Answering to this question, Chaudhari says, “We later on realized that we need to do more of these charts and display them in public spaces more often. Sensitization program should happen at a regular basis and can’t be compartmentalised.” With that in mind, Winged Warriors intends to have its next session on self-defence, followed by other sessions for survivors of different forms of sexual assaults, one step at a time. Forums, discussions and communities help individually change attitude and help people come together as a society.

#YouAskedForIt may have begun with just a group of fifteen but ended with a group of over fifty people, with on-goers stopping by to take a look especially during the music performance towards the end. That said, considering that all that was shared was personal, confidentiality of the conversation was a priority, notes Chaudhari. Changing the society might take time, but these conversations are the starting point to influence change in people, one person at a time.

Walks Free Like Pockets Spree: Pleasure Pockets experience

children playing in park

At 8PM on a Friday Night, my friends and I were standing outside Christ University Main Gate for the walk to start. Yes, I had invited half my friend list on Facebook, and yes, the event page on Facebook says 39 going and 100 interested, but I still wondered if people would turn up. Within a span of 10 minutes, 30 people were standing at the venue. A few regular faces, and others unknown, all of us eager to know what will happen next.

By 8:10, the Hidden Pockets team had inaugurated the walk. All of us stood in a circle with Jasmine in between explaining to us what the walk is all about.

“Why should we suddenly wake up one morning to reclaim the streets?”

“Do we actually feel safe walking at night?”

“Isn’t it a bit awkward to walk around with strangers?”

While a few of these questions were thrown at us at the beginning of the walk, we were asked not to walk ‘with our friend/known face’ and observe the streets carefully. Quite frankly, I was doubtful regarding what difference this walk could make. Till I reached Stop number 1: Under the Dairy Circle Bridge

The Junction under the Dairy Circle Bridge in Hosur Road is one of a kind. With not a single street light on the road and nobody around, it could be one of the creepiest spots of our area. Again, we stood around Jasmine as she asked us if we have ever commuted via that road. Everyone were quite participative and she asked about our experiences traveling in a dark/shady road. Each one of us had different answers. While, one of the girls in the group was afraid of tall bulky men walking behind her in the evening another boy was afraid of Transgenders following him in the night. Each one of us had our own stories that we are embarrassed about and this walk made us open up about it. Not only were negative experiences shared, every possible utilization of a dark/shady road was discussed.

Jasmine: Have you ever made out under a bridge?

Me: Well, not bridge specifically..

A few my friends raised their hands. Good thing it was dark, no one remembered their faces in the morning in order to tease them to death. The next stop was somewhere in the middle of the main road. We got into a discussion on whether or not CCTV cameras in streets is a good option in order to keep the streets safe. A few of us felt that it was a good initiative as everything is recorded and can be under supervision while a few others thought it was a major invasion of privacy. This particular discussion got me thinking. I used to be someone who used to think that the more the security devices (CCTV cameras, Safety Apps etc) the more the safety. But, with 1,500 police men present in the New years eve in Brigade road, many, many women got molested. A CCTV footage of a group of men grouping a girl on a street went viral on Facebook. But, did that really help change any mentalities around? Do I feel safer to walk after 8PM just because a CCTV is capturing my movement?

The last two stops where in SG Pallaya. (A well known street near Christ University where most of the students stay). One was near a park, the other was near a famous theatre in that area. We got into many interesting discussions and debates. While we gathered in a big circle to listen and respond to Jasmine, we also noticed random strangers in the streets joining behind us to find out what was happening. One of the most interesting discussions included whether or not our safety depends upon the income group of a person, or the ‘class’ they belonged to. Yes, we were after all a group of strangers strolling around the streets together and having discussions, how is it that I felt safer around them, but suddenly felt conscious when a stranger from a lower income group joined the gathering? Are we being stereotypical of people? Are we judgmental with people on streets? Am I being too comfortable with my Facebook-user-Activists group that I’m forgetting to educate everyone in the movement?

While all these questions were shot in the air, all of us kept walking and reached the end of the walk. Quite frankly, we were not only searching our way back, but also the answers to all those questions. I must have walked the same route a million times in 3 years, but this was the most insightful and thought provoking walk I’ve been in. While a few of us were inquisitive as to what can be done next, a whole group of others were confident that changing mentalities is one of the biggest challenges. No, not every problem needs to have a solution right now. I know that CCTV on roads isn’t the answer, I also know that moral policing and staying “back at home” isn’t the answer. I also don’t have an alternative, but sometimes, acknowledging that the principle is wrong is all we need to start a movement and make a change. The Hidden Pockets Team made a difference by creating a thought bubble among us. We need to do something, and we need to start now. Looking forward to more and more #pleasure pockets walks. Here’s to reclaiming the streets, inch-by-inch, street-by street and debunking myths about spaces around us.

Author Profile:

Mira is an ardent left leaning feminist who prefers pizzas over pastas any!

Finding free health services for women: A look at government hospitals in Bengaluru

“How many Government Hospitals are there in Bengaluru? Could you please tell me few names?” I asked a female worker at St Johns Hospital, Bengaluru, who had a big smile on her face and looked approachable. “Umm, Victoria… Vanivilas… Jayadeva… there are a lot of them” she answered. Armed with what I could glean from Google and my limited knowledge of Kannada, I was on a quest: to locate health services for women in government hospitals in the city. Having attempted it before in Delhi as part of a mapping project for Hidden Pockets, which locates services around sexual and reproductive health services. Having done this before in Delhi, we were trying to do the same in Bangalore, to understand what that process was like for women who seek health services and be able to recommend it to women in all situations. But given our rather bleak experiences trying to figure this out in Delhi, my research in Bangalore led to a pleasant surprise.

Bengaluru Urban District is divided into four taluks: Bengaluru North, Bengaluru East, Bengaluru South and Anekal. I went to five government hospitals across the North, East and South taluks. The first hospital I visited was Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, a 2-minute walk from the busy Shivaji Nagar Bus. It is much cleaner than the government hospitals I have seen in Delhi, and guards were very helpful, and able to answer my queries.

“Room No27. Yes, that is where she sits,” one guard told me when I asked where I could find a gynaecologist. “Once you procure an Admit Card for Rs10, you can consult a doctor here” he added. I met a few, all young and helpful doctors, who told me that the facilities are provided for free. The patients also looked happy with the services. Out of curiosity I asked one of the patients who was waiting to meet the doctor outside Room No. 27, how the services were and if it was for free. She told me that the check-ups as well as the medicines were free, one needed only to pay transportation costs. She told me the doctors were helpful. To double check, I also spoke to the chemist at their in-house pharmacy. “All medicines are free, but if it is not present in the main medicine block then we sell those medicines at 50-percent-off rates at the generic medical store under “Jana Sanjivini” scheme. This scheme involves setting up of generic stores in the hospitals of Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education,” he explained.

Content with what I saw, I walked towards Government HSIS Gosha Hospital, which is a 10-minute walk from the Shivaji Nagar Bus stand. Nobody seemed to know about it and most of them referred to it as the Muslim hospital. I could spot it on Google maps, but the navigation didn’t keep up with me and I was lost. An hour later, a cab driver was able to point me in the right direction. The hospital had a big entrance and a big board with its name written on it but as I entered it was difficult to understand where the building was. I couldn’t find the entrance gate. The hospital was under construction and I could only find the Maternity ward, rest of the hospital seemed under construction “Gosha Hospital handles all maternity issues which includes pregnancy, women’s health issues, Paediatrics, abortion etc. Rest all cases go to Bowring Hospital which is 15 minutes walk away from here”, a helpful staff told me. Gosha Hospital also follows the same procedure, one needs to get an admit card costing Rs. 5. All the treatment as well as the medicines are free. I could see the admitted ladies were talking evening strolls at the hospital veranda.  I was amazed by the cleanliness of the hospital and the smiling faces of the admitted patients made the hospital look more friendly. This hospital had more of the Muslim crowd. I tried meeting the head of the hospital for more information about MTP but I was denied and was told to get my employee ID card for any information. But the helpful staff was very polite and told me one can come during morning for MTP.

The next hospital in the list was the Victoria Hospital which is located close to the City Market, Fort Road. It was very easy to locate Victoria Hospital since it is one of the biggest government hospitals in Bengaluru. While searching for the maternity ward at Victoria, I found Vanivilas. It is a huge building which has all the services required in a maternity ward. I got to know that the maternity ward is called ‘Vanivilas’ and to meet the gynaecologist one needs to go to Room No. 29. “Patient needs to get an admit card costing Rs.10 and then can consult the doctor. All services are free here,” said one of the female nurses who directed me to Room No. 29. Vanivilas takes care of all the issues related to pregnancy, women’s health issues, paediatrics and abortion. At Room No. 16 one can get free tablets. It follows the “Jana Sanjivini” scheme i.e. all medicines are free, but if it is not present in the main medicine block then medicines are sold at 50-percent-off rates at the generic medical store.

One-Stop Centres

In my mapping study, I was also looking for one stop crisis centres (which we’ve explored previously in The Ladies Finger) in Bengaluru. These centres are intended to support women affected by violence, and to cater to the immediate medical, legal and psychological needs of the survivors of violence. In 2015, the Ministry of Women & Child Development proposed to set up 36 centres across the country with an outlay of Rs 18 crore under the Nirbhaya Fund. In the first phase there should have been one centre per State/UT.

When I enquired about it at Vanivilas, I was instantly told there was one at Bowring Hospital. I did go back, and found the Women Special Ward there called “Mahila Gataka” and found that it works exactly the same as the one stop crisis centres proposed by the Central Government. A unit was devoted to support women affected by violence. The unit had proper check-up rooms, a room for admitting the patient if required. There was provision for a counsellor, a policeman, legal assistance, a person from NGO. The unit was clean and was properly maintained. A staff from the hospital who was probably a nurse, was in charge of the unit. The staff was very friendly and approachable. She took me around and showed me the entire unit. The centre seems to operate on funds from the Karnataka state government; as The Hindu reports, the state has not claimed compensation under the Nirbhaya Fund. Considering I didn’t find a one-stop centre in Delhi, I never expected to find one in Bengaluru and was pleased to be proved wrong by Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital.

The last hospital I visited was KC General Hospital in Malleswaram. It was easy to find this hospital. Most of the auto guys knew about it. “You can meet the gynaecologist in A Block,” the guard told me. As I stepped inside the A Block and the first thing I noticed was ‘Mahila Gataka’. I was highly impressed. The person in charge showed me the unit. It was exactly similar to the one in Bowring Hospital. There was provision for a counsellor, a policeman, legal assistance and a person from NGO. The unit was smaller than the unit in Bowring Hospital. The doctors were approachable. It was lovely to see how even the hospital guards knew about the unit and how they were ready to guide us whenever we asked. KC General also offers free medical assistance to its patients. In all the Government hospitals, we went, maximum cost incurred was Rs. 10 (admit card).

The whole mapping around Government Hospitals in Bengaluru made me realise that public hospitals in Bengaluru are approachable. The staff is friendly and helpful. The guards were aware about the Women Special Wards (Similar to One Stop crisis centre). I would say that the government hospitals in Bengaluru are doing a good job. Common wo/man should try out the services provided by the Public Health Care. The consultation is completely free and the services are pretty fine.

Practitioners Experience:

The experience I shared above is as an end user. Had I missed out on the experiences by the on-field practitioners who have actually worked with these government health services providers, this article would have been in complete. One of the practitioner felt that these health providers are good but can do a lot better. Patients tend to offer extra payment to doctors, which has also become a forced practise now. The patients should try to understand that government hospital services are all free and by paying the doctors extra they are creating an extra burden for those who actually can’t pay.

Author Profile:

Aisha Lovely George, a researcher and podcaster at Hidden Pockets. Folllow her at @aishalgeorge on Instagram.

We would love to thank The Ladies Finger for helping us think through the piece and helping us curate a better experience.

 

How safe is SG Palya in Bangalore for women?

Poster of a kanada movie

With Gender Equality at No.5 in UN’s list for things to improve, India starts the year with women safety as a widely discussed subject in all directions. Considered to be one of the safest spaces until now, has Bengaluru started drawing parallels with Delhi?

In light of the recent incident in Bangalore on New Year’s eve, it becomes pertinent to explore and understand different areas with high concentration of female population. Suddagunte Palya or S.G.Palya located in South of Bangalore is a home to thousands of girls who come from the different parts of the country for education and jobs. ‘None of the city, be it Bengaluru or any place in India is safe enough for a girl to walk freely during night hours and be absolutely safe,’ says a Social Work student from Christ University who resides in SG Palya for the last two years. That said, another management student from Christ University who also lives in a PG in the area disagrees. ‘No, I don’t think so, there have been many days in my life when I had a late night walks and have roamed around on bikes.’ The recent incident that happened on New Year’s night, has indeed changed the existing notions about places and pleasures but that will not stop the new force, who are coming out much prepared for these challenges.

The uniqueness of SG Palya is its dynamics and ethnicity. ‘The area used to be a barren land earlier with very few people residing.’ Tells a local resident who runs their old condiment shop near Christ School. As the population grew things changed and those who had small land or a property turned it into four storey buildings occupied mostly by the students and job employees.

My parents have always told me to not travel alone after evening time because of the mixed population in the area.’ says Akansha, a local resident who works in a MNC. But she also adds ‘I usually come back late from my office and I just try not to go out alone after the initial dark hours, otherwise I have always found this place happening and full of life.’ She believes that women have to travel daily because of their work and they can’t quit going out and traveling by local transport simply because these cases are happening and suggests that this area has lot of things to do. Women’s accommodation in the area is usually expensive than men’s and differs based on the facilities and location. A two or three sharing is more feasible than a single sharing. There are enough medical and healthcare centres in the area, which are function throughout the day although it was hard to find any government woman help center in the area.

Photo credit: Ashish Kumar

Equipped with both north-Indian and south Indian delicacies from Shawarma counters to happy meals all over the place, the area has several dining options including cafes like Mécaf Multicuisine and Eat n DrinkChristites adda is the new Malabar Café, which is always serving tea and fries to students’ crowd. The best of thing about this area is that there are three single screen theatres, Srinivasa, Laxmi and Balaji theatres. When asked, many girls say that they don’t prefer going to these theatres because they don’t seem women-friendly. Comparing the prices with luxurious PVR cinemas in Forum, these theaters offer much cheaper viewing but appealing only to the male audiences.

Tavarekere Park is another fun spot in the area. It has a running track for walkers and runners. Women prefer going to this park during early morning and evening time. According to the locals, the park needs maintenance and stop the miscreants from polluting the tranquillity of the area. They also say that there have been few cases of theft and assault but the effort has been put in to prevent such incidents. Most of the parts of the park is under surveillance and along these lines to find some personal space would be not so easy. But places like Soho St., Little Italy, Malabar Bay and Forum mall are always there to have a good time.

Photo credit: Ashish Kumar

‘This city is considered to be one of the most advanced, in terms of education and work culture but it’s not about just education. It’s all about the attitude towards women and it is about time that we bring back the chivalry culture,’ says an employee from one of the famous cafes in the area, when asked if the recent incident would affect their establishment. This small pocket in south of Bangalore has motivated to maintain positivity in the hearts and minds of all gender and the recent events will only help in empowering women to fight against the growing menace and live out loud without any fear.  ‘Modernisation is not just of spaces but also of thoughts.

Author profile:

Ashish Kumar is a Media and Communications post-graduate from Christ University, Bangalore. He is a freelance writer and is passionate about films, politics, and new age journalism. Previously, he has worked with Jagran Prakashan Ltd, NetworkingEye.com, Web Cyonix, and interned with Hindustan Times, Patna. His sources of inspiration are writers Charles Bukowski and Eric Hobsbawm.

Digital Citizen Summit 2016: privacy of the digital citizen?

Encrypt! Encrypt! Encrypt! 

That was one of the key takeaways from the Privacy panel at the Digital Citizen Summit 2016 organised by Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die Freiheit (FNF) and Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) in Bangalore on November 11, 2016. This panel could not have been better timed!

With a shortage in currency notes in circulation in the country due to last week’s demonetisation of the Indian currency,  many have taken to using digital methods (credit card, debit card, internet payment, digital wallets etc) to manage their lives. With digital transactions, users leave a digital footprint that could be easily tracked it not careful. Let’s just say that if you bought a condom with your credit card or debit car, the government could know or worse, anyone could know about it. It gets better. India does not have any law to protect the privacy of its people.

So what then do we do? That was precisely the topic of discussion during this panel on privacy. With speakers from all around the world, the panel began with a global overview on privacy. Some interesting points were:

  • Users give data even when they don’t want to: The phone number of a non-user of a service could still be available with the service provider because their rightful users have given them the right to access all the phone numbers from their phone.
  • National security – Govt’s excuse to collect data: It is usually to child pornography, drug laundering, terrorism but more importantly, national security. However, no one has exactly defined what constitutes a threat to national security. Even Sec 33, sub-clause 2 of the Aadhar Bill 2016 says that the state may access the data of the citizens for reasons of national security, then again with no real definition of national security
  • Govt wants data even from private players : Governments also want to control the retention of data by intermediaries. Government send annual data requests to companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, among others. Pages or information may be taken down without any explanation. There is very little conversations happening around this, to change this.
  • Private data to predict trends: With the recent U.S elections, it became evident that with private data given to a private organisation, the election results can be predicted. It is ironic that we expect the government to find out what such private organisations could do with our data.
  • Encryption, the safety net: Though encryption is the safest way to use the Internet, encryption is used only by some services like WhatsApp. After introducing its draft National Policy on Encryption, the Government of India withdrew it within two days. There is also lack of understanding about encryption and how to use it.
  • Legal framework: Along with encryption, a legal framework may also be necessary. Going money less could be scary with it, don’t you think?
  • Content -> Platform -> Network control effect: Content regulation is done usually against child pornography and anything that disrupts public order. In the printing pre-web era, the control point for content was with the newspaper or publisher. In the web era, with social media and blogs, users became their own publishers. Then governments moved to intermediary bodies to regulate the content like Facebook and Google. The liability moved to these platforms. These organisations have to self-regulate to be away from liability. People who got shifted control from content to platform. If the IP address was blocked, many people get affected.  Post-Snowden’s revelation to the world, some governments introduced encryption. Government could then also ask local service providers to remove content. However this is not possible with providers from abroad. Local laws don’t govern these companies. In order to censor any content on their websites, governments would have to know the whole URL. But with encryption, only the domain name is available. So content cannot be censored in most countries. Governments are trying to get into the network layer in a way that everyone who uses the layer gets affected by it. Conversations around this is extremely important and necessary.
  • Surveillance shapes behaviours: Going beyond violations, it is important to remember that surveillance shapes behaviours, though the intent may be good. In December 2014, Germany banned the retention of data by any service provider viewing it as a violation of privacy and data protection. This was passed by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany owing to the effect the surveillance could have on the citizens behaviour. May be the history of Germany has something to do with this worry?

How can you on protect your privacy online?

All that said and done, how then can we protect our privacy online? How can we make the Internet a safe space? The key takeaways from the Privacy panel at the Digital Citizen Summit 2016 were:

  • Encrypt! Encrypt! Encrypt! Encrypt your mails and your actions to protect data and privacy.
  • Know the thing that you use: Learn where your data is and how it is protected.
  • Ask questions: Have the courage to question the status quo and refuse to comply if it doesn’t make sense.
  • Sharing information: Put out as little information about yourself as possible, on the Internet. Better, share wrong information. Like a post or page that is of no interest to you on Facebook. Now that could be a good way to mislead.