Our Collaboration with Salaam Baalak Trust

Our second session at Salaam Baalak Trust was testament to how different a talk can be at the same institution.

Dear reader,

As you know by now, our articles serve as our own feedback  to develop our campaign. For this article, I’m trying a new format to present our feedback in a more constructive and concise manner., 

Future Advice #1: Document the names of the girls who attend our session each time. When we reached Salaam Baalak Trust for the second time, we were welcomed by smiles from faces familiar and new. Because we hadn’t written the names of the girls from our first talk, it took longer than usual to populate the little mats on the sunbathed roof. 

Future Advice #2: RLD (Response Language Detection) does work. If you find this term cool, it’s because I coined it. In our previous talks, we often struggled to understand which language our audience is more comfortable with when using scientific terminology. We came up with a strategy to overcome this – when introducing a body part on a diagram, we would teach them both the Hindi and English term for it. To test their knowledge, we would then ask them to name the body part as we pointed at it. The language the majority responded in indicated which one they were more comfortable with. For instance, we applied RLD by introducing the term for “vagina” in both languages, English and Hindi (“yoni”). When asked to respond, most referred to it as the “vagina”, suggesting we could use English terms later. 

RLD in action

Future Advice #3: Draw and carry diagrams for all biological topics that can be spoken about – ranging from the menstrual cycle to sexual intercourse. While our biological segment covers menstruation, a diagram depicting the menstrual cycle can help expand on the topic if our audience permits us to. “Permitting” is, of course, a vaguely interpreted term and we couldn’t rely on the possibility of questions to gauge how comfortable or curious our audience was. The seemingly less talkative girls intermittently nodded when we recounted our experiences with vaginal discharge, which we ascertained to be a green flag to elaborate on this phenomenon. Even though we were able to expand on vaginal discharge in terms of varying thickness and colour, a diagram would have proved more than helpful. When the concept of sex was met with a few confused looks, we were forced to rely on some classic hand gestures which, quite surprisingly, sent the message. 

Future Advice #4: Stick to the dispersed seating arrangement. As opposed to sitting next to each other as we did this session, we would politely ask our listeners whether they could scoot to the left a little bit – thank you, I’ll sit here, if you don’t mind. We’ve noticed that the shy, yet inquisitive, audience members take advantage of this arrangement and whisper their doubts to the nearest REDefine member while others are more vocal. This time, because we sat together, we only received questions that were addressed to the group (which were comparatively fewer). When bidding farewell to Salaam Baalak Trust, a girl approached me to ask about how height changes upon puberty. While I appreciated the question, I reflected on why she didn’t ask me during the talk. Perhaps it was because of our group arrangement. This really helped us identify how the simple subconscious act of scattering ourselves through our audience encouraged questions. 

Our collaboration with Salaam Baalak Trust was definitely a memorable one, showing us the effectiveness of new strategies and the importance of old habits. We look forward to implementing our learnings in future talks!

We’ll see you next time,

Ritika from the REDefine Team

Remember to check out and support the amazing work Salaam Baalak Trust is doing: https://www.salaambaalaktrust.com/

The Period Survey Conducted in Rainbow Homes

The REDefine members were pumped to meet our largest group of girls, 73 to be exact, yet (today, it was just Tara, Jhanvi, Anshika, Shresth, and Meher) and introduce them to our first male member. In a flurry of excitement, we frantically printed 100 surveys that hadn’t been assembled beforehand. Would the survey prove more successful and yield more information than the last time?

One survey was for girls who had already started their periods while the other one was for girls who had not yet. Both the surveys were printed out in Hindi and had the options ‘yes’ or ‘haan’, ‘no’ or ‘naa’ and ‘maybe’ or ‘shaayad’.

Hidden behind the crowded lanes of Kilkari, the Rainbow Home was like a gated island of joy — tucked away from the thousands of men going about their day. It was, admittedly, an experience navigating the sea of people with only a confused Google Maps as a compass. When we reached the were greeted by a courtyard of girls playing during their lunch break. They were organized into two classrooms on the basis of their age groups. And thus, we began our survey!

A buzz grew in the rooms as the girls discovered what the survey was really about. As with all most of our encounters, the initial lack of response was slightly disheartening but, following the trend, whispers slowly turned to enthusiastic chatter. We noticed some girls were copying each other’s answers or asking their teachers for help. As much as we tried to stop this by telling them to answer their own survey honestly and by emphasising the fact that it was not a test, a few girls’ answers were not their own. Therefore, the data collected from this survey was not of the quality we had intended it to be. 

Some of the younger girls couldn’t understand the questions while some could not read or write. We sat each of these girls down and guided them through the survey. This process actually facilitated a lot of discussions and highlighted a few issues with the survey. We observed that sentences needed to be framed better and the confusion between what a question was asking and the objective or aim of that question needed to be addressed.

The walk back to the car was composed of a feedback session of sorts where we discussed the survey questions, our individual experiences while helping the girls fill in the surveys, their reactions to some of the questions and what topics our upcoming talk with them could include. This was documented in a voice recording that soon became tradition following any interactions we had.

In conclusion, the survey was a partial success as we managed to take a survey of our first large group of girls and also figured out the flaws in our survey.

The results of the survey are as follow:

Question 2
Question 3
Question 4
Question 5
Question 6
Question 7 
Question 8
Question 9 
Question 10
Question 11 
Question 12
Question 13
Question 14

Happy reading!

Meher from the REDefine Team.

The SETU Survey: Our Results

The survey we conducted at SETU was the first draft of a set of question that are still in the works.

Out of a total of 39 girls who gave the survey 24 girls knew what periods are while 15 did not. Additionally, majority of the girls (66.6%) attended school while only a few said that they missed school while on their period. Most of the girls at Setu utilize pads while on their periods while only one uses cloth. And, almost all the girls first heard about periods and menstruation from their mothers but none of them spoke only to their fathers about it. However, two girls said that they were introduced to it by both their parents together.

Some of the different responses to the taboos and myths that the girls face include: not being allowed to eat sour/spicy food, not being allowed to enter the temple, not being allowed to make physical contact with others, not being allowed to wear tight clothes, not being allowed to enter the kitchen or take any medicine.

These are the results for our survey:

Question 1 SETU Survey Data
Question 1
Question 2 SETU Survey Data
Question 2
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Question 3
Question 4 SETU Survey Data
Question 4