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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Meet the lady who is trying to change the narrative of ECPs

Meet Archanaa Seker, a Chennai-based activist who is trying to create a difference in sexual and reproduction rights. Usually, people confuse contraceptives pills with abortion pills. In several parts of the country getting ECPs is still a problem, especially in Tamil Nadu, the pills are shadow-banned. 

Box with iPills

Here is how Archanaa is trying to bridge the gap by her initiative. She started this initiative in the year 2016 when it was very difficult to source such pills. She said, ” I used to source the pills from the people who would come from other cities and gave away to the people who needed them through the whisper network. It was word of mouth. and then people would come and pick them up.”

She while talking about the issue says, this is the conversation that happens only when a social media post goes viral and later the conversation fades away. 

Archanaa Seker

Talking to Platocast she said, “In 2019 there was a request for the pill on social media that went viral. That is when I set my email available to those who needed it. I have received many mails at the odd hours and they sounded desperate and, I used to respond immediately later my friend Namrata would take over it as I was out of the country”. 

During COVID,19 she decided to go public instead of whisper network. She returned to India and, later she posted on Twitter about the availability of ECPs and that went viral. She has received many emails asking for the pills, from various age group and different part of the state. 

Archanaa’s Twitter post

She says, “I am not the first person to do this nor the last either.” She also mentioned that it is an urgent need that the government should look into.

She became one among those go-to people for the iPills during Tamil Nadu’s coronavirus lockdown. She believes that the ECPs should be available as easy as Crocin in the medical stores. 

For the unavailability of the pills, over past four or five years, people put out a request on social media saying ” I need a pill” due to the need and many other would share the post asking for help. 

She says, If anyone would need such a pill in Chennai they would ask a friend who will be having a stock after visiting other cities and, in many cases, the pill would be expired. The emergency contraceptive pills to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex and in many scenarios, it gets delayed due to the process. 

But on the flip side, she mentions that there are a lot of strings attached, many believe that we live in a society where there is no sex hence no pills. Talking about the reasons, Archanaa says, people have misunderstood abortion pills with ECPs and also experienced weird incidents nd requests like males asking for two-three pills. She mentioned that she has been very cautious before giving the pill to anyone. 

Archanaa says when asked the pharmacist about the stock of the ECP pills, they say there is no demand for it, and hence, they don’t have the stock. The glitch in the system has created a huge gap in communication.”

This is a scenario where the sigma is attached to it and the blame game continues to happen. She considers it as an urgent issue that requires attention by sharing her insights. 

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