Exploring opportunities to project a 'responsible man' image: Gatekeepers views of young men's sexual and reproductive health needs in Uttaranchal, India

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Increase in extramarital sex among youths, gender-based violence, lack of contraceptive knowledge among newly married couples and lack of knowledge of protection against diseases like STIs/HIV are the information and service needs of young people that need to be addressed urgently in order to make them future knowledgeable, responsible, and non-violent partners. In addressing these needs the gatekeepers, including parents, formal and informal community leaders and teachers, play a critical role, by facilitating/hindering access to appropriate and correct information about sexual and reproductive health to young people. The study was conducted in a district of Uttaranchal, India. The specific objective was to understand the social context and gatekeepers' views on family planning and sexual and reproductive health needs of young men. Thirty-two in-depth interviews and four focus group discussions were conducted with parents, formal and informal community leaders, teachers, and selected development officials. The findings indicate that gatekeepers are worried about rapid changes in the aspiration, expectation, and behavior of young men. Most of them were seriously concerned about the increasing drinking habit, use of drugs, and changing values of sexuality leading to various risk behaviors among young men. They felt that many of these changes are consequences of wider societal changes, rising aspirations, explosion of electronic media, and globalization of a new youth culture where extramarital sex, alcohol consumption, and violence are expressions of different facets of masculinity and symbols of the affluent class. Overall, there was a feeling that TV/films and their peers now influence more the socialization of young people and parents are losing control in guidance and mentoring of their children.