Talking to Young People About Sex
Ana Chatbot conveying sexual reproductive health information to young people
Written by Shanjeev Reddy, 4th August 2021
PUTRAJAYA: In conjunction with the “Chup! Jom Sembang Seks” campaign starting today, Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia (FRHAM), R.AGE and Unicef launched ANA, a WhatsApp-based chatbot for young people to access accurate information on sexual reproductive health and rights.
“The world children grow up in today is very different from that of their parents and with the ANA chatbot, we are meeting children where they are – online – and providing them with information that promotes positive values about their bodies and healthy relationships.
“We want to ensure that when girls and boys go online to search for information about health and sexuality, the searches are helpful and do not harm them,” said Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, Representative for Unicef in Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei.
The ANA chatbot hosts 260 questions and can respond in both Bahasa Malaysia and English. The topics covered include Sexual Reproductive Health Education, Consent, Child and Sexual Abuse, Sexuality and Gender Identity, Teen Pregnancy and Sexual Grooming. The chatbot also shares steps on making police reports and connects victims to relevant helplines such as Talian Kasih and BeFrienders.
“Comprehensive sexuality education plays a central role in equipping young people with the ability to navigate risk and prepares them for a safe, productive and fulfilling life. FRHAM is aware that there is a lack of accurate, unbiased, non-judgment views on SRHR, online or offline. In today’s highly connected world, digital technology provides another entry-point for sexuality education although this information may not be correct. FRHAM is here to provide accurate information”, said Nora Murat, Executive Director of Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia (FRHAM).
Sexual reproductive health and rights education is a key component to address several social issues including teenage pregnancy, baby-dumping and early marriages. ANA chatbot is a tool that will ensure girls and boys have access to sexual reproductive health education. The “National Strategy Plan In Handling The Causes Of Child Marriage” under the auspices of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development highlights comprehensive sexuality education as a contributing factor to ending teenage pregnancy which is identified as one of the causes of child marriage in Malaysia.
The ANA Chatbot provides young people with a safe and supportive space to ask questions and obtain information about reproductive health and services. It serves as a platform for them to articulate, and share their experiences, concerns and recommendations on reproductive health. The ANA Chatbot promotes the need for school-based age-appropriate reproductive health education for young persons and children. The ANA Chatbot does not capture or store personal data and private information on the platform.
In 2017, an earlier version of ANA, a web-based chatbot focused on sex education, was developed by R.AGE, Zeno and Hyperlab after the successful Predator In My Phone documentary campaign that contributed to Parliament passing the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.