Thiruvananthapuram: Indian Medical Association (IMA) social media award means a lot for Dr J.S. Veena. A post-graduate student of Government Medical College, Thiruvanantha-puram, Dr Veena has been using her social media presence to spread messages about health issues and women's rights.
"The award might offer me a better means to make more women aware of their health issues and their rights, and hence it makes me happy," she told DC. "I don't mind if someone uses my posts even without giving me the credit as long as the information reaches more people. Especially if it helps more women learn that they have certain rights over their body."
Dr Veena has been very vocal about body autonomy and women's rights and she was selected for the award for her posts on menstruation and breastfeeding. IMA noted that her post on menstruation was scientific and simple.
"Many a time I receive personal messages saying they didn't know about the ill effects," Dr Veena said. "Once a school invited me for a talk to the students. After I explained to them the risk of cervical cancer being high among those who get married early, a student said she will be married off at 18 years and asked me if she can get a vaccination against human papillomavirus."
Her Facebook posts on abortion rights of women, legally recognised in the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTPA), have attracted a lot of antagonistic comments, too. However, she did not budge, and carried on with her conversations. The posts on menstruation also invited much wrath. "I had written how women should not fast if they are pregnant or while they are menstruating. There was a post on a tendency to use pills to delay periods, and how this was unhealthy. There have been opposing comments to many of the posts," she said.
Many would get discouraged and stop midway given the response but she refused to give up. "I had faced isolation in my college, and hence the decision to stand with people or communities which have to silently bear with social discrimination, shaming or isolation," she said. One of the reasons she could persist with her efforts is her family which has been a rock-solid support. "Had my father not supported me during that difficult period, mine would not have been the same story. Now, when I put up posts on abortion rights, my mother, though not exposed to worldly views, does not oppose it," she says. “And my husband and family, too, offer unconditional support.”
Social media may not be the best media available, she said. "But I have no other platform, especially because of the subjects I choose to talk. Now, with the recognition from IMA, I now have a wider space."
The doctor has taken a short break from Facebook. "I will take some time to return full fledgedly to social media. But I have to return, because we have to speak out about these issues.” she says....