Hidden Pockets locates services around sexual and reproductive health in Delhi on a digital map
Earlier this year, the team at Hidden Pockets, a digital mapping startup founded by a young feminist lawyer, had a bizarre experience. Hidden Pockets puts services around sexual and reproductive health in Delhi on a digital map, and the team wanted to locate all of Delhi’s One-Stop Centres in one map. Announced by Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi in March 2015, the One-Stop Centres (OSCs) were meant to help victims of rape and violence find a number of institutions under one roof, from medical professionals to police personnel and psychological counselors, so that they didn’t have to run between institutions for redressal. The centres were supposed to have been up and running by September 2015.
So the members of the Hidden Pockets team confidently set out to find these centres, in order to put the data on their online map. But here’s what happened: they did not find a single centre. The OSCs seemed to exist only on paper. “According to the Press Information Bureau (PIB), six had already been set up in Delhi. We went to five hospitals across the city: AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, RML Hospital, GTB Hospital and Deen Dayal Hospital. But when we went in search of these centres, forget functional centres – we found that barely anyone at the hospitals we visited even knew they were meant to have them,” wrote Hidden Pockets founder Jasmine Lovely George in a report for the website Ladies Finger in January 2016.
Odd and striking as this story is, it is just one of the reasons why collating data and location information about public institutions is necessary. Sometimes you dig up fascinating insights into how our country works. And though 27-year-old George didn’t exactly set out to unearth official ineptitude, the mapping study led her to a larger investigation, for which she and her team filed RTIs and did extensive footwork at the hospitals that were supposed to be equipped with One-Stop Centres.
Hidden Pockets locates services around sexual and reproductive health in Delhi on a digital map, and the three types of services currently represented are psychotherapists, abortion clinics in Delhi, and HIV and AIDS anti-retroviral therapy centres. “Google Maps is very functional, and often does not contain information on spaces that are a crossover between being public and also very personal,” says George. The idea is to collate information on things that are not shown on a map: places where one can get abortions, places where one can test for STIs , ART treatment for HIVs, free medical services, legal assistance, disabled friendly places. It is also true that the places one can most easily find information about via Google Maps often have a strong commerce angle. There is less incentive to collate detailed information about public health clinics and government hospitals.
Odd and striking as this story is, it is just one of the reasons why collating data and location information about public institutions is necessary. Sometimes you dig up fascinating insights into how our country works.