Daily Archives: 29 November 2012

Cell Phone Proliferation in India has Significant Ramifications on Health of Sex Workers

Click here to view NYTimes article on how mobile phone proliferation in India has been correlated with a rise in HIV/AIDS among sex workers.

There have been great efforts recently to help promote the proliferation of cell phone technology in poorer Indian populations. This policy has led to decreased costs and increased availability of cell phone technology, but ramifications of this increased access and use of cell phones are just being discovered. Policy has lagged behind the emergence of mobile technology, and thus, organizations find themselves struggling to keep up with updating their programs which have been becoming increasingly ineffective in many cases.

This article discusses a particular health issue within the population of sex workers in India. Cell phones have allowed prostitutes to branch out from traditional brothels and start their own business ventures. More individuals are also entering prostitution because the ease of access to mobile phones makes this a viable way for women in difficult economic situations to increase family income. Healthcare organizations have found this new technology very difficult to react to, STD and HIV prevention campaigns have become less effective as tracking and identifying sex workers has become more difficult due to the proliferation of mobile phones.

I found this an interesting case study demonstrating the need for new policy and ideas for combatting STD levels among sex workers in India. This example also provides an insight into the detrimental effects of technology proliferation if context and culture is not taken into account before widespread adoption of a technology by a population.

Evgeny Morozov & the dark side of ICTs

During our class on Tuesday, guest lecturer Adam Papedieck mentioned Evgeny Morozov and encouraged us to check out his TedTalks about the “dark side” of ICTs in developing nations.

Check out the TedTalk by Evgeny Morozov, How the Net Aids Dictatorships, here!   This video greatly compliments the other videos and writings by Morozov and Clay Shirky that my peers have analyzed this week in response to Papedieck’s suggestion.

Morozov criticizes the view that we can promote democracy through the spread of ICTs and the Internet.  In class and many blog posts, we have highlighted crowdsourcing, blogging, Internet access, and the social media as means to promote development, democratize information, and empower marginalized communities.  However, Morozov points out that the Internet perpetuates authoritarianism in many developing nations and defers democracy.

It’s important that consider both the positive and negative outcomes of ICT proliferation.  While we focus on positive uses of ICTs and potential development outcomes, we must be sure not to ignore potential unintended consequences.  This TedTalk is not meant to present a pessimistic view of ICT or to discourage optimistic ICT4D efforts, rather it is meant to encourage realism and encourage us to take consider all possible outcomes.  Morozo ends with this great quote: “We have to stop thinking about the number of iPods per capita, and we can start thinking about ways we can empower intellectuals, dissidents, NGOs, and the members of civil society.”