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Radhika Tanwar Murder Case: Will Women Be Able To Live The Way They Want To?

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By Karishma Gaur:

Hundreds of students from various colleges in Delhi took to the streets on Wednesday and protested the killing of Radhika. Radhika Tanwar 20, was a student of Ram Lal Anand College, South Campus. She was shot dead by a stalker on Tuesday morning (8/3/11). The man who allegedly stalked Radhika Tanwar and shot her dead in broad daylight near her college at Dhaula Kuan, has been identified now. (While a hunt has been launched for him, the police have detained two of his friends for harbouring and helping him escape.) The assailant, 25-year-old Ram Singh alias Vijay, hails from Sitapur in Uttar Pradesh. He earlier worked for a fabric unit and lived in Naraina village. He had allegedly harassed 20-year-old Radhika three and a half years ago and was beaten up by her friends and family.

In the past one month, Vijay had followed Radhika at least twice in an attempt to eliminate her. “He felt humiliated after being beaten up in public for harassing Radhika. He nurtured a deep grudge against her and would tell his friends that he would take revenge at the first opportunity.” said the police officials.

Vijay is being beaten up in public, whose fault is it? Surely not Radhika’s !! Then why did he had the deep grudge against her? Pestering a girl in public and demanding for emotional support is stupidity. What if his own sister was being stalked the same way, would Vijay be ever able to bear that? Guys stalk girls and then they expect a polite and intimate response. What is the girl’s fault if a guy is following her? She never asked him to come after her, moreover if a guy likes a girl then it is not necessary that the girl will like him back. Girls/women are not at all safe in such a society.

Radhika’s is the kind of story that makes women realize how vulnerable we really are. It makes us think twice about walking through a darkened parking lot, running a simple errand after dark, or jogging alone. We are targets everyday in ways we don’t even realize. Because of our gender, we must constantly think about how to be safe. Fear proscribes how and where we live, where we walk, where we park, where we sleep, eat and travel. As women, we know there are some things we cannot or rather, should not do, some places we should not go. We’ve seen the movies, we’ve read the articles, we know the statistics. The media is our collective storyteller and the story it tells us over and over again is that there is no safe place not on the roads where we drive, on the streets where we walk, not even in the house where we live. We feel at risk because we are.

It’s even more terrifying especially when we hear stories from our own acquaintances about their experiences: stalking, sexual assaults, battering etc. This kind of behaviour with women is not justified. Gone are those days when women were treated inferior to men. Today’s women is self sufficient and doesn’t need men for anything. Still, she is the soft target for men when ever they want to take out anger or any kind of grudge. If the condition of the society is not improved then every now and then new Radhika or Aarushi or Jessica will die!

The society won’t take women’s fears seriously until men understand our vulnerability. Until men join women and say no to violence, whether it’s on the streets or in our homes, nothing is likely to change. As women, we can take all the precautions imaginable, but the ultimate answer lies within each man and woman and what we will or will not tolerate as individuals, as communities and as a nation to allow our daughters, our sisters, our mothers and all the women in our lives to live without fear.

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  1. Rohan Singh

    It’s a contentious issue that is now decades old for the Indian society. Unfortunately, we still haven’t discovered a way to deal with the menace… or could it be simply that- there exists no solution to this toxemia; probably male chauvinism is very deep and very ill rooted in our culture! But then there’s got to be a solution; every problem has one!!
    I believe the answer lies in harsher retribution and an even stricter implementation… doesn’t this too, like everything else boils down to good governance, moral policing(not talking of the Bajrang Dal or Shiv Sena goons), a clean judiciary and of course to educating-the-masses!!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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