This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Secondary Citizens

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Anshul Kumar Pandey:

When a government fails to protect the honour and dignity of its women, it not only degrades them to the status of second class citizens, but in this process, it also reduces the constitutional provisions guaranteeing various rights and freedoms to all its citizens, to sorry figments of imagination.

In the last one month, over 19 different cases of rape have been recorded in the northern state of Haryana, which is infamous for having the lowest sex ratio among all the states in India. The rapists include teenagers, security personnel, neighbours or just random strangers. Like the rapists, the political opinion regarding these rapes has been varied and bizarre. Khap Panchayats, the rural kangaroo courts that seek to maintain the “honour” of the community even when it involves justifying “honour killings”, came out with the bizarre theory of lowering the age of marriage for girls to “protect” them from such incidents. Lending an intellectual bent to this ridiculous piece of “suggestion”, Om Prakash Chautala, the former Chief Minister and the head of the powerful opposition party INLD, explained:

Look back at the past, the Mughal sultanate in this country used to misbehave with women and used to kidnap them. In order to prevent that people started getting their young girls married early so that no one does anything wrong to them… I have seen girls getting married at tender age; the same situation is back again.” (source)

Another Congress leader, Dharamveer Goyal, eager to present his understanding of the whole scenario, suggested that 90 per cent of rapes were consensual:

The girl gets into an affair with a boy and she goes with him without knowing that he is of criminal mindset. It’s not the state government which is responsible for rapes, in fact in most of the cases its consensual sex. In 90 per cent cases, the girls and women initially accompany boys on their own and are later trapped in gang rape by criminals” (source)

Apart from being sexist, horribly insidious and callously irresponsible, these comments are also a crude reminder of the mentality towards rape, molestation and other such crimes directed towards a female’s body in particular and the attitude towards women in general. To then expect a safe and secure environment where women have an equal right to opportunity to achieve their desired goals would be to expect too much.

Such mindsets and attitudes are not unique to the Indian polity. In fact, these are in sync with the phenomenon of global misogyny that the world has witnessed in recent days. Just day before yesterday, the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard thundered in the Australian House of Representatives against the Leader of Opposition Tony Abbott, who had ironically demanded the resignation of the Speaker of the house of representatives (after he was found to have sent sexist texts to a former staff member), when he himself had been going around passing loose remarks about the Prime Minister and the women in Australia as a whole. In the United States, amid the flurry of election campaign, Rep. Todd Akin, in a bid to endear himself to the voters, earned the wrath of the media when he suggested that “legitimate rape” rarely resulted in pregnancy. Rep. Roger Rivard wasted no time in jumping to Akin’s bandwagon when he opined in a newspaper that “some girls rape easy”.

The irony amid all this slur of misogyny being vomited by political representatives from all across the spectrum was that just days before, on October 11, the world had celebrated its first “International Day of the Girl Child”, which reaffirmed the global pledge to “end gender stereotypes, discrimination, violence, and economic disparities that disproportionately affect girls.” In the light of these remarks, the celebration seems like a bad satire on the state of women all over the world.

One of the victims of rape in Haryana was just 7 years old. In any other part of the world, even in Australia and the United States, this single incident would have been enough to shame a government to death. However, in our country, this is just another rape, just another flash of bulbs and we are back to normal. It is with profound shame that one admits that when a woman is raped, it is not only an assault on her body, but a sad commentary on the vulnerability of women in an unsecure and predatory society and the government’s inability and also collusion, in removing that sense of insecurity.

Sexual assault of any kind snatches away from a woman, her inalienable right to pursue her desired objectives in life, by traumatizing her psychologically and shaming her in the society. It reduces her chances of being treated with respect, with dignity, with equality and without any prejudice. A rape increases her chances of getting pregnant and burdened with the responsibility of motherhood, without fulfilling the pre requisite avenues in life which would ensure a better and secure childhood and future for her children. In effect, a rape also snatches away the rights of an individual who has not yet been born.

The National Crime Records Bureau statistics suggest that there is an incident of rape every 22 minutes in the country and that instances of rape have gone up by 873 per cent between 1971 and 2011. Seen as crude statistics, these mindboggling numbers only makes one feel helpless and incompetent. However, the sheer gravity of the situation demands no less than a sincere effort to beef up the law and order and increase awareness about the rights and liberties of the womenfolk. Such an effort would need to attack, first and foremost, the institutions and practices which subordinate women to men.

The sense of complacency and neglect with which issues of gender equality and gender rights are treated only signals a demise of gender sensitivity in Indian politics and call for drastic action. The prevailing state of affairs in the country can only be summed up in the words of Faiz who said:

“Nisar mein teri galiyon kay aye watan kay jahan
Chali hai rasm kay koi na sar utha kay chaley
jo koii chaahanewaalaa tawaaf ko nikale
nazar churaa ke chale, jism-o-jaan bachaa ke chale”
(My salutations to thy sacred streets, O beloved nation!
Where a tradition has been invented- that none shall walk with his head held high
If at all one takes a walk, a pilgrimage
One must walk, eyes lowered, the body crouched in fear)

[box bg=”#fdf78c” color=”#000″]About the author: Anshul Kumar Pandey is the Editor at Large at Youth Ki Awaaz. He also blogs at semicomma.blogspot.com. To read his other posts, click here.[/box]

 

You must be to comment.
  1. girlchild

    Comforting ourselves by quoting other instances of misogyny in the world doesn’t change the particular prevalence of violence against women in India.

    Also, just to be clear, rape happens to both men and women. The incidences of rape against men might be less and under-reported, but they do exist.
    Sexual assault is a violent crime. It doesn’t (or shouldn’t) “snatch away from a women” any kind of honor (I’m paraphrasing). You’re reproducing another kind of misogyny here. A type of misogyny where a women’s virginity (“honor”) is her best virtue. A type of misogyny where rape only happens to and humiliates women.
    The sheer incidences of rape don’t just demand a “beefing up of the law” or increasing awareness of the rights of women. It demands that society in general and men in particular understand and change their attitudes towards women and towards rape, recognising that rape and sexual assault are unacceptable.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Ankur Kumar

By Prince Promit

By Pragati Sharma

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        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.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        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.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below