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“No I Did Not, She Did It”: Guess What’s India’s Favourite Game

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By Pooja Baburaj:

When I was 15, I picked a nasty cat-fight with my younger sibling over the possession of some China-ware with Hannah Montana’s face all over it. As highly anticipated, the china-ware soon became no man’s property as it crashed into a million parts of itself over the marble-laid floor. Before we could bat our lashes, our index finger straightened out at each other almost instinctively and we opened fire — the blame game had officially begun. And it didn’t stop until my mom declared that it was gravity’s fault, not our own. Imagine me as president — what a grand nation I would build with my unassailable skills for counter-attacking blames. Maybe I wouldn’t be just as good since the china-ware was just a utility —something that we have assigned a value for. The games revolutionize if the china-ware is given living characteristics. Would the games still retain its ecstasy in if it were played in desperate human conditions with heavy hoots and Mexican waves cheering us on every time we said something smart? In our pursuit of establishing oratory supremacy, what will the living substance do — wait until our prides battle it out to the break-even point?

blame game

Our government is invincible at blame games. If introduced at Olympics, our politicians would pile on national gold for it. Their latest feat includes the one played amidst the back-drop of the worst rape case I have witnessed in my short life – The Delhi Rape of 12/12. A day after the incident, while checking my ‘whatsapp’ updates I saw most of my contacts upload a plain white background with a large black circle in protest of an unjust act. As I probed into further details, I was devastated at the brutish act survived by the 23-year old paramedic student. And her fault — she was a girl trying to live an independent life. Thank you generation, that’s some assurance for the female population of which I am a part of.

The damage is done — and now they are smashing what survives into smithereens. Despite the intense public uproar, justice is not yet served. Justice still riding on a cycle-rickshaw, caught up in the Mumbai traffic on its way to Delhi. A war of words has broken out between chief minister Sheila Dikshit and Delhi Police over alleged interference by police officers during the recording of the statement of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim. The war of words played out in the open after a complaint by sub-divisional magistrate Usha Chaturvedi that three senior police officers had prevented the video-recording of the victim’s statement. It is also alleged that the police officers wanted SDM to use a questionnaire they prepared. When she refused to do so, sources said, police officials misbehaved with SDM.

Denying the allegations, Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said police never forced any questionnaire on SDM. SDM had complained that police had told her to ask the victim only from the questionnaire the investigators had prepared. As soon as Dikshit complained to Shinde on Monday, police immediately sought recording of victim’s statement before a metropolitan magistrate, which has more legal value. Delhi Police on Tuesday came out with a strong denial and also demanded a high-level probe into the “leakage” of Dikshit’s letter to home minister.

Everything apparently is said and done yet the weak link still continues to persist. What we need is not a temporary resolution; we require a solid solution to this evidently recurrent problem in our society. What we aspire are stronger actions, stronger rights and stronger laws. Despite Capital punishment being legal, it’s carried out only in the ‘rarest of the rare’ cases in India. Imposition of the penalty is not always followed by execution and the case is dragged on until the furore dies out and the government heads to have their cup of coffee assuming that they have to do nothing about it anymore.

Right now, instead of focusing all of their effective time and energy on gaining cue points to debate on who to blame, I’d rather prefer a debate in the parliament in favour of reforms in the self-defence and capital punishment laws. As a citizen of the biggest democracy in the world, I really do hope that the blame games are gone for good and that playtime would indeed be over — ONCE and FOR ALL.

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  1. Charumati Haran

    I think there is absolutely no doubt that if blame game were a sport in the Olympics, our politicians would have brought us the gold. It is truly sad to see that even though there is so much public interest in this particular case, politicians are not doing enough to make amends and reassure the women of the country. It makes me wonder what happens to those cases in which there is no publicity: the poor woman is left to take care of herself as best she can, still paying taxes to a government that did not protect or help her.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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