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While We Were Protesting, Women “Nationwide” Were Being Raped

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By Rohit Singh:

Shame on all the men and women of India who worship goddesses, who have sisters and mothers and are still turning into gutless mute spectators to the devil like treatment that Indian women, are getting nationwide. One has no right to call himself a man if he stoops down to the level of forgetting what a woman’s dignity is. 16 December was the horrific night when a young brave girl saw what devils look like. Today, though she is no more with us, her courage made us see how petty we are and how impotent the law is; how crippled the Indian democracy is when it cannot protect its own women. Though the brutality which the 23 year old girl faced on 16 December, 2012 at the hands of those beasts, is incomparable, it should be noted that similar incidents are on a rise nationwide on an alarming rate. Following is a glimpse of the beastly behaviour against women nationwide:

individual protection

16 December: Rape and brutal assault of a 23 year old girl in a moving bus by 6 men in the national capital.

21 December: A 40-year-old woman was allegedly gang raped in Welcome area of the national capital by three persons.

24 December: A 19 year old girl was molested in a moving auto rickshaw in Bhubaneswar and thrown out when she resisted and raised an alarm. The incident took place when she was going to the Master Canteen area from Barmunda Bus terminal.

25 December: A nine-year-old girl was allegedly molested by her employer in Govindnagar police area in the city of Kanpur on 22 December. Her parents lodged an FIR on 24 December after which the accused was arrested.

27 December: A 17-year-old in Patiala who had been gang-raped committed suicide because the police allegedly embarrassed her and refused to register a case for over a month.

A nine-year-old girl was found murdered with injuries on her face in a banana field in a village near Tirupattur in Vellore district in northern Tamil Nadu on 27 December night. The teen was sexually assaulted on Diwali by two men. Though her family was threatened by the alleged rapists, they decided to file a police case two weeks after the attack.

28 December: An eight-year-old girl was allegedly raped and brutally beaten to death after being lured by a local youth in Bilanda village in Fatehpur district of Uttar Pradesh.

Four youth allegedly abducted and gang-raped an 11-year-old girl for four days in Kanpur.

A school teacher was sexually assaulted in Amroha and a girl was raped in Muzaffarnagar in separate incidents reported from different parts of Uttar Pradesh during the past 24 hours on 28 December evening.

29 December: The accused in a case, Sabanna Nalappa Poojary (24), who is already married, kidnapped a 15-year-old girl from an agriculture field on December 19 in Handarki village in Sedam taluk in Gulbarga district of Karnataka.

A married migrant woman from the district Solan of Himachal Pradesh got gang raped in Amritsar, Punjab.

Fifty-two-year-old Mahasin Ali wakes up with a start every 15 minutes in his ICU cubicle at a hospital. Eyes wide open and gasping for breath, he kept asking for his wife, who was allegedly gang raped and put to death at Sonakharki in Barasat, West Bengal on 29 December evening.

30 December: A traffic police constable was suspended for molesting a girl who came to deposit her challan fee at the traffic police lines in Sector 29 of Chandigarh.

In Singrauli, district in Madhya Pradesh, an 18-year-old young tribal woman labourer working at the construction site of a major power plant project was allegedly gang-raped by four men just a few hours after the state director general of police visited the district on 28 December.

31 December: A girl passenger was allegedly molested by the bus conductor on board a mini bus in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh at day time and in the presence of other passengers. When she raised an alarm, the accused assaulted her and started to push her off the moving bus. It was only when elder sister of the victim begged for mercy that she was spared.

This is just an overlook at the present scenario. A lot many such cases had been reported in the past few months or even before that. Yes, it is the duty of law and the government to protect every girl and woman of the nation but, it is also our duty to start working right from the base of the society. Blaming the law alone is not going to help us out. In order to clean the society, we need to clean it inside out. Even today, in this 21st century, we have people in the society who look down on the victim of rape or sexual assault. There are people who state that women dress provocatively which leads to rapes and sexual assaults. What needs to be immediately done is start teaching the males how to respect women, sympathise and help a victim rather than looking down on her and most importantly, voting for the right electoral candidate when elections come by. Many politicians act irresponsibly when in power and they should not be given another opportunity to crush the integrity of the common public and move over.

In the recent incident, where both ,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit asked the reporters “theek hai?” after recording a statement read from the paper to address the public in accordance with the Delhi gang rape of 16 December, they made two blunders. First, they should not have read the address from the paper. If a person is leading such a huge mass of people and he /she cannot even talk for a brutally assaulted victim without a paper, then maybe it is time for him/her to step down from the seat of power. Second, if the two were really so concerned with the issue, they need not have asked “theek hai”, it just demonstrated that they were not handling the issue properly and were not involved with the public.

Lastly, all those men and women who turn mute spectators when something this atrocious is going on with a fellow human should be ashamed of themselves. One has no right to expect help in their need of time, if one intentionally, does not help another fellow who needs it. Why do you cry when your daughters are assaulted if you turned a blind eye to the assault of someone else’s daughter? Even after all this, if you are asking your daughters to dress to dress up from head to toe and come home early rather than teaching your sons to respect every woman, then you do not deserve a girl child. These barbaric crimes have tested our patience every now and then and this time they spat right in our faces. This is a crime against women and against humanity. What India needs to do right now is change the way the society looks at the victim, raise united voices whenever such crimes are encountered, make sure that the accused does not get away with it and make sure only a clean and right electoral candidate sits high in the seat of power who is genuinely concerned about the public. What the Indian law and government need to do right now is take full responsibility of the people, act strictly against such heinous crimes, set up speedy trials for crime against women and give the worst punishments possible for rapes and sexual assaults so that any man that walks on earth gets a gooseflesh thinking of the punishment.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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