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Internalizing The Revolution And Battling Personal Hypocrisies

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By Udita Garg:

The Delhi gang rape which created a lot of noise, raised voices, slogans, politics and propaganda not only on the streets of Delhi but also worldwide is a terrible accident of misunderstanding and conforming to the stereotypes. Many rushed to the streets but a lot of movement took place inside homes chilled in winter air and social networking sites flooded with exclamations of shame, disgust, anger and horror. Yes, the latter part was what it was: the anger and the horror. Some were shocked at the brutality of the rape while others almost sick and tired of it, raised slogans “enough is enough.


The appalling sense of tiredness and desperation was visible but revolutions here don’t sustain them. The anger and the conscience do not persist. We lie back with sore throats, tired of raising voices, burning candles and walking without seeing light at the end of the tunnel. The journey is still hardly futile but giving up seems easy and bearable. It is what happened with the movement against corruption. It is what is happening here. Ideologies divide; common goals don’t remain common anymore. The common man is driven out as many take over his voices in disguise of channeling them and taking them to the “right” directions. Who determines right? Revolutions become a farce; a fashion and the real voices are suppressed or misguided. But that is not to say that the upsurge is futile, the anger made up. Nothing is dented and painted about at least that aspect of this protest. But it is not only about women or men, young or old, it is about all of us. That is what the movement was about and is about.

Many people came up with the solutions and suggestions after the incident. Several conducted pamphlets, journals appeared and “aakashwanis” too from gurus and the common people alike. Many said it was about the mind-set, feminists came up with questioning patriarchy, and others came up with an angry reversal of roles. Some said it was the government’s fault and others called it the police’s, others of course blamed the common men and women. When millions of voices shouted “death for the rapists” and others asked for castration, some cried against it in the name of humanity and also that they were no permanent solutions. Talking of solutions, I wonder if there are any. We have grown up in a patriarchal system, so have our ancestors. Changing mind-sets and attitudes is of course an option but it is a long-term goal while increasing security, taking measures such as learning self-defense, increasing safety on the roads etc. are short-term goals. We cannot expect attitudes to change so fast; I don’t see it happening in another fifty years (to say the least). It is true that we must sow the seeds, but we will have to wait enough for the harvest. The definitions of waiting however have to be changed. The wait must be of an active involvement of constantly watering it to grow and not let it get washed away, of throwing the sunlight and not let it be lost in dark shadows and shade. Steps taken could not be only with a long-term vision and not only with a short term too. All need to work towards the same end. Means are important but it is a complex procedure. The path is difficult and the treading of it has to be done very carefully and cautiously because its rope walking on a dark abyss, if we fall now, we really will be dead.

But it is true that seeing the unchanged system and people’s unwillingness to change, one thinks it better to step back. The heart’s light fades. But we must remember that the system is running for a long time and changing it requires years too. It is not a dream that will come true overnight. There will be propaganda around the movement and there will be efforts to contain it. The battle becomes ceaseless in that sense but it is not, history has seen changes happening and will still see them hopefully. I do not want to particularly comment on this incident because I think that nothing can address it adequately. The grief and horror of such a death cannot be expressed in words. But I feel a collective responsibility towards this crime. The guilt and shame is not of every man or every woman or every Indian, it is a loss of humanity. We just cannot blame the rapists for it; I feel her dying within me, within all of us. I say nothing new. Many must have said it before. There are never any new insights when the collective conscience is stirred, we have all looked within us and felt the same. But though conscience and consciousness are shaken up, we must remember that it’s always easy to delude the heart and to give in to desires. Forgetting is easy when the pain is not one’s own. Only an astute and critical evaluation at every step is needed. We surely have lost faith in the political system but both short-term and long term plans and steps are necessary. We can’t look scornfully at people who demand punishment for the rapists and one must also be very careful about existing laws exaggerated and narrowed down to supposedly include the women’s cause that are forwarded to fool the masses. The existing system is not for women- neither the social, political, religious, economic nor legal. We have to make our spaces, seep in through little cracks because that is only what we have for now. We need to make them deeper and larger and sustain them till we build our own concrete homes.

Sexual harassment is an evil we face each day and solutions are not easy because the system has been ingrained in our minds. At last I will say and hope for the best-

‘The journey is long,
But the heart tires not.’

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  1. jayati

    We don’t need new rules, or revolutions and protests. All we need is COURAGE! courage to speak up…. this problem will come to an end when each n every parent
    explains his/her son/daughter the way to behave in school, society. we r given long lectures on how to respect our elders, bt we rarely are taught how to respect ourselves. sex is stiil considered a taboo, no moral education is imparted. We need to change our mindset before expecting it from others.

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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