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

Freedom For Women Comes At A Heavy Price In Our Society

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Priyanka Rath:

An onslaught of images, songs, advertisements and news bits on the television evoke a mixed bag of reactions, mostly of utter disbelief and dismay. The reactions may also sound rehashed as much as the causes do, yet, they bring to surface the blinding faults in us, as a people, who take pride in being civilized. Every society is as developed as its least empowered factor, empowerment being the financial and social stability of an individual. The parameters of every movement speaking of or advocating the equity and equality of women have changed, yet the perception of women has remained unchanged.


The latest promotional ad of a company that makes water heaters, “V-Guard”, shows a woman harassed by eve-teasing in the bus and on the road, who finds a miraculous solution to all of it, a hot bath. First, we intimidated women in the name of family honour and handed them silence, we then told them that equity could be granted, a permissive, evolving society is ready to ‘allow’ them certain freedoms, but, we had riders on it too, we allow you freedom, of movement, of space, of roaming the roads freely without supervision, do not abuse that privilege. Now, we reiterate, through debasing messages sent out through an approving media and all decision makers with the ability to think, analyse and set precedent. The choices these all-powerful people make are disturbing. They choose to flow with patriarchy, with the idea that women are meant to be loathed for being liabilities, to be condescendingly tolerated for their “demands” of “equality”, a concept marked as the bastion of coffee time analyses of the male intellectuals, when the women fail to “handle themselves” alone. The onus is still on a woman, to know and accept her limitations and function without complaints within the fences society graciously sets up for her.

The death of Savita in Ireland, because of the doctor chose to impose his personal, religious belief, neglecting the higher call of nature, logic and medicine alike, of life over death, of letting the family choose, when ethically, he was obliged to save the mother, having determined that the baby would be still-born and had become a threat to the mother’s life. The basic right to life, dignity and choice was taken away from a human being, because another got to play whimsical with his favorite fairy tale. The oldest tool used to subjugate women all over the world, which made them chattel, abhorred objects of temptation and ruin, has once again stood up to assert that a woman has no control over her body or her life. Religion, customs and families determine a woman’s basic, extremely personal right; that of her body. This is all over the media because it demands an international face-saving stance from India as an apparent progressive force, that it will protect its people irrespective of boundaries. There are thousands of women who die every day, because of the same forces, because of this very government which has deprived them of basic amenities like healthcare, water and a livelihood. They are not news worthy, they are not part of a travesty, they are relegated to statistics, because they are the results of policy makers and guardians shrugging their shoulders. They demand no stance because they don’t count.

Shifting paradigms and stagnant mindsets have now created two worlds, one replete with ‘mature’ women who understand the favours bestowed by society in giving them privileges and they never toe the line, the other, of those who have completely misconstrued this liberty and are too far gone, painted in the stereotypes of the ‘uncontrollable, unrepentant, unprincipled’ easy women. We protect rapists, we support and defend those who permeate ideas that women are meant to be objectified and unless, they can drape themselves in layers of shame and honour and walk around like pieces of walls, they are accountable for every depraved man misbehaving with them. Our society now begs a stance. For the lack of civilization and for the utter disregard for a half of the population that passes off for culture.

You must be to comment.
  1. Raj

    Oh please not this “let’s-blame-patriarchy-for-everything” routine again.
    You say the media objectifies women, yet it is women who with full consent participate in such things. That woman in the V-Guard ad , the item girls, Sunny Leone and Sherlyn Chopra etc. all of them do this voluntarily and earn huge bucks. How come none of these “victimized” and “objectified” women ever protest?

    Now regarding the abortion issue, it is quite complex. I often ask feminists (both male and female) if they are pro-choice and all of them say yes, they feel that women must have the choice of abortion. But when I ask if female feticide should be criminalized, they often say yes. What about male feticide, many still say yes that too should be stopped. Now I ask them, are they still pro-choice?
    The right to abortion is very prickly issue as in many circles the fetus is considered a human and thus has rights. Think of their viewpoint in this manner: Would you support child abuse by the mother on the grounds that “She’s the mother, she can do whatever she wants with her kid”.
    Also why should only the woman get to abort, since the man gives half the genetic material for the baby?
    So it’s not all black and white.

    Now coming to the state of India, yes it is deplorable for women. But it is pretty bad for men too. Far more men are killed daily in India than women. Why are most homeless people men and not women? Because it is men who migrate from the villages , live pathetic lives on the streets and send back money to their families back in the villages. To paraphrase your line “There are thousands of men who die every day, because of the same forces, because of this very government which has deprived them of basic amenities like healthcare, water and a livelihood.”

    And what’s this about protecting rapists and promoting the objectification of women? . Sure we have a crappy police and justice system but it does what it can. Also , it is crappy for men too. It isn’t like violence against men cases are resolved quickly by the police and the courts , and that only women’s cases are left pending. We also have rampant promotion of violence against men. Take a look at our movies and you will see how much violence the male hero must endure to be the hero.Why isn’t this ever protested against? Why don’t people(including women) boycott movies that objectify men as disposable self-sacrificial servants and women as sex objects? Should we punish the actors and actresses for their consent to such anti-social activities?

    And as for improving the system, the vast majority of the police force is made of men. Because both the mother and the father think it is OK for the son to be sent for such crappy jobs to support his wife and kids. But it’d be better if both the sexes shared the responsibility of defending the society, especially with weapons like guns , which both men and women can operate, thus making physical strength obsolete.

  2. burntbutteredtoast

    Your starting refrain is enough to show that you haven’t understood the article. When you deny or joke about the deep impact of patriarchy on women’s rights, you play right within the angles of patriarchy. Women are complaining and always blame others for their plight. Answer this, what dictates media trends? What demographic constitutes the audience, be it of advertisements aired during sports events or movies made, including the ones your years are shed for, where the hero is a sacrificial lamb. Where have you ever heard any protest about the potrayal of women in tv serials where, in this age, men are shown to be bread winners while women stay hime, bedecked and to conspire. And most essentially, where on earth in this article did you spot anything saying the oppression of women is more glorified than that of men? Do not draw conclusions from air. And as far as health issues and female mortality goes, you need to read up on latest statistics. And for your own sake, read up on being pro choice, why healthcare for females and babies is of pivotal importance, even in government policy and then comment.

    1. Raj

      When I point out the inconsistencies and the flaws in the arguments, I play into nobody’s hands. I don’t think ALL women are always complaining and blaming men. But some of them definitely do, especially some feminists. And I haven’t denied the fact that a lot of women have it bad in this country. All I have done is pointed out that it’s not all the fault of “patriarchy”. Men have it bad too. I use the word “traditionalism” instead of patriarchy. I think it should go.

      What % of the demographics? If you are talking about movies I say 50-50. Mostly men for sports, mostly women for the TV soaps.
      And regarding protests for those crappy K-series yes there should be. It’s appalling the way they show women. But tell me, don’t Ekta Kapoor and Smriti Irani have the sense to know what they are promoting is crap? And the women who watch that garbage?

      Of course this article is one sided. It’s pretty obvious, in fact, I have added a dose of balance with my comment

      Now regarding abortion, I did NOT take sides. I am pro-choice but I am acutely aware of the arguments the other side makes. However this article doesn’t make any attempt to address it.

  3. Neha Jha

    I do agree with what all u had to say….But, are not going to understand this. They haven’t been there and done that. So, u go ahead with what u wanna say. But, definitely, its useless to expect any help from men.

    1. Raj

      Oh that’s so convenient, right ? It’s the men’s fault as usual. Why not boycott men and everything that men have created ? To start with you can get off the male-invented internet. (PS: I don’t have such crazy ideas , I embrace everything useful my ancestors have given, be they men or women )

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Debarati Sen

By India Development Review (IDR)

By Jyotsna Richhariya

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, 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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below