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Why Is The Patriarchal Structure Working Overtime To Silence Women’s Right To Sexual Pleasure?

More from Anju Anna John

By Anju Anna John:

It started in the Genesis, where the good Lord decided that Adam needed a ‘helper’(1), and thus made ‘Eve’. Adam on seeing Eve said, “…she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.” And there we see the first time when a woman was put in ‘her rightful place’. History is replete with instances when women played out the roles of harems, concubines and sex slaves; varying in degree, but all just different forms of subjugation at the end of the day!

Forget the Bible, the harems or even the strip clubs of the present day. Even the very institution of marriage that strives to unite man and woman seem to be promoting male sexual dominance in our patriarchal society. Married women are looked at primarily as an object to satisfy male sexual pleasure. The Justice Verma Committee Report on Amendments to Criminal Law suggested the removal of the exemption of marital rape which was premised on the notion that marriage was proof of a woman’s irrevocable consent “to have intercourse with her husband at his whim”. However, the government rejected this proposal and justified its move by stating that such an amendment “has the potential of destroying the institution of marriage.” An ideal wife according to our Indian culture is duty-bound to let her husband have intercourse with her. Thus, religion and culture also play a role in the objectification of women in the sexual context.

right to pleasure

It is in this context that I would like to discuss the matter of women’s right to pleasure. Sexual pleasure has been defined as the “physical and/or psychological satisfaction and enjoyment one derives from any erotic interaction”. In the public domain, sexual rights have generally focussed on the negative consequences of indulging in certain sexual practices rather than its relation to recreation and pleasure. However, sexual rights are not just important in terms of reproductive rights but also with regard to gender equality.

It is worth considering that, in many Indian languages, the words used to refer to female genitalia often double up as swear words of the vilest kind (I refer here, to words like MC, BC). I was once at a meeting regarding Women’s Health Issues, where a Frenchman working for the UNICEF lamented about the difficulty in educating women in their local languages about Women’s Health considering the fact that there are no appropriate words to refer to the female genitalia in a pleasant way.

However, this problem is not restricted to India. The closest male-equivalent to a ‘nymphomaniac’ would perhaps, be ‘satyriasis’, but that word is rarely used. Instead, we refer to excessive sexual desire in men with terms like ‘womaniser’ or ‘playboy’ that almost seem to commend such behaviour. Prostitution too is largely an industry that caters to male sexual needs, gigolos are still a rare concept.

The patriarchal structure has worked overtime to silence women’s right to pleasure. In this setting, a male approaches coitus as a ‘conquest’; an act of gaining power. And therefore, it leaves the female playing the role of the ‘object’ of the conquest and thereby, losing power(2). Traditionally, porn has also gone on to further this perspective by placing importance on the male climax, portraying sex as something men do to women, and focusing on the ‘male gaze’ whereby the scenes are shot in a manner that it focuses on the female body and allows for the male viewer to imagine himself with that woman.

However, in recent times, there has been a surge in feminist porn that seeks to portray sex in a feminist fashion. This way, the viewers get to see genuine female sexuality. Producers of these films focus on the actors’ entire body, and encourage these actors to enjoy themselves. This way, the porn footage is not only catering to the average heterosexual male, but to the female audience too.

A discussion on women’s right to pleasure would be incomplete without a discussion on orgasm. The clitoris, located above the vaginal opening is the only organ in the human body that is solely for the purpose of sexual pleasure. However, there are more than 125 million girls and women today, living across 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East who have been subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) in an attempt to reduce a woman’s libido and therefore, curb her from indulging in ‘illicit’ sexual intercourse . Here again, we see a male-dominated society that looks at women as sex-toys that men use to reach their climax. Once that is attained, they do not really care about the ‘needs’ of the ‘sex-toys’ (or much worse, they think the sex toy should not enjoy the act even remotely).

Further proof of this would be the fact that there are various drugs available in the market to treat male sexual dysfunction (Viagra being the first and more ubiquitous one of the lot!), but not a single one to treat female sexual dysfunction(3). If men and women really are equal in the society, it is high time that they came up with medicines to address the woman’s need for a satisfying sexual life.

However, it is not all bad for women today. More and more women are beginning to talk about sex with their partners and discussing what they want in bed. Men are not the only ones who walk out of one-night stands today, a fair number of women are doing the same. The changes maybe small, but they cannot be ignored. So, for the men out there who care to listen, women like it hot too!

References:

1. Genesis 2:18
2. Jennifer Oriel, ‘Sexual pleasure as a human right: Harmful or helpful to women in the context of HIV/AIDS?’, Women’s Studies International Forum.
3. A Door Opens for Women’s Right to Sexual Pleasure, Let’s Hope the FDA Doesn’t Close It

You must be to comment.
  1. Sakshi

    I read an article addressing this concern for the first time. i like it!…

    1. Anna John (@blah_18)

      Thank you, Sakshi… I shall try to work on more topics that need to be talked about. 🙂

  2. Chewan Rai

    Nice take A. A. J. 🙂
    Important Issue Illustrated in an Interesting way !
    Keep up the good work

    Chewan Rai
    Nepal

    1. blah_18

      Thanks, Chewan! 🙂

  3. Jitu

    How do we ‘grant permission’ to so called women’s right to sexual pleasure?? I don’t understand dat part..It is easy to talk blah blah blah… do suggest ways of improving the present system… And as far as i am concerned, May be women can take this right for granted… or let me put it this way.. Majority of the women who deserves such sort of a right usually enjoys it!! For the ones who are not bold enough- Go study to live the way you want it!!!

    1. blah_18

      Hello Jitu,

      It is true, right to sexual pleasure is not something that can be explicitly granted. And many a time, are in a position to speak up for their rights. However, the fact remains that, and what I essentially try to bring out in this article is the ways in which men have ensured that women never really get a chance to demand these rights (take for instance the idea of female genital mutilation, or the religious and cultural institutions driving in a certain concept about gender roles).

      Lastly, we are all trying to figure out what we want from our lives, and most of us are trying to realize our ‘wants’ within the parameters of what is acceptable in the society that we live in. And the truth is, none of us has it completely figured out!

  4. trojanwalls

    You’re going to get some flak in the comments about this piece but man, am I glad that someone wrote such a well worded article on the subject. Also, I didn’t know about the feminist porn movement. It’s interesting how it developed and it encompasses the interests of not just women but trans people, queer and gay people too. I understand the arguments that damn the porn industry but the fact is that it’s not going away anytime soon, and in the meanwhile the only audience the industry targets are cisgendered men who end up with bizarre expectations during real sex, acute porn addiction and a twisted idea of how men should look at women.

    1. blah_18

      I am completely with you on your point about mainstream porn! I almost started out on elaborating a sub-point on how mainstream porn could be partly to blame for the increased atrocities to women in real life, but that was an entire topic on its own and seemed to move away from the topic at hand…

  5. shreya

    Well expressed. Something that needs to be known, heard and spread across.

    1. blah_18

      Thank you, Shreya! 🙂

  6. krishna prakash

    YEAH WHY NOT THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXPRESS AND SPEECH , “FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT” ?, SEX IS A DIVINE ACTIVITY, IN WHICH WHO MAINTAIN IT’S SANCTITY; OF COURSE FORCEFUL IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. WHEN BOTH THE PARTIES INDULGED IN IT HAVE EQUALLY ENJOYED IT TO THERE FULLEST AND HAVE DRIVEN THE URGE TO BE RIDING ON THE WAVES OF IT ” SURFING ” IT’ S SITUATION UNTILL THE CULMINATION OF THEIR BODIES HAPPEN TO BRING OUT THE OFFSPRING OR NOT GOING WAYWARDLY TO EXTINGUISH THE FLAME OF URGE WITHIN THEM , WHEN A SINGLE PARTNER IS A BEST WAY TO PLAY SAFE SHOULD BE ULTIMATE.

    1. blah_18

      maybe not a fundamental right, but yes, sex has been a taboo topic for far too long! We need to change that. We need to stop looking sex as a sin.

  7. puru tyagi

    Amazing read!!! Looking forward to reading more of your articles

    1. blah_18

      Thank you, Puru! Hope I can come up with many more pieces that are both socially relevant and well-worded. 🙂

  8. Gaurav

    when indians like to argue their case they tend to make mistakes. first they fail to specify what is bothering them. second they choose illogical supporting arguments and finally they often digress from the topic that they originally wanted to explore. this article is an example of how indians usually tend to posit their opening arguments, following up with illogical supporting arguments and finally digressing from the main topic which means they almost always end up making no sense or making little impact to the heart but no impact to the brain of an individual.

    Let us understand what the writer is trying to say here. the writer like all indian women wants to ask a simple question and the question is why do men get to decide who will initiate sex, with whom, when and how will it be done? instead of asking this question in a straightforward manner the writer actually starts with an illogical opening statement where she quotes the bible of all the books. is the writer not aware that religion is the weakest manifestation of the male perspective. in simple language the reason why man built religion was to propagate, sustain and perpetuate his world view, convictions, beliefs, prejudices and ensure his needs are met. so the next question is why did women not develop a clear understanding of their own needs and why did women not do anything to counter the male perspective or try to spew forth their own ideas to ensure they got what they wanted. I will come to that question in a little while. first let us go through the rest of the article.

    The writer goes on to build her case by saying that there have existed harems, concubines and sex slaves. the keywords harem, concubines and sex slaves are decent looking supporting arguments but they show that the writer wants to focus on blaming men for their excesses rather than asking the most important question. why do women not initiate relationships, sex or marriage? what are women waiting for? if women have deliberately chosen to not initiate sex or relationships then why blame men. they are simply going to fill the void. men found it easy and took on the responsibility to decide who, when, how and if. the reasons are not very difficult to understand. but let us go through the rest of the article first.

    the writer than gives a good argument that marriage is also another way to perpetuate male dominance. but the fact remains that women can hardly blame men. how many women have actually initiated a relationship. women have left the arena all to the man and made an unceremonious exit altogether. no wonder men find it easy to make and break rules at convenience. look at the women in the west. the women have sex when they want to. I am not suggesting that you go on a rampage. but the bottom line is western women have successfully made a place for themselves as human beings who have needs that need to be met. women take full responsibility for initiating sex and do not cry foul later for instance.

    in another paragraph the writer comes up with a very silly argument. intact the writer says that the hindi word for female genitalia is MC, this shows the ignorance of the writer. let us put things in perspective. The real word for vagina in hindi is “yoni”, the slang is ch*** and the full form of MC is actually an abuse and has nothing to do with the real word for female organ. just like in english the slang is pussy. then the writer goes on to digress and starts to raise issues of female genital mutilation and human rights abuse which has nothing to do with the core question of why cannot women initiate sex and why are they finding it difficult to approach men for sex and relationships. is it just conditioning or are women reluctant and would rather play second fiddle? now that is food for thought

    1. blah_18

      This ‘writer’ (who is also a proud Indian woman, who stands up for her rights), is thoroughly flattered by your stringent consideration of the many points that the writer has discussed in her piece. Therefore, she will try to tackle some of the points raised by you in your comment.

      First of all, the writer’s essential question is not why men initiate sex, but why the males of the society have been suppressing women’s right to pleasure (and that is one form of suppression that is rarely talked about, but often the form of suppression through which men ensure that they remain on top!).

      The writer then chose to begin her piece by quoting the bible because, as you rightly pointed out, religion was invented by man to propagate and sustain his world views under the guise of ‘God’s will’. As for the question on why women generally don’t initiate sex, I believe the comment above by Koni is an apt response. And women in the West may be more vocal about their rights, but that does not mean that they do not fall victim to some of the situations that the writer has pointed out in this piece. Also, the writer was indeed referring to the slang for female genitalia, the true meanings of which she refuses to discuss on this portal. Lastly, the reference to female genital mutilation and human rights violation in this context would become clearer once the reader tries to understand what exactly FGM does to inhibit female sexual pleasure. Thus, proving just how far the patriarchal society is willing to go to suppress women’s right to sexual pleasure.

    2. gaurav

      women in india are fighting for more rights but still you continue to avoid the simple question. why are indian women not making an effort to build an alternative to the patriarchy? indian women have not taken a single step towards building an alternative to the existing systems, remember , till the time you cannot come up with an alternative the situation will remain the same. best of luck

    3. Aprajita

      Indian women are making an effort to build an alternative to patriarchy, that is why you can see all these posts, blogs, videos etc. We are making an effort, but it isn’t possible until there is mass participation, I mean women and men from all walks of life, all areas of the country, all parts of society. It isn’t possible until there is a change in the mindset of everyone.
      Since ages, men have used all means of suppression against women to ensure they remain on top. Every time women got an opportunity to prove themselves, they have done so, so don’t go on saying that women don’t make an effort to bring down the patriarchal society. Women have made efforts, still do make efforts, but they go for waste because of perpetrators of this patriarchal society.
      Every time a woman raises her voice, that voice is silenced; sometimes by acid attacks, threats, publicly molesting her, or rape. Physical strength doesn’t give men the right to use it against women, neither is it their duty as ‘men’ to protect women.
      Instead of trying to be ‘real men’, it’s better to be a good human.

    4. gaurav

      think logically, women are merely defending attacks … when a man throws acid at a woman she files a complaint, when a man rapes or molests and threatens, a woman will file a complaint. all these are examples of fending off an attack not doing anything constructive. to make things easy to understand let us look at another example… let us say that I want to do something in life but people keep bullying me or attacking me or defaming me… what should i do ? if i spend my life countering those charges then I am simply defending every attack. but I also need to build an environment where I am not under constant attack where people value me and do not feel threatened by me. that would be a start. women are simply venting out and highlighting their grievances … they are not even proposing a solution , forget about coming up with constructive ideas to engage different segment of society … can you name one segment of society that is positively predisposed towards women. if a woman is driving a car and her car breaks down , even another woman will not stop to help her. it is not enough to simply steel yourself against attacks, it is high time women get into second gear and propose alternative ways to resolving issues and addressing concerns that people might have and at the same time go on the offensive against those who simply do not consider women as human or at least not equal. for example have women ever voted en bloc? answer is no…. do women understand the games that politicians play? again no….there are many more questions and you will find women themselves on the wrong side… no need to feel bad, just a wake up call… if you need more info let me know. as of now women are not doing anything…

    5. gaurav

      after gangrape of nirbhaya many women came forward and but did it culminate into anything concrete. nope….. till 1900 women in US and europe were happy finding the right guy but after the two world wars western women made serous effort to reach out to those who were neutral as well neutralise those who were hostile.. have indian women started yet …. nope again…. have indian women built a single institution, pressure group or think tank which can take concrete steps… correct me if i am wrong but most of the urban women went back home after some time and are happy to have dominos cheese burst pizza with dollops of soft cheese bursting at the seams with the aroma of oregano …. how many womens group are really making a concerted effort to infiltrate the bureaucracy, legislative, judiciary and media….there is no long term strategy… look at the sikhs in canada… look at the indian american community or jewish community in US…. are we learning yet…

    6. Gaurav

      to build an alternative to any setup you need to do more than just write blogs / articles. thats all

    7. ItsJustMe

      There is literally no use campaigning online. And most of the articles including this one blames patriarchy when it is actually women who tolerate all these nonsense and keep on avoiding any kind of progress in their sexuality and sexual pleasure. Majority of women does not initiate sex. Why not? Who is stopping them from that? They have trouble communicating what they want in bed, because of what? No the men dont meet every week to discuss how suppress women’s right to sexual pleasure. Women fail to communicate when it comes to sex. They need to asked asked and asked repeatedly until they finally come out and say what exactly they like. How the hell are men supposed to give them what they want, when they dont know for sure what they want? It is pathetic that you people find a reason to blame men every time. We men do not have a 5 year plan to oppress women in every aspect of their lives. On the matter of sexual pleasure, we will be happy to see some more communication and involvment

    8. Gaurav

      you have said – “the true meanings of which she refuses to discuss on this portal”
      no need to get defensive, and learn to accept your mistakes and correct them.. female sexual organ is not MC (ma***c*** in hindi) means motherf***** in english and that does not point to female sex organ at all. hope better sense prevails, always remember that a writer may make mistakes but should never shy away from accepting them. and if you refuse to discuss/answer your own ideas then you are doing a great disservice to yourself

      Also FGM is a policy prevalent in some sections/communities, no point in generalizing, either do not raise issues or learn to discuss them in good spirit. if you are unable to expound your idea or provide suitable arguments that means you are either having difficulty expressing yourself or something is holding you back, in both cases you need to over come your inertia and find ways to make your point.

      and no Koni’s attempt to refute does not hold ground either.

    9. Gaurav

      I asked a simple question – my question was why do women do not initiate relationships ? you said Koni has already answered this question, so to make it easy to understand ….. I am going to start with my question and then I am going to pick a statement made by koni and the give my explanation to it, feel free to add your understanding about it.

      example one :
      Gaurav says —- why do women not initiate relationships
      Koni said : Speaking only of India: Marriage is a license to have sex in India. Sex outside marriage is frowned upon.—–
      Gaurav says : that is all the more reason for women to initiate sex so that they have a say in how a relationship pans out for example recently a woman who was married had a relationship with a young boy who she used to tutor, this is exactly what I am talking about, women need to learn how to break away from a mould rather than continue to subscribe to it.

      Gaurav says —- why do women not initiate relationship
      Koni says : Only heterosexual married couples can have sex.
      my statement : are you suggesting that you are a lesbian. because than it would make sense. because lesbian cannot initiate sex if only heterosexual sex is allowed…

      Gaurav says —- why do women not initiate sex
      Koni says —-Sex does not equal orgasm. Condoms are a thing nobody sees or talks about in Indian households.
      Gaurav says : that is all the more reason to initiate sex because if you are not getting what you want then you should do it your way instead of silently letting others ruin it.

      Gaurav says —- why do women not initiate relationships
      Koni says —— Baby 1- girl – abort. Baby 2- girl – kill Baby 3- girl- throw in dustbin baby 4- boy age of parents – 60. No. of times they had sex = 5.
      Male orgasms = 5, Female Orgasms = 1.
      Gaurav says —- again all the more reason for women to not subscribe to marriage and instead initiate her own relationship so that she can play a role in deciding where the relationship goes….. how many children are born, etc

      Gaurav says —- why do women not initiate sex
      Koni says —- If you knew this was going to happen, would you as a woman initiate sex or think of it as pleasurable ?
      Maybe not.
      Gaurav says : if you knew that this was going to happen, then you should never go for arranged marriage , If I were a woman I would surely initiate my own relationships and so that I never end up in the above situation.

      Gaurav says : why do women not initiate sex or relationships ?
      Koni says – Have you been educated about masturbation, principles of female orgasm, Kamasutra or anything useful besides sanitary napkins ?
      No.
      Gaurav says : even men have not been educated about sex or relationships but should the men not initiate relationships then?

      Gaurav says : why do women not initiate sex or relationships ?
      Koni says ——– If you are 15 and you are married to a man who is 31 years old – Also known as child marriage, is the sex during marriage not equal to rape ? Yes. Does the Government think so? No.
      Are Indian women free to embrace their sexuality and derive pleasure from it?
      No.
      As an individual can you enjoy sex any which way you want to?
      Yes.
      So forget about everything and don’t get married till you’re mature enough to know what you want from life.
      Being a woman is not about getting married when you’re barely 18. Being a woman isn’t about being perfect. Marry or live-in with someone or live alone. Have 10 children and raise them well or don’t have children. If you are a woman I say do whatever you want to – stand up for yourself.
      Seek pleasure, there is nothing shameful in masturbation or having pre-marital sex as long as you are using protection

      Gaurav says : thank you Koni, finally Koni agrees with my point of view and tells women to find their own way and not follow the beaten path. that is exactly the point

    10. Dalji

      blah_18 ji where in India have you come across women is not allowed to have sexual pleasure without women’s consent for pleasure our population would not have increased so fast by the way women’s advances to a man is not as crude as man but her advances are mooost subtle way of enticing a man — she hides most of the things that a man seeks ( because if it is always visible man may not like the to view it often) and what is visible like eyes ,lips and for that matter whole body entices the man so that hormones start flowing in him and becomes a slave of that Devi — divine creation — one has to clap with both hands

    11. Vishnu

      @Gaurav i agree with you 100% Feminists and so called “Social justice warriors” are just reactionary and don’t understand the big picture.. blaming men is silly.. both men&women are part of the society and both are equally responsible for sexism that happens.

      The more we shield women and pretend like they’re valuable treasures instead of normal human beings the more we continue to be a part of the problem.

  9. koni

    Speaking only of India: Marriage is a license to have sex in India. Sex outside marriage is frowned upon. Only heterosexual married couples can have sex.
    Sex does not equal orgasm. Condoms are a thing nobody sees or talks about in Indian households.

    Baby 1- girl – abort. Baby 2- girl – kill Baby 3- girl- throw in dustbin baby 4- boy age of parents – 60. No. of times they had sex = 5.
    Male orgasms = 5, Female Orgasms = 1.

    If you knew this was going to happen, would you as a woman initiate sex or think of it as pleasurable ?
    Maybe not.
    Have you been educated abou masturbation, principles of female orgasm, Kamasutra or anything useful besides sanitary napkins ?
    No.
    If you are 15 and you are married to a man who is 31 years old – Also known as child marriage, is the sex during marriage not equal to rape ? Yes. Does the Government think so? No.
    Are Indian women free to embrace their sexuality and derive pleasure from it?
    No.
    As an individual can you enjoy sex any which way you want to?
    Yes.
    So forget about everything and don’t get married till you’re mature enough to know what you want from life.
    Being a woman is not about getting married when you’re barely 18. Being a woman isn’t about being perfect. Marry or live-in with someone or live alone. Have 10 children and raise them well or don’t have children. If you are a woman I say do whatever you want to – stand up for yourself.
    Seek pleasure, there is nothing shameful in masturbation or having pre-marital sex as long as you are using protection.

    1. blah_18

      Haha… That was a very interesting way to drive the point home. And yes, women should be able to decide on all the things you talk of in the final paragraph, but that is rarely the case… Let’s hope it changes for the better. And soon!

  10. PB

    First I would like to congratulate the writer for scribing this so well. It’s also good to see the mention of FGM, as many people are not aware about that.

    I wonder some times the fact that men spend such amount of time thinking, following, pursuing etc women .. but when it comes to equality ..there’s a society … then there are rules .. then there are marriage .. then there is dowry .. then there is female foeticide .. then there is wives and in laws … and after missing many other structures .. there comes sexuality.

    The whole premises of marriage as I understand points to economic union and sustainability. All rules are composed around these simple factors.
    & to keep things in control there must be a ceteris paribus .. which in this case are women and their traits .. But as it is evident that society is iterative in nature and what makes up all this circus are not Artificial Intelligence components .. there were aberrations and deviations throughout history … only it is much more exposed now.

    I read a quote some where which read “Sex is the start … not the end” (some thing like that). This is so true. We are all supposed to be born equal. But the time we get conceived various restrictions starts adding up and as immature kids we were to follow what is taught and advised till we become mature (theoretically). But when we become mature we still follow (majority, otherwise world would have been a different place) what was imposed on us for our own good, when we are conceived. Tradition, culture, legend if I may call it.

    “No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor” .. I came across these and such a fab to way to express. I am a guy and I don’t know how to cook food and do other tasks on my own. If I would have been a girl .. I would have known all the tricks (highly probable — mom will make me learn) .. So what do I do .. Once members in my family said .. ‘get married, it’s high time ! I said .. I’v a big heart and I cannot share my love with a single person for eternity ! Response came — Talk some sense .. your mom is growing old .. she needs some one to help her ! I replied — i will hire maid for all kind of family chores .. why get married ? c’mon won’t u let your your aging mother see her grand children’s !!! —

    I am not a feminist and I have some effects of patriarchy embedded in me. But I also have a brain and conscience and maturity to weigh these rules and shit’s.

    All are equal. Vindictiveness should be avoided while restoring balance (it will take some time, maybe a little more time).

  11. MK

    “.. I am the sexual desire which leads to pro-creation. ” – Lord Krishna, Bhagvad Gita, Chapter 10th.

    Though He was talking about procreation, and not sexual pleasures- I fail to understand how pre-maritial sex is considered such big an evil by Hindus when their own Holy books have such vivid discription – take Kama Sutra also into consideration.

    And please dont tell me He was only talking about males! Women , probably, are more sensitive to feelings of all kinds be it pain, agony, possesiceness, ..or sexuality.

    1. gaurav

      kamasutra is not a holy book, but i can understand that you have severe prejudice or are completely ignorant. please check facts.

      bringing religion into the picture is a digression from the main topic. that means that instead of focusing on the merit of the argument you would rather discuss aspects which are easy targets. if you are looking for a punching bag then religion is the easiest punching bag you will get… that is what i pointed out earlier in my first post

    2. MK

      I never said Kama Sutra is ‘also’ a Holy Book or something. I only expected my readers to take it into ‘consideration’ , since it is very much a part of Hindu texts.

      I am sorry if my inclusion of religion distracted anybody from the key debate/issue.

      However, born into India, and talking about pre and post maritial sex – you simply cant ignore the role played by religion, rituals and traditions. Also religion is a major reason for patriarchy, I believe.

      I might be derailed from the main discussion, but that is what my16-years- and-something old mind questioned, after reading this article.

    3. Arpan

      Have you studied even one upanishad or ved to set your “beliefs” on religion ? Or have you just observed “popular culture” and that too in a limited way ? Hinduism is not against pre-marital sex per-say, rather in it’s highest form “Vedant” it says that talk of good and evil is gibberish, there are no sins..only mistakes. Like Buddhism, it pertains to developing wholesome states of mind which are not enslaved by desires(sexual and otherwise), thus leading to true happiness in the long term. It advocates self mastery(celibacy is one of the primary means to attain it, but celibacy is not an end in itself). Unlike the limited Western perspective, with some ppl advocating violence and sex and will to conquer as signs of a strong self-willed person..and some becoming prophets of non violence(not thinking of the wider contexts where it might lead to greater destruction than violence), true hinduism calls for a synthesis: An ideal man is not only an ace in conquering but also an ace in renouncing-he is bound by nothing. Janak (Sita’s father) is created as the symbol of attaining the best of both Conqueror and Sannyasi in one man

    4. Arpan

      PS: Pre marital sex ? there are enough grounds to oppose it’s rise in the society. It definitely doesn’t create a generation which is patient, self-controlled and discerning. Has it solved any problems in the West ? rather new problems of teenage pregnancies, high use of oral contraceptives by young girls(definitely harmful) and splitting up of the societal fabric are ensuing. What needs to be done is not promoting it amongst women by not calling them “sluts” so as to equal the score with men, but condemning it both amongst men too. To rectify our own society we need not blindly import the Western model, as West didn’t blindly import ours. West rose because it learnt the best from everywhere- when we derided yog and vedic mathematics as ancient gibberish, West took it up and studied it systematically. And we, being inveterate apes accepted our own ancient innovations after they were approved by the West. Similarly we need to disern what we learn from others. Modernity does not mean accepting what’s new just because it’s new and rejecting what’s old just because it’s old, it means standing back and rationally analyzing before rejecting and accepting. One should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The most hilarious points being advocated today is, not to take into account whether a girl is “virgin” or not before marriage. I would say, judge a man too, that would be the true rectification. It ofcourse is a hypocrisy if I sleep around with girls before marriage and expect my wife to be a virgin, but if I have lived a life of self discipline and went by the norms my parents taught me(which my mind didn’t find illogical, though the selfish desire in my heart might have) so as to honour their trust in my while I lived on their bread, under their roof, I certainly would expect my wife-to-be to share my views and atleast be honest about her past(which even these westernized cultural elites would consider an “ethical duty”). Yes, imposing such views on a person is not correct, but wanting a person who subscribes to them is surely fine.

    5. Anees kinikar

      Gaurav, I totally agree with you, The author and the so called feminists are confused what they really want. you are wasting your time trying to get logic out of it.
      1) Are they not getting orgasms or pleasure in the sexual act, please talk to your partner, there are also medicines for female like the male viagra for ex a herbal medicine called Femone does the job
      Or better visit a doctor and take professional help. I am sure all sensible men would pay heed and listen to his wife or partners requirement provided you talk to him, otherwise he will never know.
      2) Porn is something which i feel is demeaning yourself and your partner may it be for male porn and female porn. Its just insulting the capabilities of your partner because its not real, its like a movie where one man beats up 10 guys single handedly
      I dont really get the point what you want to achieve, Porn i feel is for people who don’t have partners and want to help themselves, which also has very harmful effects when you do get a partner.
      3) Female genitalia mutilation happening in any culture /society is completely wrong and should be condemned.
      4) Well any male/female who wants to have sex outside marriage does it, he doesnt take permission from anybody to have sex outside marriage, Society will always condemn such acts, its our moral ethos, but if you want to nobody is policing you and I am sure you not gonna telling everyone i’m gonna have sex today with so and so.
      5) Marriage is recommended for natural progression of life and getting serenity and comfort where both partners are equally important and have a full filling happy life with Kids.
      Imagine having kids without marriage , what security are you providing them. there is a system to everything but if don’t wanna follow the delicate nuances of a beautiful life and feel you are right in whatever you do, please go ahead and dont complain.
      Also I wonder Ultimately all of us get married some early some late and settle down no matter how interesting has been your sex life, you mostly wont stay unmarried for lifetime no matter how fulfilling your life has been. Then why the hue and cry, is it that you want try everything and make sure you got the best deal, what is it that you want.
      Are you saying our moral structure is wrong. Well i have loads to write but now I need to leave, will add more comments later

    6. Arpan

      When did Kamasutra become the HOLY BOOK OF HINDUS. It was simply a Sanskrit text written in ancient times, like those on politics, mathematics and sciences, nothing to do with religion. Anyway, Kamasutra is not about crude sensuality only. Have you even gone through it’s original text ? Vatsyayan, it’s writer even notes in the beginning: “Dharm, Arth, Kaam and Moksh are the 4 things that men aspire for, many ppl have written about dharm(virtuous conduct), Arth(Economics and politics) and Moksh(Salvation from desires and wordly bondages and realization of one’s true inner bliss and potency), but Kaam has not been sufficiently discussed and henceforth I write about it. It’s true that men should use Arth for fulfillment of Dharm and finally Moksh, but I write about those who want to taste the sweatmeats of the world and donot aim so high as yet.” Thus it is not an advocacy but simply a matter-of-fact treatise on sex, and on much more than sex.

    7. Arpan

      PS: Pre marital sex ? there are enough grounds to oppose it’s rise in the society. It definitely doesn’t create a generation which is patient, self-controlled and discerning. Has it solved any problems in the West ? rather new problems of teenage pregnancies, high use of oral contraceptives by young girls(definitely harmful) and splitting up of the societal fabric are ensuing. What needs to be done is not promoting it amongst women by not calling them “sluts” so as to equal the score with men, but condemning it both amongst men too. To rectify our own society we need not blindly import the Western model, as West didn’t blindly import ours. West rose because it learnt the best from everywhere- when we derided yog and vedic mathematics as ancient gibberish, West took it up and studied it systematically. And we, being inveterate apes accepted our own ancient innovations after they were approved by the West. Similarly we need to disern what we learn from others. Modernity does not mean accepting what’s new just because it’s new and rejecting what’s old just because it’s old, it means standing back and rationally analyzing before rejecting and accepting. One should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The most hilarious points being advocated today is, not to take into account whether a girl is “virgin” or not before marriage. I would say, judge a man too, that would be the true rectification. It ofcourse is a hypocrisy if I sleep around with girls before marriage and expect my wife to be a virgin, but if I have lived a life of self discipline and went by the norms my parents taught me(which my mind didn’t find illogical, though the selfish desire in my heart might have) so as to honour their trust in my while I lived on their bread, under their roof, I certainly would expect my wife-to-be to share my views and atleast be honest about her past(which even these westernized cultural elites would consider an “ethical duty”). Yes, imposing such views on a person is not correct, but wanting a person who subscribes to them is surely fine.

  12. Karunaharan

    Very diplomatically told.
    It was nauseating to read about FGM.
    I read the article on FGM too. Having intercourse on the same day after cutting the genital mutilation – I have never felt so much irritated in my life. Where the hell is the human race heading to ?

  13. amisha

    firstly I would like to complement the writer on the wonderfully written and structured article . Its hypocrisy at it best that when a girl has more sexual partners than one , she is termed as a ‘slut’ or a woman of loose character but the same title is not bestowed on the males.They are never called ‘man whores’. Its time we realize the fact that a woman has sexual desires too

    1. S

      Yes true women are called loose character but to my best understanding when a male is called “womaniser” we try to protect and keep away our near & dear ones away from them. We even try our level best not to allow or let them enter our home / house. Even we try not to interact with them in public or only he is all alone.
      To me all our these act indicates to such person which “characterless” and action speaks louder than words.

  14. jestin

    Nicely written maam.
    India needs more people like you who stand for for such issues which are kept in the closet for no reason.

  15. Time4Man

    LOL! The first thing comes to mind upon reading this article is the one wrote many years ago by Sagarika Ghose wanting to have “legally enforced orgasm for women/wife”… And I understand you’ll surely take this comment as a compliment!
    On ‘sex-toys’ and ‘Viagra’ thing I would say, there are many more/type of sex toys made/available for women than Men…. OMG .. Patriarchy!
    Pill based contraception came for women many decades back, but no such thing exist for Men… OMG … Patriarchy!
    Even if contraception fails and woman becomes pregnant, only SHE has right to either keep the baby or abort it.. Man has NO say in this! And not only that, she becomes entitled to get maintenance money from the Man for herself and the child… Again Man has no say in that… OMG … Patriarchy!

    On genial mutilation, you failed to mention that Male Genial Mutilation is equally rampant, but never finds mention in the Headlines… Go to YouTube and search for medical circumcision video of new born boys… These are being done in both developed and developing countries under some religious notions and/or some false beliefs that foreskin causes medical complications in later life… However, in reality, such circumcisions cause traumatic issues in kids which get diagnosed at very adulthood…… But OMG… Patriarchy!

    1. blah_18

      I do not seek to legally enforce orgasm, I would much rather just be the person bringing up this issue in a social forum, so that people can sart discussing the matter (Much like, what I am doing right now!). So… No, I did not find that comment of your’s the least it flattering (and the undertone of sarcasm in your lines did not escape me from the very beginning!).

      As for the sex-toys being available to women, more than men… Why would men need to go looking for toys when they have live ones here to play with? And, you only talk about pills as contraceptives because you have obviously not experienced the hormonal imbalance and mood-swings that accompany such methods of contraceptions. And a woman’s reproductive rights come with the fact that she is the one who goes through the pains of housing a foetus within her for 9 months, so unless we are talking about the rights of the males in the case of seahorses (interesting story, do check it out!) I do not see why men get to decide on whether or not to keep the baby. I am not advocating circumcision here, but FGM is not to be equated with male circumcision (for further reading on FGM – http://www.unfpa.org/gender/practices2.htm )

    2. Arpan

      I do not challenge that fact that a woman has more rights over her child than the man(by virtue of many factors including the one you mentioned about gestation), but I don’t find it’s extrapolation to the extent of saying that man has “no rights”. I wouldn’t say my father was any less emotionally, financially and even physically(to an extent) invested in my birth. A man too invests his time, energy, emotions and semen in the reproductive process and hence a woman can’t simply choose to abort on her own volition without caring to take into account atleast, her partners point of view. That is, unless we are talking about women who have the capability to reproduce asexually(by budding ? or through any technological intervention). Plus, there is a hugely debatable topic of what I call “embryo rights”: My mother has given birth to me, but that doesn’t give her rights to kill me or even to neglect me(when I was a toddler)- I am sure there are various laws to prevent her from doing that in advanced nations(Western?) as I am a fully conscious separate individual. Thus, if I have the right against maltreatment/death at the hands of my mother, then till how far back is that right to be considered ? When shall I be considered a separate individual ? after birth? on a month before birth ? or 3 months after birth(as claimed by various religious denominations fighting against use of human embryos in genetic research and cloning)? Great authorities on human rights are debating the issue, so let us accept the limitations of our knowledge instead of being cocky and judgemental.

    3. Syed wasif Azim

      Nice contribution and nice comment here. Differences can be there but your contribution cannot be ignored.Nice comment

    4. Gaius Baltar

      Every single culture that cuts girls cuts boys in the same conditions, with hundreds of deaths a year. There are ten times as many victims of MGM as FGM, and the vast majority are opposed to FGM without realizing they themselves are survivors of mutilation.

      Every single cause behind FGM is identical to those of MGM. The belief that they are not one and the same is purely a function of white privilege in those who raised awareness of FGM in the west initially. Additionally, MGM is an example of extreme misogyny against a feminine aspect of the male anatomy, as is plain in virtually all pop culture references to the foreskin as being moist, internal, smelly and difficult to understand.

      The arguments used to create false disparities between these two practices erase tens of millions of girls who undergo less severe forms of the practice, and undermines the basic human right to bodily integrity which is violated by all forced cosmetic alterations.

      Those claiming that MGM is less damaging do not know male anatomy, and neither do the doctors who are carrying out the procedure. Medical texts do not accurately depict it. Even evolutionary studies of how the reproductive system evolved often use inaccurate models that are circumcised.

      MGM removes functions that are unique to boys, and the anatomy that is removed comprises a similar amount of tissue and nerve endings (often more).

      There is an added racial dimension to the fact that the West is now promoting circumcision as an HIV preventative and effectively experimenting on African men. As a result, boys are being cut in bush conditions, are told they have total immunity to HIV, are dying by the hundreds and spreading HIV faster. The Tuskegee experiment pales in comparison.

      Western culture is not less barbaric than African and Asian cultures. The belief that America does not commit genital mutilation is rooted in white privilege even when the statement is repeated by nonwhites.

      If you want to focus on women’s rights, please do so. But it is antifeminist and racist to deny that MGM is not directly related to it or to minimize the damage caused. Men in Africa who speak out after total amputations are beaten and killed for doing so, and American men (also many of them black and suffering from substandard procedures) are being told that the complications they are experiencing are impossible.

  16. Ashu

    Nice read, however I would be inclined to a few points raised by Gaurav. We have recently talked about having equal rights for women in all aspects of life, but are we ready to weave it into our social fabric?
    We want to empower women with more rights and power in all aspects, but women would not let go of the ‘ladies seats’ reserved in the bus /metros. Want of having equal rights and want of the privilege of being a fairer sex as well…… not fair 🙂
    Lets forget about the social aspects, even if we talk about a personal relationship between a guy and a girl, few things to be noted –
    1) Girls do not propose, its the guy who takes the initiative (most of the times) . Why so ?
    2) Guy and girl having sex, is often looked at as – The guy used the girl/took advantage of the girl. Why so ? Did the girl not enjoy?
    We keep on talking about the good things in Western culture, but can we adopt the western culture in totality? We would always face these problems when we end up in a khichdi culture, adopting half of the things from West and mixing them up with our own take on society.
    We do have MC,BC translations in the west as well (MF) (where women are much better placed), and the west uses this language much more liberally in their mainstream movies, does that mean we interpret something about their treatment to the female sex? Can we stop being ashamed of every damn thing about us?

    Everyone deserves a fair treatment, be it men or women (and I know its still missing in our social strata), but then the topics raised to arrive at the point seem to be not the right ones.
    As always, it is the way I look at things. People may subscribe or not to the same .

  17. Kapesa

    just love the piece, imagine a world without women, what would men do? fight and rape each all day???

  18. Gaargi

    This was a very interesting read, on a very relevant topic. However, I think there need to be a more nuanced discussion on empowering women to be sexual, than celebrating nymphomaniacs or one-night stands (though yes, I am all in favour of stating that sex and love are different, and women can just want sex) . Given that the patriarchal culture and male-dominated porn is all around us, the issue of women who try and enjoy their (heterosexual) sexuality can seldom do so with men who really and truly have a feminist and liberal perspective on it, remains. The MMS scandals and just women’s experience of having sex (do they orgasm? do they get enough oral sex?) are cases in point. Why is feminist porn not free, so that it can turn up in search engines as authentic answers to ‘what women want’? Why is sexuality education not ‘equal’ in telling young girls and young boys more than just about periods (as someone here rightly comments). This is where the real educative revolution begins.

  19. Mohd Babar Shahid

    >Men are not the only ones who walk out of one-night stands today, a fair number of women are doing the same.

    Men and women don’t have one night stands with objects. They have one-night stands with each other, so the number has to be the same. Furthermore, you almost sound jealous with that statement, and what does society have to do with, if I was to believe, women having “fewer” one-night stands?

    >Married women are looked at primarily as an object to satisfy male sexual pleasure.

    Can you back your statement with concrete facts? A man is also duty-bound to satisfy his horny wife, whether he is in the mood or not.

  20. parvathy

    I wonder about the picture’s choice. Here we have the typical young-fair-sexy couple that TV screens and adds use to show us. If your aim is to stress on how vital and important sex relationships are for anyone, women as well as men, why do you choose such a picture that the great majority of people can’t identify to ?
    Being similar to a western movie scene or to condoms cover picture, the prosecutors of women sexual freedom and women’s empowerment will just reinforce their opinion about how immoral and western women’s sexual freedom is.

  21. Rohan

    This takes stereotyping to a whole new level -_-
    about the pic – There are men who do that. There are women who do the same. You simply cannot generalize

    About the article:
    1. Justice Verma Committee report
    should’ve been implemented. I agree. But that’s a sad news for both men and women. Again, enough with the stereotypes already.
    2. you are upset because female genetalia is used in swear words.. you think male genetalia is not used for the same purpose ?
    3. Satyriasis is not used simply because of lack of vocabulary (also included in the list is miandry – something that the article is aimed at doing)
    4. I am pretty sure there are drugs to stimulate female sexual arousal as well (counterpart to viagra)
    5. Porn movies don’t only focus on male orgasms. Where did you get this idea from -_-

    I can go on, but I don’t want to. I hate to criticize. I really do, specially when the writer has written about the issues in such a beautiful manner. But, this is one of the reasons why feminism isn’t taken seriously and someone had to say that

    1. Vennela

      Hi Rohan,

      I agree that generalizations are not good. Men suffer too. There are many kinds of men. Having said that:

      1. Justice committee report has been a bad thing for both men and women. But how does that indicate the author’s intention to reiterate any gender stereotypes?

      2. Because male genitalia is also used in vile language, do you say that we all must stop trying to regard this (i.e., the use of female genitalia as prime vocabulary for swear words) as a problem? Maybe a constructivist comment rather than a defeatist attitude would have brought your intentions better.

      3. Satyriasis is not used because it is not a part of colloquial English. Unless you are using it in a journalistic piece (as this), or as a part of academic writing, it is not understood by many. And by ‘miandry’ you must have meant ‘misandry’ right?

      4. You say there are drugs (as popular, widely marketed and available for popular consumption) just like viagara for females? I am happy and hopeful to know about this. Female contraception and medicine in India is deplorable. Could you please mention a couple of names of these meds you have mentioned?

      5. Porn industry, porn movies are spearheaded towards male pleasure so much so that they always have jets of (male) semen flying around. On a lighter note, here is Amy Schumer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmzPp33kl7o telling us why porn almost always has the same climax.

      I think criticism is good, as long as it is productive. I agree with you that feminism is not taken serious enough in India, but it is because some people choose to ignore it.

  22. Vennela

    Thank you writing this. It is a well written, balanced argument about female sexual pleasure in India. I feel the issue you have highlighted (about the lack of availability of drugs for female sexual dysfunction) is closely related to the lack of adequate research in the area of safe, healthy, non-invasive female contraception. It is sad that many women of this generation succumb out of sheer pressure to go with whatever meds are at hand. Additionally, pieces as yours (and this http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2228396/The-everyday-medicines-make-women-ill-tested-MEN.html) open new worlds to me that I am not sure I wanted to see. That is why thank you again Anju.

  23. Dalji

    I feel sorry for the lady who has been rightfully denied her sexual pleasure — why blame the men alone you are quoting from Bible which is of lesser antiquity then Hindu scriptures Mahabharata is set in Matriarchal background Kunti married to Pandu has sons Karan from Surya, Yudhister from dharma Raja, Bhim from Yayu, Arjuna from Indra and other wife Madri Nakula and Sahadeva from Ashwin Kumars — BUT THE SYSTEM DID NOT WORK– LADY JI — SEX IS NOT FOR PLEASURE BUT FOR PROCREATION AND PLEASURE WHICH ALL DERIVE FROM IT — IS AN INDUCEMENT TO PROCREATE IT AGAIN AND AGAIN

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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.

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