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

Dear Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Indian Culture Won’t Prevent AIDS, Condoms Will!

More from Nishant Chhinkwani

By Nishant Chhinkwani:

I write these words out of bewilderment and a sense of misplaced amusement triggered by your latest comment that I happened to read on the New York Times. You have been quoted as saying “The thrust of the AIDS campaign should not only be on the use of condoms. This sends the wrong message that you can have any kind of illicit sexual relationship, but as long as you’re using a condom, it’s fine.”

You stress about how preserving the Indian culture and the ‘moral fabric’ of the Indian society would help the prevention and spread of HIV/AIDS.

Surely you’re joking Dr. Harshvardhan!

The last I checked, Indian Culture also included some interesting imagery that is pretty graphic, to say the least.

KHAJURAHO

So, by your logic, shouldn’t we indulge in more of what is pictorially represented above, for the sake of ‘preserving the Indian culture’ and the ‘moral fabric’ of our society?

Ah, yes, I see your concerns, dear sir. Sexually transmitted diseases and overpopulation seem to top the list if my incredible mind reading abilities are working at their full capacity.

Wait?

Don’t we have an effective, almost fail proof (90% may not be enough to get you admitted in a top DU college, but it should make do in this case) plan for preventing these problems?

That’s right, sir. I’ll spell it out clearly.

C-O-N-D-O-M-S

That, right there, is a Eureka moment. Or at least, it ought to be. But alas, we don’t need to stress enough on them to prevent HIV/AIDS and others STDs, because abstinence and faithfulness does the trick. Who needs condoms? We all just need to adhere to our ‘culture’ and all the pieces would fall in the right places.

The rest of us, who aren’t/don’t want to get married should either live the life of chastity and wear those fashionable belts they hand out at Opus Dei or we should resort to full time onanism as a way of gratification. After all, there’s no love like self love, and I think you, dear sir, might be inclined to agree.

I don’t know what’s more alarming, the sheer number of people blindly hanging on to your every word or the fact that you are a certified Doctor, a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and a Master of Surgery in Otolaryngology (ENT specialist for us laymen).

Even a 16 year old student with basic idea in biology knows that sex has nothing to with culture. It’s just a basic urge that is intrinsic in us. How this fact seemed to have slipped an esteemed and extremely qualified individual like you is almost as mysterious as the Bermuda Triangle.

Sir, I have immense respect for the work you have done in eradicating polio from our country and I breathed a sigh of relief when I finally saw a qualified medical practitioner at the helm of the Ministry of Health of the nation. But, I’m afraid, this time, I am at odds with you. I cannot give up my freedom to choose a willing sexual partner, and I cannot put both of us at risk of disease, just for the sake of preserving a superimposed side of our ‘culture’ that seems to eat away at my right to choose what’s good for me.

I implore you to think logically, as a human being and a doctor first, and then as a Cabinet Minister toeing the party line. And I sincerely hope good sense prevails. For if it doesn’t, many of us are looking at dark days where the Government might poke its nose right in our bedrooms and raise hell at even the smell of chocolate (or strawberry or coffee, whatever catches your fancy) wafting around.

Sincerely Yours,
A concerned, unmarried, sexually active citizen

You must be to comment.
  1. prashastika

    This nearly epitomises the height of conservatism and we may relate this to the comment of Mr. Abu Azmi who stated that” why women who have consensual sex outside marriage are not hanged.”.!! Its again the culture of india which explicitly says that a woman should only be confined sexually , emotionally to her husband , but there is no such custom for the man. of course, a married couple would want to remain physically intimate with one another, but the comment does ignore sex outside marriage which CERTAINLY is not INDIA’S CULTURE.! Its just that because its not acceptable , so its like an open secret which has to be hidden from the society. I believe this is sheer hypocrisy and rooted patriarchy which BJP ENDORSES as their hindutva ideology which wants to preserve India’s culture. This does not mean that we must go against promoting our indian culture, but the point is sex and love should not be taken to be exclusive for marriage..moreover against culture. RELIGION AND CULTURE ARE OFTEN GIVEN AS EXCUSE TO PROLONG THE EXISTING OPPRESSIVE AND PATRIARCHAL CONSTRUCTS. However, I do not endorse the opinion that people should treat each other as sex objects.. but again , its a matter of CONSENT AND CHOICE.!

    1. shruti

      I remember Ashok Singhal of VHP saying Hindus must produce 5 children to counter the growing Muslim population and of course Mr Modi did refer the refugee camps in Gujarat as baby making factories. So the move is not surprising.
      i am really fascinated by the ‘preserve India’s culture’. What exactly are we supposed to save it from? As far as i know prostitution is as old as mankind. So to think prostitution didn’t happen in ‘golden history of India’ is to turn a blind eye to history.

  2. vibhor nigam

    Statement of Dr. Harshvardhan, as quoted by author, has been completely blown out of proportion to write this article. Nowhere was the word Indian Culture was mentioned and illicit relationships are not justified by any culture/ society, leave aside Indian culture. Moreover i don’t think that preaching humans to be moral is monopoly of human culture. For the sexually active citizen you are, you must also be knowing that condoms have an error rate of 2 percent. it means that they are always not effective. Moroever the way you have glorified sex as a basic human instinct and urge and tried to keep it away from morality, then even rapes should be justified, because rapes are just a way to satisfy the basic human instinct of sexual satisfaction and dominance. Morality, weather you approve it or not is what differs humans from animals. And morality is preached by every culture. When societies loose morality that is when reforms occur.

    Kindly, leave this myopic view of human freedom and liberty which absolves them from any responsibility.

    1. Ramanik

      Did you even gave a thought before writing this bullshit. Didn’t your parents had sex before you were born. How is pre-marital sex illicit? You might have never realised, but humans are born when two people have sex. Sex is a natural activity. Marriage is not. Marriage is just another one of the social norms which we humans follow to maintain our acceptance in the society.

      Even if condoms have an error rate of 2 percent, It is still 98-percent pregnancies avoided. What this country needs is a good foundation of sex-education which might help the AIDS epidemic.

      People don’t rape to for sexual satisfaction. Religion and morality are personal matters. You have yours and everyone has theirs. By your words, you look like a rape apologist. I have seen how rape affects victim’s life. Don’t ever compare rape with sex. RAPE IS NOT SEX.

    2. Gaurav

      vibhor nigam has criticised illicit relationships not pre marital sex. stop misleading people

    3. Siddharth Iyer

      This comes from a card-holding authority on what counts as an illicit relationship, I’m sure.

    4. Gaurav

      – i am not holding any cards
      – i simply said that vibhor used the word illicit and not pre marital but you are so lost in your own thought that you first equate pre marital with illicit and then call me a card holder of some sort for no reason .

    5. Siddharth Iyer

      What Ramanik said.

      This needs to be driven home, because it’s seemingly so difficult to grasp. RAPE IS NOT SEX.

      Crimes are acts which cause harm and rape is a crime. A horrendously scarring crime. Consensual sex doesn’t cause harm, and so you are not fit to judge it or people who engage in it.

    6. vibhor nigam

      Thanks for the glorious justification of Rape is Not sex. I know it and i am neither justifying Rape as Sex. It was a counter for the argument which writer had embedded in the article that ” having sex is a biological and primitive urge and thus the act should be justified even if it leads to illicit relationships”, but alas you were so pissed of at reading Rape and Sex together that you decided to shout at it from the top of you voice dragging parents, family and god knows what else into the conversation. By the way controlling your expressions and not dragging families and personal relations of the person you are appalled by also comes under the purview of morality.

      But since, perhaps you don’t give a damn about morality and are only driven by your so called rationalism let’s talk a bit rationally. The word illicit relationship is used when one of the partners indulging in act is married. Now i am not sure from where and how have you dragged pre marital sex in the domain of illicit relationship. Secondly if you had the patience to read the whole sentence on rape it meant it can be passed of as a basic human instinct of sexual satisfaction and dominance if we go by writers argument. Now, my argument could be wrong in your or others purview but nowhere in the world it connected rape and sex.

      Lastly, being appalled is one thing but first read and understand what is written properly before tagging people as ” rape apologists” or whatever hate words and shit comes to your head. And if you can’t understand what’s written there in English perhaps try dictionary or ask the person.Still if you like attacking people rather than what they are saying then perhaps it is time for you to go back to your mother’s womb and have a nice sleep there rather than idiotically venting out your frustration on something that’s not even written.

    7. arushi

      Dude first of all sex is a basic human and animal instinct. Dolphins and Humans are the only two animals in this world to have sex for pleasure apart from procreation. Rape has very little if any to do with sex. Rape is all about power. Rape is a tool to physically and psychologically damage the victim. The prevalence of HIV in India is mainly among drug users, sex workers and homosexuals amongst others. Condoms not only prevent STD but also prevent unwanted pregnancies as well. True, even condoms have rates of failure. But its the most effective way of birth control and STD control we have. What Dr Harshvardhan said is that Indian culture will help prevent Aids is a myopic view of an epidemic. Go tell that to a victim of HIV and that person will kill you himself. HIV/STD’s can be countered by Sex education and proper use of birth control which is easily available. We really need to change our attitudes about sex and incorporate as a part of our life rather treat it as a sordid act only discussed in hushed whispers. No one should dictate ones sexuality, specially not the government and that too someone as bigoted as the current(Not that the previous governments weren’t bigoted). One’s morality is ones personal choice and society should not impose their morality on an individual in the name of culture of god. Lastly Indian culture is mostly about sex. Mahabharata is full of it. Kamasutra the lovers manual is given an immortal life in Khajuraho. So much for orgies and threesomes without protection preventing AIDS.

    8. vibhor nigam

      yeah, i agree that morality is a personal choice and i don’t think he is forcing it on anybody. What he meant and what he has stated in his blog later as well that abstinence and no to illicit relationships should also be promoted. The view that it is justified to have an illicit relationship if you are using a condom needs to be broken down. Dr.harshvardhan has not even used the word Indian Culture. I don’t see it in the portion quoted by the author of the article as Dr. harshvardhan’s statement. The word Indian culture is used by the writer, which shouldn’t have even propped up since abstinence and fidelity are there in every culture not Indian culture alone. If one doesn’t believe in a culture that is a different thing. Secondly, i am really not sure how you have concluded that Indian culture is mostly about sex. i have read Mahabharata too as many others and it is a story about right,wrong and justice. Sex doesn’t form even 10 percent of it. Kamasutra is a book on sexual practices and there might be other books too. But there are thousands of books on tradition, religions and culture in india and these books form a percentage of it not the majority percent on it. Perhaps you have hand picked these books to make your point in which case its ok but if you seriously think there are no more books i will urge you to read more

  3. Sneha Roychoudhury

    It surprises me how a 2% failure rate in the use of condoms keeps one from using protection. My condom might break. There is no way I’m using it. I rather transmit a disease or get a woman pregnant in the process. That seems very wise
    Secondly, rape has very little to do with sexual gratification, but one can only have the ability to understand that when one stops justifying the absence of logic, hence disqualifying that possibility in this case. The writer, if you had paid attention, mentions consensual sex, and if reason had a place in your argument you would have known that sex IS in fact an instinct, inseperable from the human psyche, of course, self control featuring strongly in the equation. That makes us humans, not the loss of the instinct altogether.
    As far as morality is concerned, I beg to ask, who decides these moral benchmarks and who is given the high grounds to judge? Social constructs are man made shackles that tie us down to unnecessary backwardness. A social system has laws, for a reason. And morality differs, it is subjective. So whichever high horse you speak from, the world would rather you dismount it. Nobody is the judge of another as long as a crime isn’t committed and the use of protected sex has nothing to do with it anyhow.

    1. vibhor nigam

      interesting … and how exactly it is decided weather a certain act is a crime or not … i guess its based on a set of ethical and moral values that a society follows …. if one thinks of de-linking crime and moral and ethical values then one is living in a fool’s paradise … although it’s equally interesting to see how degradation as a human being can be marketed under the label of human freedom… ” please go around and sleep with as many as you can … as long as you wear a condom … its just fine 🙂 “

    2. Siddharth Iyer

      Um.
      It’s a crime if someone is hurt by it. That’s about all. Hard to understand, yes?
      Degradation is random people sticking their noses in and controlling what you may and may not do in privacy and consent. Sex, meanwhile, is fun.

      And YES, it’s just fine for people to do that if they’re one of the very few people who don’t place much stock in fidelity. Let them know the risks and consequences, and let them have the responsibility to deal with them.
      Let’s think to ourselves, “Why does other peoples’ enjoyment bother me so much?”

    3. vibhor nigam

      Hurt is a misleading word my friend. if crime will be decided on hurts then every act will become a crime. generally what’s stated as a crime is what society at large does not accepts in its ethical framework and the frameworks change thus acts to be interpreted as or not as crime also changes according to the ethical framework of the society. Juveniles should be punished for serious crimes, a live in partner will have same rights as that of a spouse are some of the examples.

      Secondly, i don’t think telling people about being loyal is poking into their bedroom. As you yourself said you can only tell people about risks and consequences and then leave it to them. The point is weather you want to tell them about that or not.

  4. Prashant Kaushik

    Bewilderment Part 2 :-

    Trying your logic here –

    Out of the 448 articles in 25 parts, 12 schedules, 5 appendices of the world’s largest written constitution, which belongs to us, one of its insignificantly microscopic clause – clause 3rd of article 22 empowers the Government to prison a citizen in the name of preventive detention .
    So Dear writer, going by your Logic, (which you applied for a rare exterior of an ancient temple) since such a clause exist in our constitution, so to respect and preserve our Constitution, should n’t we throw behind bars as many people as we can ? May be even you , the entire YKA, even me, infact the whole of our generation. That would be a great service in preserving our sacred constitution ???

    The entire literature and architecture of Jainism, Buddhism and ofcourse Hinduism, in different manners stress about controlling our senses and preventing our selves from falling into the trap of illicit indulgence.

    I am bewildered how new age writers have the confidence to summarize the vast Indian culture into mere proponent of sexual indulgence just on the basis of a 10% sculptures of a single Khajuraho temple .
    If you can get time from idolizing your Elon Musk, Richard Feynmann, Carl Sagan and Paul Krugman, take some time to visit some of the hundreds of others temples of scores of different school of architecture in India. – the Nagara School the Dravida, the Vijaynagar, Māru-Gurjara …………….
    Read about the different art forms and sculptures which existed in India – during Maryan, Post Mauryan, Gupta period and so on….
    My dear, there is a whole universe of Indian culture which exist besides the confines of 1/10th sculptures of Khajuraho temple. Just as there are over Four hundred articles in our constitution besides that infamous Article 22 clause 3.

    Don’t be so myopic or selective and dont misuse your urge to critcise a particular government to create a false summary of worlds oldest, richest and continuing culture.

    1. Nishant

      Ah, my friend. You have enlightened me. I realise that I have not just myopic but completely presbyopic. I have strayed from the path and I hope I’ll find redemption.
      There’s just one tiny glitch.
      If only you knew the word ‘sarcasm’…
      If only you read the article and understood that ‘culture’ has nothing to do with sex…
      If it does, having a skewed view towards it focussing on only on the other side of the coin is myopic as well, innit?
      No one, I repeat NOONE has the right to decide who I indulge in intercourse with, as long as it is between consenting adults.
      Surely, you would agree to that?
      P.S. on a personal note, that was some lightning quick judging. You caught the Elon Musk part but missed the reads almost anything he gets his hands on part did you? And you call me myopic?
      Hayee re Irony!

    2. Prashant Kaushik

      If you firmly believe that culture has nothing to do with ‘Sex’ then why create a false, illusionary and distorted version of Indian culture. Why cant you just leave it alone.
      Indian culture has been immense and vast. Unfortunately this richness and vastness has been the pretext for many myopics to create their own conclusion of culture.
      It will take great effort, time and dedication before someone can claim to come up with such enlightening thesis of what India has all about been in all these thousands years.

      The absolute freedom to indulge in sex like rabbits is nothing less than hedonism.

      Human beings don’t have the freedom to do many such acts just by their own consent. Some regulations ought to be there. Tomorrow you will come up to say that a Human being, by his own consent, is also a free owner of his life and can commit suicide at the drop of hat the moment he feels so.
      By the same logic, even Sati would also get justified ?

      What you are thinking as liberty is nothing but hedonism. And you should must differentiate between them.

    3. Nishant

      You astound me mate. You just drew an analogy between sex and suicide. Having sex is a natural instinct suicide is not.
      Self preservation is a basic human instinct. Suicide can hardly be called that. I think you would agree to that.
      The reason why I mentioned indian culture, as I have already explained again and again is that it conveniently ignores this issue while vociferously propagating some other ideas. That’s a little blind sided and to use your favourite word, myopic.
      Also, this piece is, again, not being neck deep in vaginas or penises 24X7. It’s about- hey, I’ll do it, with who I want, when I want it if the other person is fine with it. It’s my personal choice and my conscience should serve as a moral compass to judge what is right or wrong. Not regulations as imposed by others who claim to have a higher moral authority than me.
      P.S. rabbits are cute and kinky and happy. Why drag the poor fellows into this debate? Are you saying are mental faculties are equao to rabbits?
      Food for thought mate.

  5. Sneha Roychoudhury

    I do not understand what a culture has to do with an individual’s right to have sex and to exercise the reasonable choice to have protected sex? As far as sleeping around is concerned, why must one judge another’s personal life? Have we run out of prominent, pertinent, pressing issues that are to be addressed as issues? Have we run out of the evils existing in what you so smugly call culture? Or has character policing now become the foremost of our priorities? And how is the propagation of unprotected sex meeting any of the Nation’s requirements at this moment?

  6. Sneha Roychoudhury

    And again I must point out, as you clearly have missed. There is a distinction between ethics and morality. And with a clearer understanding of the two concepts comes the understanding of how a legal system operates. As far as using a condom goes, whether one is sleeping around or not, protected sex is in no way an evil that marks degeneration. I don’t know from where you gather your knowledge but the last time I checked it still seemed to make utmost sense to not have an STD eating away at my system. You clearly have a different opinion and you surely are entitled to one
    As far as the study of the Indian culture is concerned, a detailed analysis goes to manifest a lot of the 10% you seem to dismiss with such disdain. That is when it isn’t projecting social evils and growing rigidity with a passage of time.

  7. venu

    whats wrong in that statement.
    try to understand our great indian culture

  8. annony

    enough with khajurao references.

  9. Gaurav

    the bone of contention seems to be alleged statement which I would like to reproduce below:

    —–The thrust of the AIDS campaign should not only be on the use of condoms. This sends the wrong message that you can have any kind of illicit sexual relationship, but as long as you’re using a condom, it’s fine——–

    since the writer did not understand the statement let me simplify , basically the statement means that just because we now have condoms does not mean that all of us can go around setting new records of who gets the maximum sex. and in case even that statement is not clear, let me simplify further..——– ab condom aa gaye hain, iska matlab ye nahin ki jiska jo man karein wo bajata phire…. i hope that point is now clear…..

  10. Gaurav

    the title is misleading , the writer has given title – Dear Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Indian Culture Won’t Prevent AIDS, Condoms Will —— but if you read the article on times of india it is clear that dr harsh vardhan is saying that condoms are fine but fidelity to one’s partner is more important. I can understand that the writer would jump into bed at the first opportunity so people like the writer may not like the statement

    1. Nishant

      Even if I do want to do that, is there a problem with that?

  11. Gaurav

    sex is obviously on the mind of young people and the moment anyone asks them to be responsible , the young take it as an offence and start abusing people but no where has dr harshvardhan said anything offensive so all those men and women who get a hard on everytime you read a magazine should relax

  12. A reader

    Yes the title here and even in the news source is misleading. The news is being blown out of proportion. T

    his was the title: Don’t wear a condom, wear values to fight AIDS: Harsh Vardhan
    This is what the news is: “In an interview to The New York Times, the health minister has said that the thrust of the AIDS campaign should not be only on the use of condoms as it sends the wrong message that “you can have any kind of illicit sexual relationship, but as long as you’re using a condom, it’s fine.”
    He added that the national campaign should also promote integrity of sexual relationship between husband and wife”

    Now no where I see him saying that condom use should not be encouraged or having sex is not natural or unhealthy. Regarding morality, think for yourself what increases the risk of STDs, multiple partners or having one faithful committed relationship? Of course one’s sexual life is something very private but what’s the harm if morality is being promoted too? As long as I remember, moral values are considered positive for the society and even in the most open or liberal societies, there are things which are socially accepted and also looked down upon. Also, keep in mind the values are being “promoted” and not “imposed”.

    Admant of the rape cases we hear so many things such as guys need to respect women and her choices, sexual urges are increasing, male ego needs to be trimmed etc. This all comes under morality only. If people are aware about using condoms (obviously) and also have strong moral values, I don’t think most rapists would consider women as sex objects and a spouse/partner would lower the risk of spreading the STD to their partner.

  13. Sajith

    Remove the colored glass and look at what he said, You stick with your partner to avoid AIDS. We need to adopt western technology not culture.

  14. Ra’s al Ghul

    Indian culture does not want to stop you from having sex, it wants you to have sex within the boundaries of marriage. You do not put your dick in any woman’s pussy you find, and a woman does not open her legs to any man’s dick she feels like it. Yes, sex is a natural urge, but it must be controlled and reserved for your spouse only.

    P.S. Every time a civilization reaches the pinnacle of its decadence we return to restore the balance.

  15. Santosh Sharma

    Nishant Chhinkwani plz ve sufficent knowledge about indian culture. ARe u not aware of that boy & girls 4m high society are engaged themselves in sexually activities. having sex with multi patner is a even a animal behaviour. the one who preserve sparm he can increase his brain potential more than 10%. Our ancient sage were so much intelligent, the things which are invented were already invented in indian in Advance form. Nishant ji will allowed his daughter or sister getting fucked using condom

    1. Sadho

      Dear, Santosh Sharma ji,

      I’ve a very sincere question to ask: How much of your “sparm” have you preserved so far?

    2. Siddharth Iyer

      Oh boy, conservatives say the darnedest things!
      If your “sparm” is so magical, then why don’t you want to share it with a lovely lady? All your sanskaar doesn’t hide your greed, my friend.

      Nishant ji’s daughter and sister are free to do what they like because Nishant ji is not a myopic psychopath who treats women like property! Oh joy.

    3. Nishant

      Thank you @Siddharth Iyer for putting it exactly how it is. I have been too busy facepalming over Santosh’s statement.
      I ll say it myself, it is their own individual choice and I wpuld be a hypocrite if I tried to impose my beliefs/restrictions on them.

  16. Gaurav

    the topic of sex, morality, indian culture, liberals, conservatives seems to have touched a raw nerve among indians and typical stand taken by pseudo liberals against perceived conservatives.

    1. Nishant

      Try it once. Maybe you ll know exactly what I’m talking about. 🙂

  17. masuba

    Hi Nishant,

    Came across ur blog.its well written.certain arguments made by you are correct.but do you know one fact?aids is transmitted even when one wears a condom…pls dont reject this info on face value…do some research or ask a real honest sexologist..

More from Nishant Chhinkwani

Similar Posts

By Submitted anonymously

By सुमित सिंह

By Imran Khan

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

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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