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

Why Farhan Akhtar Shouldn’t Be The Only MARD Standing Up For The Rights Of Women

More from Anju Anna John

By Anju Anna John:

On the 29th of November, 2014, a 19 year-old student at a college in Hyderabad objected to a female classmate being harassed by a senior. Two hours later, he succumbed to the injuries sustained during an alleged assault by this senior. The encyclopaedia Britannica defines feminism as “the belief in the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes.” However, the truth is that even in the 21st century, women fighting for equal rights are generally looked upon as men-hating lesbians; the thought of a man standing up for feminism is almost unthinkable, and in this case, suicidal.

Photo Credit
Photo Credit

In the aftermath of the gang rape of 16th December, India became infamous as the home to multitude of rapists. Female tourists travelling to India started worrying about their safety around Indian men. Around this time, the Sunday Review of the New York Times published an article by Ms. Lavanya Sankaran titled ‘The Good Men of India’. The article praised the kind and caring nature of many Indian men. The world was content to know that not all Indian men raped. However, the very next day, Aman Sethi wrote an article for Kafila detailing the classism and the hidden promotion of patriarchy in Ms. Sankaran’s piece. He reiterated the fact that nine out of 10 perpetrators of rape were known to the victim. He questioned Ms. Sankaran’s notion that upsetting the traditional gender roles of men was the real problem, and mused whether she was trying to convey that the problem was not too much patriarchy, but too little. Essentially, the question here is, whether the concept of men believing in equality of the sexes really is so opposed to our traditional notions of men?

One of the things that struck me about the speech by the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson at the United Nations Headquarters as part of the HeForShe campaign was the moment when she formally invited men to discuss the issue of gender equality and stated that ‘gender equality is your issue too’. She did not stop at women’s rights, but highlighted how the traditional gender roles prevented men from seeking help in times of need and demanded them to be ‘macho’ and aggressive. Towards the end of her speech, she quoted Edmund Burke who said that, “All that is needed for the forces of evil to triumph is for enough good men and women to do nothing.”

The truth is, men are rarely involved in talks on women’s rights. In the 1995 Beijing Conference on Women, only 30% of the participants were male. In March this year, the police in Scotland launched a series of posters as part of their campaign to raise awareness about rape . What was unique about this campaign was that its goal was to educate young men. However, most of the time, issues that affect women are looked at in isolation without involving the other gender in these discussions.

What is heartening is that Emma Watson was not the first person to identify this problem. In September 1991, a journalist named C.Y. Gopinath put up an advertisement in the Indian Express that called for men “who feel that wives are not for battering and they could do something to stop or prevent it”. One of the 205 men who responded to the advertisement was Harish Sadani from Mumbai, who went on to set up his organisation ‘Men Against Violence and Abuse’(MAVA). He realised that empowering women was not the only step towards gender equality. There was an equal need to liberate men from the shackles of patriarchy, and to deconstruct what masculinity stood for. He tried to do this by conducting week long residential camps for young men where they facilitated dialogues on male-female relationship. The organisation also conducts seminars and publishes material on gender issues, masculinity and sexuality.

Last year, Bollywood actor Farhan Akthar initiated a campaign titled ‘MARD – Men Against Rape and Discrimination’ after an employee of his was sexually assaulted and murdered. His efforts were recognised by the United Nations Women, who appointed him their Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia on 13th of November, 2014. He is the first man to be named as a Goodwill Ambassador in the organisation’s history. He will work towards the empowerment of women and girls and act as an advocate for the HeForShe campaign.

We need more of such people in our society today. We need more of the ‘He’(s) who will stand up for the ‘She’(s). And we need the good men of India to stand behind them and cheer them on!

You must be to comment.
  1. Babar

    After the 16th December rape case, the number of fabricated allegations of rape have shot through the roof.

    Fears have been expressed that strengthening of the law against sexual offenses after the Nirbhaya case has also led to an increase in false cases. Now, there’s some evidence to support this claim. Statistics on the disposal of rape cases in Delhi’s trial courts show a sharp increase in the acquittal rate after the infamous December 16, 2012, gang rape.

    While in 2012, the acquittal rate in rape cases was 46%, in the first eight months of 2013 (for which exact figures are available) it shot up to 75%. Sources said acquittals remain high this year as well, accounting for around 70% of the cases.

    Legal experts say the high acquittal rates are because of a spurt in the number of false rape cases being filed. The observations of judges in acquittal cases also bear this out. – Times Of India

  2. Babar

    According to NCRB, there were 2,22,091 arrests related to 498A in 2013 alone, out of which 1,74,620 were men and 47,471 were women – A man is arrested every 3 minutes over dowry.

    Watch the movie 498A: The Wedding Gift

  3. Babar

    Women are the biggest perpetrators of violence, whether in the form of mothers-in-law, or wives. In the U.S. alone, a man is a victim of domestic violence every 38 seconds.

More from Anju Anna John

Similar Posts

By Rachna Chhokar

By Bhaskar Choudhary

By Devyani Rabindranath

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below