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These ‘Sadak Chhaps’ Taught Delhi An Important Lesson

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By Amit Sengupta

Delhi’s streets buzzed with ‘Haq Banta Hai’ over the last month. A team of diverse theatre and street play personalities gathered at several places around Delhi’s popular locations to connect with people for Oxfam India’s right to education campaign.
Haq Banta Hai at Bappa Nagar_Karol Bagh (3)

This group of people, interestingly known as ‘Sadak Chhap’, swooped over several key locations across Delhi to perform street plays, skits and magic shows to push for the speedy implementation of the Right to Education Act. The RTE Act which has been in force since April 2010 has the immense potential of bringing millions of children back to school and provide them what is quintessentially their fundamental right.

Haq Banta Hai at Dilli Haat_18 April (3)
Currently, there are six million children in India who do not go to school. They are unable to avail education due to a plethora of reasons – but one of the fundamental reasons is a lack of government schools near them. The presence of a government school is vital because it is this public school which is mandated to provide ‘free and compulsory’ education to all children between the ages of 6 to 14 years. Unfortunately, only 8 percent of the country’s government schools fully comply with the provisions of the RTE Act.

Sadak Chhap’ and its team collaborated with a host of institutes across Delhi and performed an interesting mix of plays, public dialogues, songs, and dances in places like Dilli Haat, Kisaan Haat, Karol Bagh, Seemapuri and Jamia Milia Islami University to increase awareness on this issue in hopes of creating a supportive climate that will put pressure on the Cabinet to implement the Act at the earliest.

 

Magic shows were also performed to convey the message in a profound way to kids, school going children and young adults. A mix of humour and honest representation kept the audience engaged for a longer period.

Haq Banta Hai at Sangam Vihar (6)

As part of a show in Dilli Haat, the magician asked the audience what they thought was lacking in government schools. The response ranged from lack of toilets for girls, absence of adequate classrooms, unavailability of trained teachers, to a lack of appropriate budget.

In another show at Kisan Haat, an audience remarked that it was the complete responsibility of the government to make adequate provisions and that citizens should actively be involved in the process.

Neha, a young girl in the audience feels that “we must end all kinds of discrimination if we are to ensure education for all and we as citizens have an active part to play in this issue.” She wanted to join the campaign and emphasized on the role active citizenship could play to ensure educational rights for children.

Ballimaran_Haq Banta Hai performances (11)

Hundreds have given missed calls and signed to pledge support for ‘Haq Banta Hai’. Some of them even expressed their desire to support the initiative by contributing their services and providing financial support. These performances and shows helped create a sustained dialogue and a positive involvement of the public that will hopefully move our initiative in the right direction.

Photo courtesy: Amit Sengupta/Sadak Chhap

Your support is vital. You can join us in this campaign and help foster an atmosphere where every child can have his or her ‘Haq’ (right) of education. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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

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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.

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