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There’s A World Where Draco Loves Hermione And Edward Cullen Attends Hogwarts!

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By Arati Nair:

When Severus Snape keeled over at the end of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, I shed a tear or two for the untimely demise of yet another tragic hero, reminiscent of Charles Dickens’ Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities. Honestly, would it have been too much trouble for a Potions Master to carry an antidote? As with most characters pining for lost love, Snape and Carton suffered even in penance, and ultimately succumbed to the whims of their respective creators.

The tragedy of Snape’s death, though along stereotypical lines and essential for the plot, drove me to look for avenues that explored the various nuances of his character. It was then that I stumbled into the universe of fan-fiction. And boy, what a universe indeed!

Fan-fiction, as the name suggests, is fiction written by fans in line with the original premise of the story. Copyright laws are blurry with regard to it, and most fan-fiction websites provide a disclaimer anyway. Its modern form became popular with the Star Trek fanworks in the 1960s. Literary license allows writers to venture into plotlines left unfinished or unexplored by the original author, attribute fresh traits to the protagonists and even fabricate romance where none exists in canon.

This usually ranges from the fairly palatable romantic tropes like Bella/Jacob from Twilight to the nausea-inducing McGonagall/Harry stories from Harry Potter. To further pan out their tales, many have dived headfirst into the realm of crossover fiction, involving characters from more than one fandom. For a reader of this genre, Dumbledore visiting The Shire, or Edward Cullen attending Hogwarts are all possible scenarios.

The wild imagination of the masses knows no bounds as evident by the zillion varied, often bizarre fan-fics (or simply fics) churned out on the internet daily. ‘Star Trek’, ‘The X-Files’, ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’, ‘Batman’, ‘Lord Of The Rings’, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, One Direction and even Bollywood all have their unique niche in this alternate retelling of actual fiction.

The Mishmash Of Wheat And Chaff

The quality of works, however, takes a beating with many amateurs going overboard to vent their frustration with a franchise, rather than delivering good stories. As a result, fics have attained infamy as memoirs of wannabe teenage celebrities for their lousy literary quality, poor grammar, unhealthy porn fixation, and over-emphasis on emotional diatribes. Many cringe-worthy stories like My Immortal (arguably the worst fic ever written, it resembles a train wreck in slow motion, choke-full of nonsense, compelling the reader to plod along and earning a bad name for fan-fics in the process) depict how typing in a drunken stupor does not produce a good fic. Even more irritating is when the author self-inserts himself/herself as a character into the story universe with everyone else suddenly falling head over heels in love with him/her. A prime example of such travesty is the aforementioned fic.

With very few diamonds in the rough, fan-fiction as pop culture though, is not always bad. E.L. James’ New York Times bestseller trilogy, ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey‘, started out as an online Twilight fic, featuring Edward and Bella in a BDSM relationship. In the published version, James changed the name of the protagonists to Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. Anna Todd’s story series ‘After‘ was first posted on Wattpad as a One Direction fic with Harry Styles, the singer, as one of the central characters. The success of both their fics encouraged these authors to get them published as novels with few cosmetic alterations.

While the obsession with erotica and manipulative bad boys is a tad disheartening, a reader is likely to come across the occasional good fiction while sifting through the humongous archives of allegedly substandard literature.

Sample a dramatic, almost believable, romance of Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series, ‘The Fallout‘; an angsty tale, inspired by the Batman comic series, ‘Firework‘ or the adventurous retelling of ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ with Boromir alive in ‘The Long Road Home‘. Many amazing pieces of fan-art like this, and the one below are proof of the widespread talent on the worldwide web.

http://kinko-white.tumblr.com/post/73094952075/thranduil-legolas-sketch

A Platform For Bonding And Self-Evaluation Of Talents

Fan-fiction becomes the thread uniting people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Members within a fandom develop a bonhomie of sorts that stems from the collective desire to write/draw and shape the canon universe in ways they please. Livejournal is a popular site for various online communities that host yearly fests, fic-exchanges, writing challenges etc. that transcend geographical barriers. While unlike a professional writing workshop, fan-fiction websites offer a free opportunity for aspiring writers and artists to showcase their skills, interact with those who share their interest and develop a fan-base of their own making through reviews and feedback from readers. Universities like Princeton even offer a course in fan-fiction.

Lest they be labelled copycats without an original thought, most fic writers shy away from the limelight. Operating under a pseudonym, they often wither away in the virtual abyss without a trace. However, for every perishing author or artist, a new one is born, taking forth the legacy of fan-fiction. As long as frenzied fan following persists, this breed of creators will continue to flourish. Because every story can be told in a million ways, why stick to one?

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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.

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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.

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.

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