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YKA Rewind: 37 Stories That You Found Most Powerful In 2015

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By YKA Staff

This year was quite eventful for team Youth Ki Awaaz. Not only did we expand in terms of the number of people we reached, but we were also able to add many more to our community of writers.

The past year, we were able bring to you some stories that touched a wide number of people and either inspired change, or triggered an important conversation. Other stories brought out some startling revelations, experiences and narratives which often remain untold.

With 2015 packing up its bag and the new year ringing the doorbell, here’s a look back at 37 Youth Ki Awaaz stories that you found most powerful.

1. Of Curvy Women And Rugged Men: The Endless Search For ‘Ideal’ And ‘Desirable’ Bodies

As part of our #TalkSexuality campaign with TARSHI, we explored how the pressure to look a certain way and how the media and popular culture reinforce these notions.

Of Curvy Women And Rugged Men: The Endless Search For ‘Ideal’ And ‘Desirable’ Bodies

2. Worshipping The Murderer Of The ‘Father Of The Nation’

This story discussing the demand of a certain section of Hindu extremists to build a temple to honour Nathuram Godse sparked an active conversation. Worshipping The Murderer Of The ‘Father Of The Nation’

3. Covering The #Hokkolorob Movement

One of the biggest student movements the country has seen in recent times, Jadavpur University rose up and how against the apathy of the administration and state. The protest marked the beginning of what was a momentous year for student movements across the country.

#Hokkolorob Protests – Youth Ki Awaaz

 

4. ‘My Kali Kills. My Draupadi Strips…’: Meena Kandasamy, Uninterrupted

Activist, translator and poet Meera Kandasamy talked about her work, her strong feminist ideas and her anti caste view in this interview with team YKA.

‘My Kali Kills. My Draupadi Strips…’: Meena Kandasamy, Uninterrupted

5. ‘I Am A Woman, And I Masturbate. Stop Demonising Me For It’

Taking forward the conversation on the stigma women face while claiming a right over their own bodies, this account highlighted how being a ‘proper’ woman has, for years, forced women to deny themselves the right to claim their own sexuality. ‘I Am A Woman, And I Masturbate. Stop Demonising Me For It’

6. In Iran, One Woman Is Leading The Battle Against Compulsory Hijab, Through Facebook

Masih Alinejad, an Iranian writer and journalist made a bold statement through her page ‘My Stealthy Freedom’ on Facebook, “giving a voice to the voiceless and stirring the conscience of humanity to support the struggle of Iranian women for basic human rights, freedom and equality.”

In Iran, One Woman Is Leading The Battle Against Compulsory Hijab, Through Facebook

7. When Cake Is Better Than Sex: Growing Up Asexual In A Straight World

Breaking the silence on the taboos of sexuality in India, our features writer Shambhavi Saxena shared her experience of understanding asexuality and what it meant for her to be asexual in a society that only acknowledges heterosexuality. When Cake Is Better Than Sex: Growing Up Asexual In A Straight World

8. Instagram Removes Photo Of Fully-Clothed Menstruating Woman, Here’s What She Has To Say

Rupi Kaur created a massive wave on social media, breaking many taboos in one go when she uploaded photos on Instagram that showed a sleeping woman with a stain from menstruation. After her photos were taken down, this is how she responded to shut down the haters.

Instagram Removes Photo Of Fully-Clothed Menstruating Woman, Here’s What She Has To Say

9. Molested 12 Meters Below Sea Level By My Diving Instructor, All I Could Do Was Signal ‘OK’

This chilling personal story left anyone who read it shocked. One of our most powerful stories this year, Kavya’s story was later picked up by mainstream media and started a conversation on women’s safety in the country. Molested 12 Meters Below Sea Level By My Diving Instructor, All I Could Do Was Signal ‘OK’

10. You Have A Problem With My Face? Buck Off!

That’s what this brave contributor had to say to anyone who wanted her to conform to society’s idea of ‘beautiful’! You Have A Problem With My Face? Buck Off!

11. “What Went Wrong With Her? Is She Adopted?” My Struggle With The ‘Kali-Kalooti’ Complex

Inspired with the previous story, another contributor found the courage to stand up against yet another taboo, and proudly claimed her beauty. “What Went Wrong With Her? Is She Adopted?” My Struggle With The ‘Kali-Kalooti’ Complex

12. “Call Me Whore, Call Me Slut, Call Me Hijra, Call Me Eunuch, I Don’t Care”

This strong personal narrative brought to light the discrimination and stigma that our LGBT+ community faces, just for choosing to be themselves. Divyaroop gave just the right answer to all the haters!

“Call Me Whore, Call Me Slut, Call Me Hijra, Call Me Eunuch, I Don’t Care”

13. After 2 Years Of Sexual Harassment At The NGO I Worked For, An Apology E-mail Is All I Got

Another story that caught the media’s attention after it was published on YKA, Sonam’s story finally got the NGO’s administration to take stricter action.

After 2 Years Of Sexual Harassment At The NGO I Worked For, An Apology E-mail Is All I Got

In 2009, I joined as a volunteer for a well-respected environmental NGO, bright-eyed, idealistic, and ready for change. But in 2012, two years after I joined as an employee, my view of this place was completely and utterly undone, when an older male employee repeatedly sexually harassed me, and the senior management didn’t even blink.

14. “I Am Too Queer For Muslims, And Too Muslim For Other Queers”: Conversations With A Queer Muslim

Ramzan With Zehra, our exclusive coverage on this year’s festivities explored some different aspects of Islam. This article, one from the series talked about how religion impacted a Muslim who identified as Queer. “I Am Too Queer For Muslims, And Too Muslim For Other Queers”: Conversations With A Queer Muslim

15. Give A Shit

Raising awareness on India’s sanitation crisis, we brought to you our very first web series that highlighted just how serious the problem of open defecation in the country is. #GiveAShit | The Swacch Web Series | Youth Ki Awaaz

16. The Remarkable Story Of The Man Who Wore A Sanitary Napkin To Help Women Across The Country

In conversation with Arunachalam Muruganantham, we found out about the incredible work he has been doing to break menstrual taboos and stigma as well as making hygienic menstrual products an achievable reality for many rural women in India.
The Remarkable Story Of The Man Who Wore A Sanitary Napkin To Help Women Across The Country

17. Inside Atali: With No Muslims Left, Communal Violence Has Torn Apart Yet Another Village

We uncovered some hard hitting stories when YKA’s Abhishek Jha visited Atali to report how the riot that took place in May had impacted life in the village. Inside Atali: With No Muslims Left, Communal Violence Has Torn Apart Yet Another Village

18. “I Never Knew I Was In An Abusive Relationship Until I Read An Article On Your Site”

Starting a conversation on Intimate Partner Violence with our campaign #BearNoMore with Love Matters, we ran a blogathon inviting stories. As a response to it, a user shared her personal story of living with an abusive partner.

“I Never Knew I Was In An Abusive Relationship Until I Read An Article On Your Site”

19. No One’s Decision But Mine

This year was all about smashing stereotypes, and another important topic we raised was abortion stigma along with CREA. This illustration with Maitri Dore created sparked a massive conversation and has had a reach of 5 million to this date. No One’s Decision But Mine

20. 7 Survivors Break Their Silence On The Trauma Of Sexual Abuse They Faced As Children

More than 53% children in India have faced sexual abuse, and that is why we brought to you these heart-wrenching personal narratives where survivors of child sexual abuse shared their experiences.

7 Survivors Break Their Silence On The Trauma Of Sexual Abuse They Faced As Children

21. Which Way Will The Women Vote In This Bihar Election

With the ‘mother of all elections’ that took place in Bihar this year, the political game saw a change in play. A special coverage ‘Bihar Elections With Ojha’ brought out some important on-ground reporting from our columnist. Which Way Will The Women Vote In This Bihar Election

22. Bihar Ki Baat

To bring to you stories from the grass roots of Bihar, Manira from team YKA travelled to several villages in the state to teach young citizens how to report stories that mattered to them. This video series brought out some very pressing issues.

#BiharKiBaat – A Youth Ki Awaaz Video Series

23. ‘A Young Bleeding Woman’ Pens An Open Letter To The Keepers Of Sabrimala Temple

When 20-year-old Nikita Azad was disturbed by a statement made by the keepers of the 5000-year-old Sabrimala Temple, she decided to raise her voice through this open letter. The letter spiralled into a nationwide campaign called #HappyToBleed within 3 days and started conversations on menstruation taboos in India. Mainstream media too picked this story up and hundreds across the country contributed to smash age-old notions steeped in patriarchy. ‘A Young Bleeding Woman’ Pens An Open Letter To The Keepers Of Sabrimala Temple

Impact:

Nikita Azad On How Her Letter On Youth Ki Awaaz Started The National Campaign #HappyToBleed

24. YKA Investigation: 2 Years Later, This Is How The Muzaffarnagar Riot Survivors Are Living

Abhishek Jha from Youth Ki Awaaz visited Muzaffarnagar 2 years after the riots that took the lives of 50 people. This exclusive ground report is a hard-hitting reality check and details the concerns and conditions of the people living there today. YKA Investigation: 2 Years Later, This Is How The Muzaffarnagar Riot Survivors Are Living

25. YKA Exclusive: What Does The President Of The Cow Protection Army Do? We Met Him To Find Out

Amidst the beef ban and raging intolerance debate in India, Abhimanyu Singh from Youth Ki Awaaz spent a day with Ashoo Mongia, President of the National Cow Protection Army, to find out what they really do. Here’s an exclusive interview with Mongia where he talks about how Hindus contribute to cow slaughter, the ‘Hindu hriday samrat’ Narendra Modi, and more.

What Does The President Of The Cow Protection Army Do? We Met Him To Find Out

26. YKA Investigation: The Promise Of Toilets In Every School Stinks!

In this Youth Ki Awaaz investigation, Abhimanyu Singh visited a few government schools on the outskirts of Delhi to see whether the promise of building toilets (as part of the Swachh Bharat Mission) has been fulfilled or not. YKA Investigation: The Promise Of Toilets In Every School Stinks!

27. ‘He Grabbed My Breast In A Metro Full Of People, And All He Said Was, ‘What Did I Do?’

A woman boldly shared her story of being molested in a packed Delhi metro. This story highlights the need for equal right and safe access to public spaces for people across all genders and when it was published, a few others came out with similar stories on social media.
‘He Grabbed My Breast In A Metro Full Of People, And All He Said Was, ‘What Did I Do?’

28. The Hypocrisy Behind The ‘Swachh Delhi’ App That No One Is Talking About

Abhishek Jha from Youth Ki Awaaz set out to find whether the benefits of Swachh Bharat Mission are really reaching the ones who are most affected. He writes about the reality of manual scavenging in India and shares unheard stories of a few individuals and the deplorable circumstances they are forced to work in each day.

The Hypocrisy Behind The ‘Swachh Delhi’ App That No One Is Talking About

29. India’s ‘Unofficial Blockade’ Of Nepal Is Leading To Its Biggest Humanitarian Crisis Yet

Journalist Deepak Adhikari’s report about the crisis in Nepal at the time of India’s blockade, that India had officially denied. He writes about how Nepal plans to deal with the situation as well as what the repercussions on India could be in the long run. How India’s ‘Unofficial’ Blockade Of Nepal Is Leading To Its Biggest Humanitarian Crisis Yet

30. RTI Reveals Medical Negligence And Faulty Appointments At NIT Durgapur

After the death of Prosenjit Sarkar due to medical negligence by the staff of NIT Durgapur, an RTI investigation uncovers the various other faults with the college’s administration. These are the complete findings.

RTI Reveals Medical Negligence And Faulty Appointments At NIT Durgapur

31. This Is What The Govt. Has Done With The ₹3000 Crore Of The ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ Since 2013

After the horrific gangrape of a woman in a moving bus in Delhi in 2012, the government had sanctioned a fund of Rs 1000 crore per year to improve women’s safety across the country. Abhishek Jha from Youth Ki Awaaz found out where the money has been used (or not used). This Is What The Govt. Has Done With The ₹3000 Crore Of The ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ Since 2013

32. “We Struggled For Justice For 3 Years And What’s The Result? A Convict In The Case Is Being Released On The Anniversary Of My Daughter’s Death”

Asha Devi, mother of Jyoti Singh, speaks to Abhimanyu Singh from Youth Ki Awaaz about their struggle for justice, the release of the juvenile convict and more. “My Only Reason To Live Is To Seek Justice For Her”: Jyoti’s Mother Asha Devi Tells YKA

33. Gang-Raped By 4 Men, Told By A Minister To Not ‘Seek Publicity’: This Is Kashish’s Story

A survivor of rape shares the painful ordeal of fighting for justice amidst police and political apathy.

Gang-Raped By 4 Men, Told By A Minister To Not ‘Seek Publicity’: This Is Kashish’s Story

34. How The Murder Of A Homeless Person Went Unreported In Delhi: The Case Of Anil Paswan

What is the extent of the apathy and class bias that leads to no one caring about Delhi’s homeless? Abhimanyu Singh reports on the pathetic conditions they survive in as he follows up on a murder of a homeless person regarding which not a single complaint was filed.

How The Murder Of A Homeless Person Went Unreported In Delhi: The Case Of Anil Paswan

35. Dear Parineeti, Your Campaign Isn’t Empowering But Body-Shaming Women Who Aren’t Thin

After actor Parineeti Chopra shared photos of her fitter self on social media through a campaign called ‘Built That Way’, Rohini Banerjee from Youth Ki Awaaz wrote an open letter to her about the problematic message of her campaign. This letter led to widespread debate and discussion on social media. Dear Parineeti, Your Campaign Isn’t Empowering But Body-Shaming Women Who Aren’t Thin

36. Are Sons Still Preferred Over Daughters? Watch To Find Out What People In Delhi Said

As part of our campaign with Girls Count, members from team Youth Ki Awaaz asked a series of carefully worded questions to people in Delhi. Their answers portray the stark reality of how differently Indian society treats women as compared to men.

Are Sons Still Preferred Over Daughters? Watch To Find Out What People In Delhi Said

37. This IAS Officer In Bihar Shut Down Discrimination And Superstition With One Simple Move

Abhishek Jha from team Youth Ki Awaaz spoke to Rahul Kumar, the District Magistrate of Gopalganj in Bihar, who set an inspiring example for the entire district. This IAS Officer In Bihar Shut Down Discrimination And Superstition With One Simple Move

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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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