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Recent Sexual Violence Cases In Germany Reveal How Misogyny Dictates Our Response To Rape

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By Jason Jayology and Leyla Qalbi Hussein:

What happened on New Year’s Eve in Cologne Germany was a human rights scandal. To date, 497 women have filed complaints, 381 are sexual offenses some filing in tandem. Today there has been three arrests – one 26-year-old man for sexual violence and theft, and two more men for theft arrests. According to journalists a fourth suspect (a Muslim) also being pursued, has fled atrocities mostly created through no fault of his own, and is a refugee. Just ask famous public anti-intellectual Bill Maher who in response to the attacks on his U.S. featured cable television self-righteous fill in the blank television program declared Muslims as a “Misogynistic culture.” He’s not alone. Charlie Hebdo was so animate about the night of sexual violence targeting women, that they responded in the most virile misogynistic way possible.

Illustration by Charlie Hebdo. Translation: “What would have happened to little Aylan if he grew up?” The answer, “A groper of women in Germany.”
Illustration by Charlie Hebdo. Translation: “What would have happened to little Aylan if he grew up?” The answer, “A groper of women in Germany.”

If you want to understand the rapes in Germany, look no further than the Charlie Hebdo publication perverting the meaning of a dead child’s life into xenophobic hate. Look at the so-called representation of brown people-monkeys. Look at what we aren’t discussing. You want to understand rape culture, listen to Bill Maher. Maher and Hebdo exemplify rape culture. See, when men rape, the response by men, is to see how they can discuss anything and everything but…rape. You’ve heard it before ministers saying “Boys will be boys.” If she is Dalit…It didn’t happen. If she is black, what rape. If it happened in university, “What was she drinking” or “Why was she out so late?” If it was in Cologne it must be the “Muslims.” How do they assimilate with all their misogyny? Perhaps the U.S. might be a good example, it’s a nation of immigrants who stole land from indigenous people, manifest genocide and must not have ever assimilated because for all their European Judeo-Christian values. There are over 300,000 rapes and sexual assaults annually according to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network). I digress – which is what happens when you talk about rape, but don’t actually talk about rape because the only time you talk about rape is when it serves some ‘other’-ing agenda. What though would happen if we actually looked at Germany’s rape laws? How Germany prosecutes rapist? What if, I don’t know, look at Germany’s version of say, rape culture?

Supporters of anti-immigration right-wing movement PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) take part in in demonstration rally, in reaction to mass assaults on women on New Year's Eve, in Cologne, Germany, January 9, 2016. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay - RTX21MZW
Source: REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Unless, the facts marginalized are from a different Germany. I want to make sure that the Germany that is proposing deporting refugees in relation to unsubstantiated claims that the totality of violence against women on New Year’s was committed by refugees is the same Germany whose rape laws stipulate that “no” doesn’t exactly mean “no” when applied to unwanted sexual advances? Maybe that’s a different Germany? The Western press aptitude for geography as proven by the invasion of Iraq isn’t too strong, perhaps they mean Austria, or Holland when they say Germany? This can’t be the Germany whose rape laws stipulate and necessitate a burden of proof on the survivor to make evident that there was physical violence during the rape, opposed to the type of rape that isn’t brutally invasive beyond the prefacing lack of consent. I know that sounds sensational until you visit the 2012 case of a 15-year-old girl whose rapist was freed by an Essen court because the rape wasn’t violent enough. This decision in Essen probably helps one comprehend the overlooked reality that Germany’s Criminal Section 177 that defines rape is so narrow it barely fits the guidelines of the definition of rape stipulated by the EU’s Istanbul Convention. Still, Germany’s progressive laws regarding rape were updated way, way, back in 1997 when martial rape was finally outlawed.

 

Now factor in if we are talking about the same Germany in which rape can be governed by deportation, it is going to be lightening its homegrown population as understood by the continuous and steady increase in reported rapes by 6.5 percent annually since 2011. I do believe 2011 predates any mass migrations to Germany of peoples from Middle Eastern, South Asian or African regions.

I want make sure we’re talking about the Germany in which last year a Muslim Turkish girl heard a woman screaming for help from a restroom in a busy restaurant while patrons ignored the pleas. I want to make sure it’s the Germany in which the same woman entered the restroom to find two men raping a woman while patrons sat by and did nothing. I want to make sure it’s the same Germany in which after the young woman was cared for by the Turkish Muslim young woman. We’re talking about the same Germany in which that Turkish Muslim young woman walked out of that restaurant to find the same rapists in the parking lot carrying bats, where they beat her to death, spelling out tragedy of a life deferred on the concrete in a river of blood.

What better way to deal with rapists than to deport them? Then the rapists can go rape somewhere else. Problem solved. Where should they be sent? Perhaps the United States where when a celebrity rapes a 13-year-old girl, like Roman Polanski he galvanizes the Hollywood elites advocacy? Where celebrities get a pass like Woody Allen, when his daughter accuses him of molestation, years after he marries the adopted daughter he so famously sat on his lap during public events? Still there is less outcry in support for Cosby, which means that the media and Hollywood are racist, and that reality — which true, exonerates the reality of Cosby raping women… Because that is what activists do, they rape women. Unless you consider Malcolm X who left the Nation of Islam when he found out Elijah Muhammad was raping young sectaries despite giving his life in service to the man. I digress, he was murdered and remains a villain marginalized from history who happens to be a Muslim, who stood up and spoke out for human rights, black nationalism, pan-Africanism, and against rape, while having never committed a single act of violence, causing a massive rift with the people who worked with the CIA to end his life.

What were we talking about? Refugees? Deportations? Celebrities? Oh, right, rape. Yes, when men command modes of public trust, they have an amazing capacity to deflect the public attention away from reflecting on who controls the medium and what the message is don’ t they? So, the white supremacist media, that only talks about rape when in context of its agenda is run by who? Right, men. The argument becomes about what? Everything but the central points that no matter where a woman goes the number one threat to her humanity are men. Just as an anecdote, who are the Syrians fleeing…Is it a man? Who created the conflict from its colonial roots through the present day crisis…Men. Who despite there being a UN resolution 1325 stipulating that more women need to be present and active during peace discussions still aren’t present at the peace discussions-women. Who runs that that misogynistic and racist enterprise we call Hollywood? That would also be men. Why do women like Angelia Merkel deflect to dismantling the inadvisability and inalienability of human rights to score centrist points? “Misogyny knows no gender..” What’s at the root, of the root, of all of this? I think it is time we start to address misogyny in all its forms and how it has diseased every institution on earth. It’s time get serious about addressing ourselves as men, about understanding misogyny, about dismantling our so-called “free and fair” press, and the Hollywood, Bollywood, Nollywood, and every any institution commercially funded or linked to hyper-masculine misogyny. It’s time reductive counter-revolutionary thinking becomes revolutionary proactive thinking in action. How many babies need to wash up on shores, women need to get raped, girls need to disappear, migrant workers and domestic workers need to be murdered, and ecosystem destroyed before we decide to pull the root of the root up?

About the author: Leyla Hussein writes for Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan magazine and The Guardian. She is a Psychotherapist and a multi-award winning campaigner on FGM and gender rights including Cosmopolitan Ultimate Campaigner Women of the Year Award 2010, in 2011 she won the Emma Humphrey Award, The Lin Groves Special Award for her work in raising awareness of violence against women and children, she received 2012 True Honour Award “by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Right organisation for recognising her work on preventing honour-based violence, protecting victims/survivors and bringing perpetrators to justice. She received World peace and Prosperity Foundation award 2013.
She was included in the BBC 100 women list of 2013, recently voted 6th in the Woman’s Hour 2014 Power List, Currently named RedLine magazine women of the year 2014 and Debbets 500 list of most influential in the UK. She co-founded Daughters Of Eve who are working to protect girls and young women at risk from FGM. She advises the UK-wide Tackling FGM Initiative, Desert flower foundation, and Honor Dairies organisation and sits on Her Majesty’s Inspectorate Of Constabulary advisory group on Honour Base Violence.

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  1. Guru

    I have not witnessed an article so full of hate against men and Muslims in a long time. (I didn't know rapists belonged to a certain religion). Of course feminists refrain from pointing out how false cases of rape prevail, how women consent to sex, then regret it the next morning and accuse men of rape, the lynching of men in India after false cases of rape, when majority of registered cases are found to have been made up either to settle personal agenda or extort money.

  2. Guru

    It is misandry which dictates our response, which is why there is no jail sentence for those women who file false cases of rape. When a man loses his dignity and honour and job after being falsely accused, no one cares. It is a severe case of blatant misandry. Media never highlights the rampant false cases of rape, as it only works for TRPs, and that is only possible covering women's issues, showing one side of the coin. Stop the misandry. Stop the discrimiation against men. We will leave female on male rape for a later discussion.

  3. Jigsaw

    Father freed after a decade in jail as daughter admits she lied about him raping her when she was 11

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2124170/Cassandra-Kennedy-Father-freed-decade-jail-daughter-admits-lied-raping-11.html#ixzz3xJVBcUWC

    Cops raid her home to find her husband, apparently accused of a crime, she CRIES rape by Cops! They plead innocence

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/agra/Woman-accuses-3-cops-who-raided-house-of-rape/articleshow/46148533.cms

    Classic case of rape law misuse: False gang rape

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/a-classic-case-of-misuse-of-rape-laws/article4561657.ece

    Journalist arrested in false gang rape case

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/Journalists-arrested-in-Ghaziabad-gang-rape-case/articleshow/30751752.cms

    Delhi woman misuses rape law, held for extortion

    http://news.oneindia.in/feature/2013/delhi-woman-misuses-rape-law-held-for-extortion-1259736.html

    Men who face false rape charges – BLOG

    http://creative.sulekha.com/men-who-face-false-rape-charges_486653_blog

    Rape filed when husband discovered wife coming out of someone else's house

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Bombay-High-court-upholds-rape-acquittal/articleshow/23928047.cms

    Punishment for falling in LOVE

    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-10-06/ahmedabad/42763164_1_16-year-old-girl-two-firs-amraiwadi

    Consensual Sex of Four years turned Rape

    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-10-09/gurgaon/42861203_1_ashok-kumar-district-and-sessions-judge-high-court

    Sexual Adventure turned Rape

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Delhi-man-acquitted-of-rape-charges/articleshow/23927246.cms

    Love, Sex and Dhokha…..all given the name of Rape

    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-10-02/mumbai/42614448_1_nude-pictures-woman-former-lover

    Girl Pregnant, Property Dispute among neighbours, RAPE charge is the Solution

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/man-accused-of-raping-neighbour-acquitted-by-court/1134641/

    Father and Daughter both retract from their statements of Rape, refuse to identify accused

    http://news.oneindia.in/new-delhi/girl-resiles-from-statement-3-acquitted-in-gang-rape-case-1301948.html

    A false rape case by a MAID on an 82 year Old employer, Court issues guidelines to placement agencies

    http://www.indiatvnews.com/crime/news/82-year-old-delhi-man-acquitted-of-charge-of-raping-18-year-old–3257.html

    Got pregnant with consent, but she was raped

    http://www.firstpost.com/fwire/delhi-man-acquitted-of-raping-deaf-and-dumb-woman-848235.html

    Settlement after Rape…or Rape charges for settlement

    http://www.rediff.com/news/report/5-jamia-law-students-acquitted-of-rape-charges/20130805.htm

    She stayed with cousin with her own 'sweet will' but it was a rape for the girls father

    http://www.indiatvnews.com/news/india/delhi-court-acquits-youth-accused-of-raping-15-year-old-cousin-24190.html

    Court acquits man of Rape, wants curb on False cases

    http://www.northindiakaleidoscope.com/court-acquits-man-of-rape-charge-wants-curbs-on-false-cases/

    Rape on a Road Side???

    http://bharatchugh.wordpress.com/tag/rape-case-acquittal/

    Unable to pay debt, father coerces daughter to file a rape case. 13 years. Another accused woman dies during pendency of the case.

    http://law.geekupd8.com/2013/09/Supreme-Court-Acquits-two-from-the-False-Rape-charges-and-also-warns-lower-courts-to-beware-of-False-Rape-cases.html

    Two brothers acquitted. If there would have been three, charges would have been on three, four, five…..

    http://www.deccanherald.com/content/340855/two-brothers-acquitted-gang-rape.html

    Teacher-Student infatuation, baby born out of it, Rape case filed anonymously …acquitted

    http://m.indiatoday.in/story/bombay-high-court-acquits-teacher-of-raping-class-10-student/1/267757.html

    Rape filed to force the boy into marriage

    http://www.kashmirmonitor.in/news-youth-acquitted-of-raping-robbing-lover-54621.aspx

    Acquitted after 11 years of struggle

    http://post.jagran.com/supreme-court-acquits-two-persons-in-11yearold-gang-rape-case-1344437990

    Dispute over property, turned rape by a young empowered woman against an elderly senior citizen

    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-28/delhi/40848274_1_false-cases-false-allegation-anita

    They raped but dropped her home. Then her father slapped her. Then she slept. Then police found her. OMG.

    http://www.amarujala.com/news/crime-bureau/two-men-arrested-in-safdarjang-enclave-gangrape-case/

    No words….First elope with boyfriend then charge him with rape.

    http://www.amarujala.com/news/crime-bureau/man-raped-minor-girl-in-hydrabad-hotel/

    Medical examination declares no rape, claim of sedation also false, still FIR registered

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Madurai-woman-claims-she-was-raped-by-boyfriend-3-others/articleshow/28497480.cms

    Rape on pretext of Job, marriage and many other promises

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/Woman-alleges-rape-by-property-dealer/articleshow/28157671.cms?intenttarget=no

    Girl agrees rape complaint was false as boyfriend turns husband

    http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-woman-admits-her-rape-charge-false-as-boyfriend-turns-husband-1858814

    Consensual sex turned rape, Judge says women should sleep before marriage at their own peril

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Premarital-sex-immoral-no-religion-permits-it-Court/articleshow/28424592.cms

    Raped continuously for a year by facebook friend

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/Facebook-friend-rapes-woman-promising-marriage-in-Surat/articleshow/28445845.cms

    Thrown out of Job, files rape case against 8 people

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/gurgaon/Multinational-companys-director-accused-of-rape/articleshow/28484810.cms?intenttarget=no

    Rape cases conviction low because of false complaints : Mumbai Commissioner of Police

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Rape-convictions-low-because-of-false-complaints-Police-commissioner-Satya-Pal-Singh/articleshow/25609124.cms

    Don't always believe rape victims evidence : Supreme Court of India

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NewDelhi/Don-t-always-believe-rape-victims-evidence-SC/Article1-1124474.aspx

    CRY RAPE: http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/nation/cry-rape

    False cases behind Delhi's tag of RAPE CAPITAL: Judge, Delhi Court

    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-27/india/40832087_1_maid-false-cases-additional-sessions-judge-virender

    Woman arrested for extortion after filing 11 false rape cases

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/woman-who-filed-11-rape-cases-held-on-charge-of-extorting-an-accused/1141887/1

    90% of rape cases in Kishanganj False: SP

    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-01-04/patna/36148093_1_bahadurganj-police-kishanganj-sp-complaint-cases

    74% percent cases consensual sex turned into rape: Pune Police

    http://www.punemirror.in/index.aspx?page=article&sectid=62&contentid=201004282010042800020376672f460c5

    Fake rape victims danger to society: Court

    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-07-17/india/32713694_1_district-court-delhi-court-real-victims

    Be Vigilant against false cases: HC tells trial court judges

    http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/newdelhi/be-vigilant-against-false-rape-cases-hc-to-trial-judges/article1-1065107.aspx

    Boyfriend, his friends also in false rape trap….O Boyzzz so sorry for you!

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Madurai-woman-claims-she-was-raped-by-boyfriend-3-others/articleshow/28497480.cms

    Consensual relationship, pregnancy, then Rape

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nashik/Doctor-arrested-after-nurse-alleges-rape-over-two-years/articleshow/21152808.cms?intenttarget=no

    BLOOMING THREAT IN AN AGE OF JUDICIAL CONSENT

    http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/tamil_nadu/The-blooming-threat-in-an-age-of-judicial-consent/2013/07/02/article1662956.ece

    GO GOA and then GO crying rape

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/Hyderabad-girl-accuses-friend-of-raping-her/articleshow/20723131.cms

    Rape victims brother is the child's biological father

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/indore/Rape-victims-real-brother-is-her-childs-biological-father/articleshow/20756347.cms

    Women misuse rape law to force lovers to marry them: Delhi HC

    http://ibnlive.in.com/news/women-misuse-rape-law-to-force-lovers-to-marry-them-delhi-high-court/393929-3.html

    This article basically nails the trend. Tougher rape law leading to increase in false cases?

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Tougher-rape-law-leading-to-increase-in-false-cases/articleshow/30807940.cms

    'Fake' rape cases reported as Love Turns Sour: Ranchi Police

    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-05-18/ranchi/39353985_1_police-station-investigation-police-officer

  4. Max Murx

    You don't have to go so far for finding false rape accusations (and more):
    Quote:
    I want make sure we’re talking about the Germany in which last year a Muslim Turkish girl heard a woman screaming for help from a restroom in a busy restaurant while patrons ignored the pleas.
    I want to make sure it’s the Germany in which the same woman entered the restroom to find two men raping a woman while patrons sat by and did nothing.
    I want to make sure it’s the same Germany in which after the young woman was cared for by the Turkish Muslim young woman.
    We’re talking about the same Germany in which that Turkish Muslim young woman walked out of that restaurant to find the same
    rapists in the parking lot carrying bats, where they beat her to death, spelling out tragedy of a life deferred
    on the concrete in a river of blood. End of Quote

    In fact some male and female adolescents exchanged insults (without touching each other) in the restrooms of a local MacDonald Restaurant.
    The later victim tried to intervene by shouting at the (Muslim) males, insulting them, calling one of them “Son of a whore”.
    The situation was solved by two other men forcing the adolescents out of the restaurant.
    The girls however followed them and the later victim repeated her insult.
    One of the adolescents then gave her slap into the face by which she fell
    backwards, hitting the curbstone in a way she suffered cerebral bleeding.
    She didn't recover and after a few weeks medical treatment, including artificial ventilation,
    was halted. The guy giving her a slap into the face recently was convicted for aggravated assault and
    injury caused by negligence. Everything had been recorded by the MacDonalds security cameras, so the so called
    “Tugce Case” became quite well known in Germany (those recordings also are available on YouTube). Although this was
    a tragic case, no rape occured, neither in the rest rooms, nor in the parking lot.#
    http://www.focus.de/panorama/welt/tugce-prozes-in-darmstadt-zeugin-tugce-und-freundinnen-wurden-belaestigt_id_4642349.html

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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