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The World Is Headed Towards This Grim Reality If The ISIS Continues To Grow

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By Shasya Goel

I had never thought I would relive my experience of reading George Orwell’s ‘1984’ in real life. Anyone who has read this masterpiece cannot miss the uncanny resemblance between ‘Ingsoc’, the English Socialist Party of the totalitarian Government of Oceania, talked about in the book, and the militant organisation Islamic State Of Iraq And Syria (ISIS), the self-declared Islamic caliphate that has spread its fangs the world over.

In the book, one is introduced to a faction called the ‘Thought Police’ that works for the government, in order to exterminate ‘thought criminals’, that is, persecute individualism and independent thinking that goes against the ideologies of the Socialist Party. Posters of the unknown yet omniscient leader, ‘Big Brother’, bearing the caption “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU,” meets the eye everywhere, as telescreens, hidden microphones, and revolving cameras installed in houses and on streets monitor the public and private lives of people. Kids are brainwashed into believing that Big Brother loves them and cares for them more than their parents, and that it is their duty to report against ‘unbelievers’, people who abandon their previous loyalty, renouncing their faith in the party’s regime.

Reading about it in a book is all fine; until one day, you actually see the world being controlled by a tyrannical monster organisation, which knows no language, except one of violence. Less than a month back, a 20-year-old ISIS militant named Ali Saqr al-Qasem publicly executed his mother, shooting her in the head with an assault rifle, accusing her of apostasy – a crime most heinous to the principles of the terror group.

Nasir, a 12-year-old escapee, was one of the 60 children being trained to operate as suicide bombers in the terror group’s de facto capital Raqqa. “When they were training us, they would tell us our parents were unbelievers and that our first job was to go back and kill them,” he spoke during an interview with CNN.

Each time I’m reminded of the slogan of the dictatorial party (Ingsoc) in the book, a chill runs down my spine as I realize the extent to which it echoes the political ideology of ISIS in its true essence. “War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength.” “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

One can foresee the inevitability of a dystopian regime taking over the reins, and controlling our future as in the present. A short while ago, ISIS warned Britain of an attack more severe than the Paris strikes, saying the country will receive the “lion’s share” of the slaughter for its “declaration of war against Muslims”. It warned of an attack on Britain so severe that it will ‘turn children’s hair white’.

Killing the people of another nation to avenge the deaths of those killed in your country, is committing the same crime twice. It may serve a political purpose, but even so can it ever be justified on humanitarian grounds?

The reason cited by mujahideens for carrying out a chain of ruthless beheadings and bloody massacres is that they want to turn the ‘unbelievers’ into followers of Islam. Translated in simple language, this means that they want 7.3 billion people to follow their religion unquestioningly, and convert from the religion they’ve been following since birth into one that is being imposed upon them. Can the jihadis do the same if they were asked to renounce Islam?

Moreover, the sheer impracticality of eliminating all religions that ever existed, to conform people like herds into a single religious sect, brings one to the realization that there is more than that meets the eye. Under the cover of religion, these pious devotees who claim to be the true followers of prophet Mohamed, identify the martyrs as young men who “divorced the worldly life” to die in the path of Allah to support the cause of true religion. If war is their true religion, and this is the condition we find ourselves when they follow it; then we need to redefine what religion stands for. What comes across clearly is their hunger for power and dominance that overrides other claims of conversion and safeguarding religion. Religion, in this case, appears to be used as a crafty ploy for expanding the authority and regime of this fascist party, which wants to completely take over the world and become an unchallenged superpower.

This world would be a haven if only people would stop bombarding and drilling holes in each other to create bodies of bloody artwork, chiselled by guns and knives as tools to carve out chilling images. They produce artefacts dressed in the filth of their souls, embellished in flesh and blood that once throbbed with life, as they play out for all of us to see what hell looks like on earth. Till when will this nightmare haunt us? Is this the kind of world that will give birth to newborn souls who’ll open their eyes to see blood splattered on walls, instead of toys in a cradle?

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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, 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.

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