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YKA Contributors Answer Our Call To #RaiseYourVoice Against Section 377, And How!

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By YKA Staff

As the Supreme Court heard a curative petition to reconsider its judgement on Section 377 that criminalises homosexuality in the country, loud and clear messages were heard demanding a scrapping of this draconian law.

Joining us on Youth Ki Awaaz were some of the most powerful voices in the country who spoke on why it is imperative that the SC rethink its decision.

And the same call, to #RaiseYourVoice against this injustice that denies a life of dignity to many Indians was heard and raised by our most amazing readers.

Our community of contributors at Youth Ki Awaaz sent in an overwhelming number of messages, expressing their thoughts on Section 377, showing us just how powerful it is to #RaiseYourVoice.

Here are some of the comments we received:

Image Source: Reuters
Image Source: Reuters

“In this day and age, when we are trying to become multi-planetary species, invent cures for hitherto incurable diseases and creating technology that has never been thought of before, if as a nation we’re criminalize, RE-CRIMINALIZE (absurd!), a natural act and deem it as ‘unnatural’ then we are doomed.

Just the fact that it is happening in our society, with people without any artificial interventions is proof that what section 377 wishes to criminalize is in fact natural.”

– Sneheel Biswal

“I think Section 377 is a violation of our right to freedom, choice and equality. It’s no one else’s business to decide who I want to love, and living in a progressive world, any intervention from the “law” in my personal choices aren’t accepted. I hope section 377 is scrapped so people with different choices are treated equally and not as criminals.”

– Priyanka Gupta

“A person should have the right to decide his/her own sexuality, the way he/she wants to live one’s life, and to marry the person they want to.”

– Vimal Khanna 

Gay rights activists shout slogans during a protest against the verdict by the Supreme Court in Mumbai December 15, 2013. India's Supreme Court on Wednesday reinstated a ban on gay sex in the world's largest democracy, following a four-year period of decriminalisation that had helped bring homosexuality into the open in the socially conservative country. In 2009 the Delhi High Court ruled unconstitutional a section of the penal code dating back to 1860 that prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal" and lifted the ban for consenting adults. The Supreme Court threw out that decision, saying only parliament could change Section 377 of the penal code, widely interpreted to refer to homosexual sex. Violation of the law can be punished with up to 10 years in jail. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui (INDIA - Tags: LAW SOCIETY) - RTX16JJD
REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

“The rights of LGBT community are not fixed up to sexual rights but it includes privacy rights, right to respect, right to honour, right to dignity, right to pride, right to equality, right to life and liberty, right to non-discrimination, right to Constitutional right, right to legal right, etc. Let India rise with equality and respect.”

– Mukesh Bharti 

“The American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from its official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973. In 1967, homosexual acts were decriminalized in England and Wales.

Around 22 countries, including UK, allow same-sex marriages. So why is India still stuck with a colonial law? It is because we have hypocritical politicians. It is time to speak up. To free love from narrow interpretations of culture and religion by the uninformed majority.

This law is forcing the LGBT+ community into closeted lives and blighted marriages. Unfortunately, even psychiatrists, who should know better, are biased against LGBTs; they encourage conformity to ‘norms’. It is time to show up their narrow mindsets in the light of reason and logic.”

– Anand Rao

pride parade cropped“If we demand a right to be able to wear the clothes of our choice, eat the food of our choice, then marrying the person of our choice should not be a problem.

Since time unknown, anything that went against the ways of those in power has been considered wrong, but human beings are a complex species; if we acknowledge the fact that different people have different opinions, then we must also understand that different people have different choices, even in terms of sexuality.

If honour killings are criminal, then so is barring two lovers from being together; if rapes are criminal, then so is forcing a homosexual against their will.

Criminalizing homosexuality has affected the viewpoint of the society towards them. We need this decriminalization to happen in order to save the sanctity of human rights!”

– Pratibha Agarwal

“Every individual has rights under the constitution of India to live, choose their partners. It does not matter whether he or she chooses same sex partners or different. SC should scrap this law. I am totally in favour of this.”

– Onkar Nath

“The Supreme Court should scrap Section 377 because only love can fight hatred. We are already living in a world of unfairness, injustice and violence. And we do not need more of that. By scrapping section 377, we are taking a step towards accepting one another for who we really are. We are bringing in change and difference in society. We will create a generation of children that will look beyond difference, a generation of children that will learn acceptance and take it forward with them. Moreover, we are giving the LGBT community the right to love freely and fearlessly. Love always has a positive domino effect, the more people are free to love, the more people will love, and the more the love will spread. Scrapping 377 is the path to acceptance, it is the path to a more tolerant and beautiful India.”

– Meera Pattni

lgbt 2“I support homosexuality not because I’m gay but it’s completely natural to be gay. Homosexual behaviour is observed in 1500 species but bigotry is found in only one, what seems more natural now?

I feel that Section 377 of the Indian penal code which criminalizes consensual non penile-vaginal intercourse between adults should be amended because it’s completely unconstitutional. It violates my right to privacy (guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution). Not only that, Section 377 has caused many problems.

Some of us were blackmailed and asked for ransom. A law which is a danger for 2.5 million gays (Govt told the
Supreme court in 2012 ) should be amended. It’s high time that India should make a change in Section 377 and let people live their life in their own way.”

– Ankush Gupta

“There’s a reason why the narrow often accompanies the straight;
The path can give its travellers a stiff gait.

If only one dared to steer,
What earlier seemed queer

Would appear as the same blackbird that can be seen
In ways no fewer, if not more, than thirteen.

So before pronouncing judgment on your equal born
Tell me if you see the same face in the mirror every morn.”

– Ankita Anand 

At Youth Ki Awaaz, we believe that “public opinion is the new superpower”, and our contributors prove it time and again. It is heart-warming to receive such a response, and if we all join in to raise our voice, then change is definitely possible.

If you haven’t used your superpower yet, what are you waiting for? Write to us now!

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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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