This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shrenik Mutha. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

To The Classmate Who Harassed Me In The Name Of “Plain Fun”

By Shrenik Mutha:

Ragging At a Law College
Source: Flickr/Steven Roberge.

I joined a law college as a student. During the last term, I faced harassment and ragging by a classmate. The ragging was based on questions and issues about my body and sexuality. The issue was taken up after a formal complaint was filed. However, due to ‘procedural’, ‘technical’ issues of law (to be read as delay in any action by the institution) I was asked to submit a post-dated complaint which I refused to do. At the same time, some individual faculty members stood by me, helping me through the process. To all of them, salaam.

Had the complaint been taken to its logical conclusion, there would have been a criminal case and the police would be involved, which was not a solution for the problem at hand. I wanted to find a solution which did not look at vindication, justice for me was not that. I wanted to talk about it, start a dialogue so that this would not happen again. Not to another person. I wanted to see if there was a way that a person could be made to recognise his fault and stop harassing. To see if there was a way to stop all those who were party to the act, all those who laughed when there were questions about my body and sexuality.

I confronted the people who were either spreading this practice or even abetted it by being mere onlookers. I asked for a letter of apology from the person responsible for the same. It was my gender and caste privilege, being a baniya male, a privilege of coming from a community which has become powerful through oppressing the marginalised communities, that I was able to confront them and talk straight and see where it went without institutional support. Recognising this privilege is not to say that people from marginalised communities would not have spoken or fought back; maybe they would have even more strongly. But in my case, it was my privilege that enabled me to do this.

For the apology letter, he kept postponing it. The excuse given was ‘my head is not working’. Finally, I recognised that the fear of me using it as evidence against him was preventing him from giving me the apology letter. I never wanted to blackmail him but I needed to be sure that this would not happen again, that no one else would do this again. I let it go, but, the trouble and fear inside me due to this incident stayed. I used to be scared to enter the classroom every morning. I used to feel a sense of fear growing inside me. This had to be stopped. I tried writing about it.

This is an attempt at responding to all of those who were a part of ensuring that I was ragged on the pretext of ‘it was just plain fun and humour’. I wrote this piece as a response to them.

There were people who stood by me then, who supported me. To each one of them, thank you for standing up for me. Lots of love to all of them.

I Speak In Colour

My ‘big’ butt sticks out like a balloon pressed against a wall,
way out of proportion in the caricature you made of me on
one of the last benches. I guess you were looking through
your high powered brahmanised spectacle, wondering what
would make me cringe, your brahmanised lenses look
at my brahmanised body, disallowing me to liberate in
the many colours that I reclaim through the ‘kalamkari’
I adorn every day.

Maybe, the colours make you cringe,
the brightness makes your eyes shut
you could have closed your eyes.
you could have shut them and let me live in colour
with a big butt you did not have to stare at.
I guess,
maybe you just wanted to look
and stare and dream of the copulation of two rigid bodies
meeting, fitting like plumbed pipes that enter one into the other.
My friend, did that turn you on?

I wasn’t interested.
I wasn’t willing to enter your room.
And yet I trusted, bare conversations and ideas, the legacy
of people’s struggles who died asserting differences, colours.
I disregarded instincts which came one after another
through experiences of betrayal and yet opened to the idea
of facilitating you uncover your truth.

But, you?
You just used this to create subjects of ‘humour’,
your sinister laughter still rings in my ear and I cringe again.
Did you know, humour could also be fucking offensive?
And then you went about announcing in whispers
to solitary individuals, none of whom stood up
as to how I was to be ‘cured’ in and out.
From in-of the disease you said ‘infects’ you in hiding but wait,
your ‘dis-ease’, as you think, is not one. I wanted to tell you this and you had no courage to listen.
Does your heteronormative lover know now that you did what you did – shamed me, forcing me to
think that my ‘out’ had defects, waiting to be cosmetically removed, modified, changed.
I guess not.
But you know what that did to me, you crushed my spirit which helped me
assert myself, find my beauty in differences.
A brahmanised institution stood to your defence, not on the face of it
but, they stayed becoming a complacent authority too busy to speak.

But you know, you forgot the power of solidarity – of listening ears, of burning hearts,
of shouts and cries, you forgot that people live in colour, making it their strength. But you?
you shall never move beyond your black and white sophistications. So stay.
But, I will be as I am.
You won’t find here another narrative of vulnerability, of fear, of scare, of silencing.
For now, I speak again
and this once, I speak in colour.

You must be to comment.
  1. Monistaf

    Mr. Mutha – Since you are a student of law, please check IPC section 354 which is a law that is supposed to protect you from harassment, sexual or otherwise.
    Unfortunately, you are the wrong gender, and the law DOES NOT apply to you. In India, only a woman deserves to be protected, you are part of the evil, though mythical patriarchy
    and can only be a perpetrator, not a victim. I can sympathize with your experience as another human being, but the law does nothing for you.

More from Shrenik Mutha

Similar Posts

By Rohit Malik

By reshma rawat

By Niraj Pandey

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below