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The Answer To Ending Violence Against Women Has Been In Front Of Us All Along

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By Deepa:

A member of All India Mahila Sanskritik Sanghatan (AIMSS) holds a placard during a demonstration against what they say is violence against women ahead of the International Women's Day, in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad March 6, 2009. The International Women's Day will be celebrated on March 8. REUTERS/Amit Dave (INDIA) - RTXCF65
Image credit: Reuters/Amit Dave.

“Learn this now and learn it well. Like a compass facing north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam.”
― Khaled Hosseini, ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’

Accusing a woman and thrashing her body and soul to pieces; life, of course, is not a bed of roses, especially for a woman. It still is acceptable with thorns embedded in it. But, what if these red flowers change into red blood and thorns take the form of molestations and mutilations? Scary! Isn’t it? Scarier is the reality for the female section of our much-loved globe. With 35% of the world female population being assaulted physically, emotionally, mentally or sexually in some way or the other, reality appears to be hitting really hard and the world seems to be getting a frightening scar right on its pretty face.

Violence against women is one of the most prevalent global issues of contemporary as well as classical times. Ironically, in the human world, where male and female are moulded into the identities of man and woman much through their physical strengths, tenderness and harshness go hand in hand for women. The girls and women are defined to be tender, not built for tedious physical work and their roles are gendered in such a manner that all types of ‘laborious’ outdoor work fall out of their basket. On the other hand, these ‘tender’ women are handled so brutally by the very people who gender them that the attribution of tenderness appears unjustified.

Domestic violence, molestations, rape, FGM/C (female genital mutilation/cutting) and the list goes on. Violence against women has become an everyday reality. Such statements are hard to accept, harder to witness and hardest to experience. But, with harsh practices like female genital mutilation, still being prevalent in parts of the world; with the inhumane attitude of the male section of society towards the opposite sex, such statements seem to summarise a global story.

Violence against women, in some form or the other, appears to be woven into the fabric of all societies. More saddening is the fact that up to seven in every ten women face physical/sexual abuse in some countries of the world. Approximately three million girls under the age of 15 remain at the risk of FGM/C annually as per a WHO report and more than 130 million women and girls have been accounted so far who have already been through the procedure worldwide. The rest of the female population isn’t secure either. More than 700 million women alive today are estimated to have been married as children and this section of women and girls are more vulnerable to domestic violence as well as complications during maternity.

The situation seems quite alarming as these facts come to the limelight because these are not mere figures, these are actual human lives. It’s high time for a makeover now. We need to join hands and say a big ‘No’ to violence against women. A small step was taken by the United Nations in this direction in the year 1995 when the UN and the Inter-Parliamentary Union jointly declared the 25th of November as the day of International Observance for Elimination of Violence against Women. The date―25 November―was chosen to commemorate the three Mirabal sisters, political activists who were brutally assassinated in 1960 under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961) in the Dominican Republic.

Another baby step forward was taken the previous year with the introduction of United Nations’ Secretary General’s ‘UNiTE to End Violence Against Women Campaign’ under the banner of ‘Orange YOUR Neighbourhood’. This was planned to be stretched from 25 November up to 10 December, i.e., The Human Rights Day ― a sixteen-day campaign to end gender-biased violence.
The ‘Orange’ campaign projected the following message:

“Reach out to your neighbours, local stores, food sellers on the corner of your street, gas stations, local cinemas, barbers, school, libraries and post offices. Project orange lights and hang orange flags onto local landmarks, tie orange ribbons where you are allowed and organise local ‘orange marches’ on 25 November to raise awareness about violence against women and discuss solutions that would work for your community.”

It was basically about colouring the world with orange and sending a message to people to realise that women, too, are humans and the they need humane treatment. This indeed was an appreciable effort and measures like these need to be taken to make this world a better place to live in.

Awareness is a fundamental requirement for ending the social evils, crimes and violent practices against women in different parts of the world. The efficiency of women is recognised to a great extent in the growing economies of the world. Approximately 50% of the workforce today are women; women are emerging as some of the most influential personalities in politics, the corporate world, art and many other fields. Girls’ excellence in education is proven by statistics such as those of enrollment which is, for example, 140 and 150 women in America and Sweden in higher education for every 100 men respectively. Various studies have also proven that women are, increasingly, performing better than men in the workplace and in academics. These facts, though, are nullified by cruel acts against, the subjugation of and through frightening the ‘better’ half in this male-oriented world of ours.

To overcome these mentalities we do need awareness campaigns, commemoration days, weeks and fortnights. They are worth the issue. But these things become heartbreaking jokes when a girl is raped in some corner of the globe on that very day. The fear of being hit, raped, molested, killed and strangled is the first feeling of a girl as she steps out of her cocoon into the world. This fear needs to be prevented from becoming a habit for yet another generation to come. Equality, empowerment, opportunity are big words meant to address this big issue. But the very basic need is ‘being human to every other human’ (whether a man or a woman).

More baby steps are to be taken with the hope that slowly the idea of respecting women would become embedded in their male counterparts. We might fall and get hurt but it is always for the better to stand up again. Hands are to be joined and heads held high, to abolish this ‘everyday reality’, to act now, always and forever before it’s too late.

You must be to comment.
  1. The Hulk

    A woman doesn’t feel any love or connection for you besides a fake bond her genetics create to keep her magnetized to the one providing for her. She’s just happy to be your “possession” and only “loves you” because you fulfill her criteria and nobody better has come along.

    If a better male comes along with more money and is famous etc she’ll ditch you, and she won’t feel bad about it WHATSOEVER. A woman’s level of care and consideration towards you exists on a “what have you done for me lately?” level rather than any true affection built up between two people from spending time together.

    A woman is your possession and a direct cause of the things you have. You have good looks, lots of money and fame? You will have a hot woman by your side as your possession. You are with her for 10 years, loving each other every day, then you lose EVERYTHING, your looks, your money, your fame? She’s gone, just like everything else you owned, just like your Ferrari it’s only there as long as you have the resources to KEEP it there, because it’s just an object it feels no “bond” with you.

  2. B

    In this day and age parents don’t circumcise their boys at birth, and when these boys grow up they don’t circumcise them in a hospital under proper anesthesia, instead choose to have their preteen pinned down by relatives as he screams in horror while watching a local barber with a razor in his hand ready to inflict excruciating pain. This is a reality that countless boys go through, and is practiced at a much, much higher rate than FGM.

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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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