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“It Was Just A Dog That Died”: Don’t Animal Lives Matter To Us?

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By Amit Ranat:

Our great national leader once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” In our country, India, few animals are treated in a safe manner. And no one cares to fight for animals rights excepting a handful of NGOs and real animal lovers who devote their lives to animals. Last year, we saw the Environment Minister give legal rights to kill Nilgai in Bihar to save crops. Though other methods can be used to save crops, but it now justifies the killing Nilgai. Nilgai meat can’t be used for export and making money probably due to which there are little efforts to save it. On the other hand, illegal killings will take place on a large scale due to this new rule. Is it a sign of a great nation that animal cruelty takes place on a large scale?

We saw just a year back that scores of street dogs were killed in Kerala. This created an uproar among animal lovers and on social media, thousands of animal lovers boycotted Kerala for their holidays unless this was stopped. After huge efforts by die-hard animal lovers and NGOs working for animals rights, the Supreme Court ordered Kerala not to kill any street dogs and instead carry out sterilisation drives for better results. But what about the scores of street dogs and puppies which were killed ruthlessly? India can never be a great nation if we have few animal lovers and cruelty towards animals continues.

I remember reading newspaper reports a month back about a forest department employee in Assam named Mohit Chandra Talukdar who was arrested in Dhemaji district and was caught red handed with 66 lakhs in cash along with ivory and tiger skin. What can we say if the saviour of animals becomes the killer? In parts of India, elephants are killed for their tusks. Cruelty against elephants continues in the name of religion in some regions in Kerala even today.

A couple of weeks back, near my residence a cab driver hit a two-month-old puppy, who I would feed and play with daily, due to his careless driving in the society compound even though there were nearly five to six speed breakers. According to the cab driver, he was at the speed of 20 km/hour. Now, I wonder how the pup could have died if he was driving so slowly. When I argued with him, his answer was, “Why we are creating such a big issue out of this, it was just a dog that died?” His attitude showed that, for him, it was like hitting a non-living thing. No value was attached to the life of the little puppy by him.

We tried complaining to customer care office of that cab service, but the answer we got was shocking. “You can do whatever you want to in this case.” This shows that they have no fear. Only we were sad about the death of the playful little dog. And though we had several eyewitnesses, we were unable to take any steps. It is because we felt it wouldn’t be hard for the driver to prove that it was an accident. Besides, our country has no strict laws for the culprit. The fine for cruelty towards animals is just Rs. 50 and laws have barely changed since 1960. Due to these reasons, animal lovers and people fighting for animal rights have an uphill task on their hands.

Recently, a video on social media went viral where a little pup was thrown down from a terrace by two Chennai medical students. Within a couple of hours, animal lovers all over with the help of social media were successful in identifying those two culprits and even the police in Chennai came forward with their support. But the question is this: how dare two medical students throw a living puppy barely five months old from a terrace? Did they not fear any consequences? While they were arrested within two days of the incident, they were out on bail within hours. There are no strict laws for animal safety. Animal lovers are fighting hard for justice for this little puppy even today. It must be noted that thanks to the efforts of animal lovers in Chennai, this little dog was found and treated. Thank God, this puppy did not die.

The Indian Prime Minister appears to be doing well on several fronts but, sadly, his government seems to be failing in saving our animals and implementing strict laws against cruelty towards animals.

Featured image credit: Gireesh Gv/The India Today Group/Getty Images.

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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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