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Why These 5 Politicians Need To Mind Their (Abusive) Language

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By Badrul Duja:

At a time when India is considered the next big thing in the world, divisive and unethical politics has started in India. This happened especially after the BJP formed its government at the Centre and thanks to their soft stand against their leaders who have time and again attempted to damage the social fabric of the Indian people. UP BJP’s vice president Dayashankar Singh recently said that Mayawati “was worse than a prostitute”. The next day, he was fired from his post due to his unethical and sexist remarks. Perhaps it’s not a new thing for all of us. Such shameful remarks appear to be the norm in BJP in the last two years. We witnessed several leaders from the BJP, Shiv Sena etc. making abusive, sexist, racist and communal remarks against their political rivals and people. Dayashankar Singh’s remark is the perfect example of the culture in politics that the BJP leadership appears to be promoting for the last two years.

From Subramanian Swamy to Giriraj Singh, from Sadhvi Prachi to Gen. V.K. Singh, from Yogi Adityanath to Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, from Sakshi Maharaj to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, BJP leaders must mind their language. They have contributed enough to divide India along the lines of religion, caste or sex.

Giriraj Singh

Union Minister and BJP MP from Bihar, Giriraj Singh appears to be openly spreading hatred and racism in India and outside India too. In 2015, Giriraj Singh had asked, “Had Rajiv Gandhi married a Nigerian woman and if she was not a white-skinned woman, would the Congress have then accepted her leadership?” According to him, therefore, because Sonia Gandhi was ‘white-skinned’, she was accepted. This racist remark not only embarrassed the Central government, it embarrassed the whole of India as the Nigerian Ambassador demanded an apology from him over his racist remark. The same Union Minister spewed venom against those who wouldn’t vote for PM Modi. He said that Modi’s critics should go to Pakistan.

Yogi Adityanath

BJP MP from UP and Union Minister Yogi Adityanath is leaving no stone unturned in spreading venom especially against the Muslims of India. Sometimes, he asks Shah Rukh Khan to migrate to Pakistan, sometimes he appeals to Hindu girls not to marry Muslim boys. If a Muslim girl marries a Hindu boy, he is happy. If a Hindu girl marries a Muslim boy, its ‘love jihad’, therefore, he is not happy. He comfortably compares Shah Rukh Khan with Hafiz Saeed and blames Muslims for communal violence. Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley and PM Modi hardly ever dare to stop him from spreading such hatred.

Sadhvi Prachi

VHP leader Sadhvi Prachi is enjoying her honeymoon period of spreading Hindutva extremism in India without any hindrances. She offered 50 lakh rupees for Zakir Naik’s death without thinking about any consequences, which would be mostly divisive and communal. Prachi Ji publicly confessed that she is working for making India a Muslim-free land. It feels like she is working to make a separate state for Indian Muslims like Pakistan. Sometimes she advises Indian people to boycott the movies of the three Khans as she feels they are promoting ‘love jihad’. She had something to say about our parliamentarians as well when she said that some Muslim parliamentarians are terrorists. She bravely calls M.K. Gandhi a ‘British agent‘ and no one from the GOI or from BJP, VHP or RSS dares to stop her from spreading hatred.

Sakshi Maharaj

Another BJP MP, he is also a controversial figure during these years. His statements are of great significance as they clearly expose how low a parliamentarian can stoop for mere votes. Sometimes, he is concerned about the declining population of Hindus in India. As per his advice, Hindu women must produce at least four children to protect the Hindu religion. I wonder what protection he is talking about. Only 15-20 crore Muslims live in India and he is afraid of them? Sometimes he is ready to build the Ram Temple without understanding the historical or cultural links of Muslims in India with that site, and without understanding the divisive consequences it can lead to.

He gave another shocker to the people of India when he claimed that he was a ‘true Muslim’ as Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was a great yogi. After all, MPs like Sakshi Maharaj can compare yoga with Namaz. On the cow issue, Maharaj further showcased communalism by proclaiming that for the protection of our mother cow, “We are ready to kill and get killed.” All his statements have evoked great communal tension between Muslims and Hindus. And again, no one from the GOI or from BJP, VHP or RSS dares to stop him from spreading hatred.

Subramanian Swamy

He is a BJP MP in Rajya Sabha and is known for his anti-Muslim, anti-Kashmir and anti-Congress remarks. He is very concerned about ‘ghar wapsi‘ (homecoming) of the Indian people. Apart from ‘ghar wapsi’, he is known for other anti-Muslim statements as well. These days he’s busy in making sure that the Ram Temple issue is in the newspaper headlines, probably because UP’s state elections are coming soon. No one from the government wants to take proper action to be taken against him.

Similarly, we heard about RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remark on Mother Teresa, Union Minster Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti referring to Muslims as haramzade, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s remark that those who eat beef should go to Pakistan, and so on. All these comments, remarks or statements are again and again damaging the social fabric of India, where Muslims and Christians seem to be feeling increasingly alienated. Now, the UP election is coming soon. I expect scores of communal statements and remarks from BJP leaders for ‘vote bank’ politics. But the damage it is doing to India should be a matter of concern for all Indians. For all we know, some Muslims of India might be feeling that the two-nation theory may not have been a very bad option. Muslims in India are scared. They haven’t forgotten Dadri, they haven’t forgotten the two-nation theory and its consequences either. What is more, such comments could further help the politics of the likes of Asaduddin Owaisi as they will grab more Muslim votes due to each anti-Muslim statement they make.

All Indian politicians, especially those from the BJP and affiliated organisations should behave as genuine, cultured and decent public figures. Divisive politics might win you votes but, in the long run, it will divide your own country. The Muslims of India rejected the two-nation theory but this kind of politics, and remarks are probably making them regret their decision.

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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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