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

“Dear Christ University, I Cannot Fly”: A Student On Travel Pains During A ‘Bandh’

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Impact: After this story by Sumedha, YKA received tens of accounts from not only students but also parents of students at Christ University over the next one month. Some voiced concerns over the campus rules, some defended them. So powerful were these narratives that Youth Ki Awaaz was banned from the Christ University campus.

By Sumedha Biswas:

Dear Christ University and all your wondrous glamour, I cannot fly.

I write this as an exceptionally annoyed 2nd year BSc student of your esteemed college who is falling behind on your lovely 85% attendance idea as you were so kind to not declare a holiday when the entire city was in a state of chaos.

The bandh or strike, whatever you prefer, was declared by BMTC and KSRTC drivers who desperately want a hike in their salary and the State Government refuses to give in. And so on and so forth. While they continue their arguments and protests, the entire city’s been caught in a fix. Majestic bears a deserted look as most city institutions have declared a holiday following the State declaring a holiday. This may come off as a little surprising to you but I and all my fellow students are actually a part of this city and state.

I have lived in this city for the past twelve years and I live about 25 odd kilometres from college. My daily form of travel includes the metro and two buses. If not for two buses, I occasionally take an auto. Yes, I live far off and travelling sucks the life out of me.

On Monday, my Dad voluntarily offered to drop me and pick me up from college. That evening, it took us three hours to get home. Can you imagine what happens when there are more cabs and private cars on the road as opposed to buses to an already overcrowded traffic-infested city?

On Tuesday, or rather today, I had six hours of class which I had to happily bunk. I couldn’t possibly ask my Dad to sacrifice another meeting. With auto drivers quoting outlandish prices which I can’t possibly afford with my allowance and buses off the roads and my much dreaded horrible inability to fly, how was I to visit your fine campus on this very fine day?

Now, as it turns out, the Government and the employees still have some issues to sort out and most schools and colleges have another holiday tomorrow. Of course, I am entitled to stay home again, miss out on precious knowledge and of course, lose some more of my holy attendance.

I can’t help but point these things out to you if someone hasn’t done it already:

1. I understand that a huge chunk of the student population lives in SG Palya, Chick Lane, Tavarekere and surrounding areas BUT there are others and yes, we do exist. The student community grossly depends on public transport and what are all of us supposed to do? Stay home and brood over our inabilities? If the entire college is always going to run keeping those who live in a 2 km radius in mind, you could’ve just declared it as a compulsory residential college.

2. While we understand that there are deadlines and schedules to be followed, from the student’s perspective, it almost seems as though you do not care about our safety.

3. Not all of us can afford our own private transport, hiked auto fares or anything else that you expect. We all come from different backgrounds and it simply isn’t possible or rather, it simply should not be expected from us.

4. When you enforce your attendance and related marks idea, will you consider our plight on days like these?

You have done this before, we have accepted it before. There have been days when you’ve expected us to pay you a visit on All-India strike days, on days that public transport had been entirely shut down and we’ve all accepted it mutely. But right now, on this fine Tuesday night, I am incredibly annoyed, as is a lot of other students and parents by your oddly clingy behaviour.

Goddamnit, Christ University, I really can’t fly.

This article was first published here, in the author’s personal blog.

Image source: Wikimedia

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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