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

As A Young Woman In India, I Feel My Freedom Is At Stake

More from Monalisa Padhee

By Monalisa Padhee:

Editor’s note: Over 92% of women in India experience some form of harassment, yet, we hesitate to speak up. To help create safe spaces for conversations around these experiences, Youth Ki Awaaz and Breakthrough India have come together to encourage more individuals to speak out and support one another. The piece below is a part of this collaboration. We ask people everywhere to come, #StandWithMe.

I would like to be a little blunt and say that growing up as a girl is difficult.

The first time you are groped while visiting a mela near your house when you were just 10 years old still haunts you. As a child, I thought it was my fault and still wonder how I got that notion. I also thought it would be the last time I would encounter something like this. But who knew I would be proved wrong. Again and again.

Like many teenagers, you will be stalked and the moment you complain about it, you will hear statements like – “Who doesn’t like to get attention?” and “Stop complaining about small, petty stuff”.

Knowingly or unknowingly, I started becoming very conscious of what I would wear because one’s wardrobe seems to become a yardstick for character. Long sleeves and loose kurtas are supposedly protecting you from unwanted attention, and this is what I resorted to in many situations.

One time, when I was travelling in a bus and suddenly found a hand coming near me, I gathered the courage to shout at that man, thinking other people would support me. But alas I was laughed at! I was just an undergrad student, and I felt helpless.

When I was too scared to walk alone, I asked a male friend to accompany me. A leisurely chat with him outside a friend’s PG got us into trouble with the police and the reason was this: girls are not supposed to be out at 10 p.m.

In between, I moved to Australia for a few years for my studies and there – I felt as if I had got wings. I could travel in public transport without being groped, wear whatever I felt like and go to places whenever I wanted. Deep inside, I had started believing these incidents would never happen again. Naive, I know.

When I returned to India for a month-long vacation, I had a reality check. As I was getting down at Rajiv Chowk metro station, I saw a man trying to touch me inappropriately. I started shouting and ran after the man but he escaped. I looked around at the indifference of the people and got the feeling as if it was everyday’s scene and no one is bothered. Coincidentally, a friend happened to post on Facebook how a guy tried to grope her and when she started hitting him, people told her not to create a scene. Our society has become immune to such nuisances and it is crushing down our confidence and restricting our movements.

I felt violated and knew that even after 70 years of independence, as a society, we have failed to provide a safe environment. To stand up for what is right. To respect the freedom that we women ought to have.

If you’d like to share your own experiences – from dealing with everyday sexism and gender stereotyping, to period shaming, harassment and abuse, do share your stories using #StandWithMe, and help take this important conversation forward.

You must be to comment.
  1. James Bond

    You must be kidding me!

    Men are 97% of combat fatalities.
    Men pay 99.9% of Alimony
    Men make 94% of work suicides.
    Men make up 98% of work fatalities.
    Men make up 97% of all war deaths.
    Men lose custody in 84% of divorces.
    80% of all suicides are men.
    77% of homicide victims are men.
    89% of men will be the victim of at least one violent crime.
    Men are over twice as victimised by strangers as women.
    Men are 165% more likely to be convicted than women.
    Men get 63% longer sentences than women for the same crime.
    Court bias against men is at least 6 times bigger than racial bias.
    Males are discriminated against in school and University.
    Boys face vastly more corporal punishment than girls.
    60-80% of the homeless are men.
    Women’s Cancers receive 15 times more funding than men’s
    At least 10% of fathers are victims of paternity fraud.
    One third of all fathers in the USA have lost custody of children, most are expected to pay for this.
    40-70% of domestic violence is against men however less than 1% of domestic violence shelter spaces are for men.
    Male fatality rates are vastly higher than women’s
    Worldwide there are 107 men born for every 100 women, by age 65 there are 78 men for every 100 women, in countries like the USA & UK, its even worse, with 75/76 men for every 100 women. Despite the fact that health care spending for men is nearly twice as effective. In the few countries that have a majority male population and a preference for male children like China, Sons are legally obliged to care for parents when they are older, where as daughters are not. Many other countries like India have this as a social obligation. goo.gl/iZUcJJ
    Despite all the pressures and risks facing men today support services for men are almost non existent compared to services for women. There are departments for women’s issues in the White House and the UN, but none for men. The UN promotes genital mutilation of male children but condems female genital mutilation. This is Real Sexism.
    THE REAL MONEY GAP.
    Men earn 61.5% of all income but only account for 25% of domestic spending. Men only spend 40% of what they earn after tax. In contrast women make up 38.5% of all income but control 75% of domestic spending, women on average spend 90% MORE MONEY THAN THEY EARN. Men are exploited as cash machines and even with spending on children accounted for women still spend more money on themselves than the combined spending for men and children. This can even be observed in the floor space allocated to women’s products in most shopping centres.
    TAX & HEALTHCARE DISCRIMINATION
    Men pay over 70% of income tax but the vast majority of public spending is on services for women. There is more money spent on breast cancer than lung cancer and prostate cancer combined, despite the fact that lung cancer alone has 3-4 times more fatalities than breast cancer. A man’s chance of getting cancer is 44% and 23% of men will die from cancer, 38% of women get cancer and 19% die. Yet there is vastly more money spent on cancer for women, this is lethal discrimination. Women pay 60% less tax despite spending 300% more in domestic spending than men. Women also consume two third of public spending, there are 3 times the amount of gender specific health services for women than men despite the fact that for equal increases in health spending a man’s life expectancy rate increases nearly twice as much as a woman’s.
    DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
    There are hundreds of surveys which shows women are as violent if not more violent than men in domestic violence cases. Men get arrested in 85% of all arrests but its estimated that Women are the perpetrators in most Domestic Violence cases. Most reciprocal violence is started by women and 70% of non reciprocal violence is perpetrated by women. Women however only get arrested in 15% of all DV arrests. This example of 572 different studies covering 371,600 people demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm
    More men than women were victims of intimate partner physical violence and over 40% of severe physical violence was directed at men. http://www.batteredmen.com/NISVS.htm
    Despite this though,99.3% of DV shelter spaces are for women and even men who report violence against them by women are arrested far more often than the woman who is attacking them.

More from Monalisa Padhee

Similar Posts

By Rohini Banerjee

By Aditi Thirani

By Youth Ki Awaaz

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 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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below