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Prejudice Didn’t Help Trump Win, Clinton And The Left Did

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By Pranav Prakash:

On November 8, when Donald J. Trump was voted President-elect of the world’s most polarised democracy, there were few anywhere in the world who could claim, without being disingenuous, that they weren’t surprised.

Despite the unprecedented partisanship of some of the United States’ leading newspapers, both liberal and conservative, the endorsement of some of the Republican party’s own ranks and the incessant barrage of insults, comprising primarily of name-calling, that were hurled at her opponent by the media elite, Hillary Clinton lost the election, unable to secure a decisive majority of seats from the electoral college.

Having won the popular vote, her vote count is anticipated to continue rising over the next few days with mail-in votes and absentee ballots being tallied. Essentially, Clinton lost the election despite the fact that over half of all eligible voters who actually exercised their franchise picked her.

Families awoke the following morning to news that nearly every pollster had predicted as an unlikely outcome – that Trump had won. The incapacity to comprehend, leave alone explain to the younger generation, how the pernicious demagoguery of Trump’s campaign managed to land him in the Oval Office, began to ebb through the millions who were simply unprepared for this eventuality.

In retrospect, though, it could be argued that when Clinton was chosen as the Democratic Party’s preferred candidate for office instead of Sanders, it decimated any remaining hope of peaceful transition for a resurgent politics and a contrarian ideology to the previous administration.

For all of the dilemmas that the white middle class blamed the Obama administration, including the financial crisis, the decline of the manufacturing industry and the impracticality of rising health insurance prices for those in blue collar jobs, Bernie Sanders’ movement would have put the blame where it’s due without being fueled by the radicalism of an aggrieved mass that Trump had managed to exploit in the most malicious of ways.

That the Democrats failed to recognise the possibility of a backlash to Hillary’s nomination and the remarkably heightened odds that Trump, then, stood of winning the election simply on account of not being Hillary is as astounding as it is ironic, since most presumed Hillary would win by a landslide simply on account of not being a racist, sexist, xenophobe like Trump.

The failure of the Democratic Party to have recognised this comes from its unmistakable atrophy over the last few years, losing its majority in both Houses, fourteen gubernatorial seats and thirty state legislatures during Obama’s eight year Presidency.

This cannot however be conflated with strengthening of the GOP either, since Trump was always an outsider who managed to win voter support despite nearly every other major candidate from the Republican primaries declaring Trump unfit for Presidency and unqualified to represent conservatives.

Both parties have never been weaker and Trump simply capitalised on the fact; this much is clear. Partisanship, on the other hand, seems to have an uncanny ability to outlive the parties themselves.

To presume that anyone who voted for Trump shares his deplorable sentiments towards women, minorities or Muslims is only fair insofar as we presume, also, that anyone who voted for Hillary has hawkish inclinations on foreign policy, supported intervention in Libya, has blatant disregard for security protocol or is indifferent to clandestine cocktails of political and corporate partnerships that all but border on cronyism.

That is not the case with Hillary’s support base and neither is it the case with Trump, certainly not with 60 million people. To support the candidature of a man whose political propaganda is as revolting as Trump’s is reckless, irresponsible and precipitous but not stupid, as the left has a tendency to presume of the other side. This dangerous trivialisation is precisely how the left has ended up in this mess.

On December 19, the electoral college will cast its votes and legally elect Trump as President. Where wishful thinking abounds, a good many are still hopeful that some of the electors will defect and vote for Hillary instead, with a change.org petition to this effect garnering nearly 4.5 million signatures. The outcome of an election being overturned this way is unprecedented, but so are many other things about the 2016 Presidential race, it could be said.

Meanwhile, divisiveness along the lines of race, religion, nationality and sexuality seems to have disclosed its vile facade in the days since the results were announced, as reports of vandalism and racially motivated attacks come in from across the country. When the person seated in the most powerful office in the world validates and legitimises intolerance, the nation will begin to develop a new identity, defined by those who are excluded from it. Prejudice may not have been the cause for circumstances we find ourselves in, but it may well be the consequence.

Image source: Mark Wilson/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 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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