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8 Times Indians Were Horribly Cruel To Animals In 2016

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Trigger Warning

Last winter, my Facebook newsfeed treated me to several images of the Kukur Tihar, a Nepalese festival that celebrates dogkind, with garlands, tikas, treats – the works. The images came only a few months after a tremendous victory for animal rights in the country – the ban on the bull slaughtering Gadhimai festival – and I drifted into 2016 filled with hope. But that hope soon ran out.

Several incidents over the last 12 months showed us the horrific lows to which human beings have sunk. And the unspoken message behind every incident of cruelty is this: non-human animals do not deserve safety, respect, or even the right to be alive.

1. In January, A Bear Was Beaten To An Inch Of Its Life

After several sightings, residents of Chitradurga village in Karnataka cornered and attacked it with sticks and massive rocks. The bear would not have survived had it not been for forest officials, who intervened and rushed the animal to the Adumalleshwara Zoo for treatment. Officials were unable to identify and book those involved under the Wildlife Act.

2. In March, A Woman Killed 8 Defenceless Puppies

A colony of ex-servicemen in Bangalore was left shaken after a woman named Ponnamma killed an entire litter of 15-day old puppies to “teach the mother a lesson” for giving birth outside her gate. She reportedly flung them across the road with so much force that some of them were found with their intestines out. The mother of the litter, a stray dog fondly called Ammu by residents, was devastated, howling through the night, and trying to approach residents for help.

3. Elephants In Temple Complexes Keep Dying

Physical strain, exposure to high temperatures, a lack of care, in general, has spelt doom wherever captive elephants are made to labour. And temples in South India extract a lot of labour from elephants. 12 elephants have died in Kerala this year. By July, three had died in Tamil Nadu, and a Public Interest Litigation filed in Madras High Court also revealed that many temple elephants were malnourished and ill-treated.

4. But Elephants In The Wild Aren’t Safe Either!

The Patanjali food park near Kaziranga in Assam poses a massive hazard. A female elephant and her calf fell into a pit at the construction site. The mother succumbed to internal injuries and fractures, and her traumatised two-month-old calf was only moved from her side after a whole day.

5. In July, Medical Students Flung A Dog Off A Terrace

Gautam Sudarshan and Ashish Paul of Madha Medical College filmed a video of themselves throwing a brown street dog off a terrace. For Fun. Rescued by animal rights activist Shravan Krishnan, the dog was named Bhadra and nursed back to health. But she suffered multiple fractures and will never walk normally again. Sudarshan and Paul were granted bail, and Bhadra still awaits justice under the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals Act.

6. In November, A Leopard Is Killed Right In Front Of Forest Officials

Residents of Gurgaon’s Mandwar village chased and beat to death an adult leopard, filmed it on video, and posed triumphantly with its body before dragging it to the main road. Not only are Indian leopards dwindling in numbers, but human settlements have been encroaching on their natural habitats, and they often cross over into villages and small towns, disoriented. Even more disturbing than the violence meted out to the animal was the fact that forest officials were present and did not intervene.

7. That Same Month, The Brutalised Body Of A Female Monkey Was Exhumed

Investigation found that medical students in Vellore had tied her up, burnt and beaten her. Scroll reported that “a stick had been inserted in her rectum and forced out through the front of her body.” Medical practitioners and animal rights activists alike were shocked by the crime, raising serious questions about the ethics being inculcated by these future doctors.

8. And As Recently As December, A Man Chops Off The Legs Of A Puppy In Dwarka

The man in question, Pramod, had initially offered food to a stray pup that had entered his house. In its enthusiasm, the puppy had scratched him, and for that, he brought out a blade to punish the animal. A case has been filed at the Palam police station under the Animal Cruelty act, but it remains to be seen where is goes.

Despite having many traditions rooted in animism, and an admiration for the natural world, India has not been an easy place for animals. While the realities of  there are incidents happening in our own backyards that we cannot ignore. With every stick or stone used to harm an animal, a part of our own humanity dies.

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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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