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Sexual Harassment Is Not A Joke!

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An open letter to all the people who think sexual harassment is a joke.

Dear Person,

Have you ever woken up with a dream that assaulted and infringed your integrity? So haunting, that it daunted you for an entire day? Or maybe even after that? Or have you felt the fear of your exposure of yourself or somebody close to you? Does it make you cringe and boil when somebody comes and intentionally rubs against you or gropes your private parts? Does it infuriate you further, when you are not treated anything more than a mere sexual object to satiate somebody else’s lust?

Well, these are some of the questions which have become an inevitable part of a woman’s existence. She wakes up with the baggage of such fears on her shoulders every day, without a miss. She carries them relentlessly throughout the day, across the streets, the institutions and the places and with the people that she meets. Even as she goes off to sleep at night, she is thinking, subconsciously if not loudly, ‘Thank God! I made my way though another day’.

A baby, a girl, a woman, or a granny- no matter the age hierarchy, has to carry this bundle of fears and do whatever it takes to escape any possibility of becoming a potential victim.  She would, at some point in time, dress up in traditional Indian attires, wearing saree, salwar-kameez with a dupatta (a long piece of cloth worn as a stole with salwar-kameez), a ghoonghat (veil to cover the woman’s face) or a burqa, disbanding the western jeans, short skirts, cropped tops and bikini, so as to not “incite” the animal in the potential rapists around her. She would self impose curfews, at times, to avoid the possibility of becoming bait to the lurking perpetrators around her. She would wear subtle makeup at crushed public-places (like Delhi Metro), as against her favourite bright red or pink lipstick, so as to not come under the radar of any ogler. She would maintain distance with her male colleagues and friends, by not talking late at night or avoiding any voluntary sexual advances, to avoid the possibility of being taken for granted for a “slut”. She would sacrifice her career options, such as journalism, which would require her physical and mental labour at hours away from the daylight and the “safety” of other people.

And all this she does in vain, because the source of the problem lies not with her but with the patriarchal mindset of the society.

Now whether a bunch of male chauvinist or patriarchal junk might understand this or not, the sexuality of a woman, or for that matter any person, has become a very pertinent and prominent part of their integrity and dignity. All credits to the society. As the celebrated feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, rightly and on point had said – “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” Thus, even if the woman would attempt to disregard this identity, by trying to be a human first, the society relentlessly pushes her into those rudimentary genderized shoes. Thus, paving way for an unending battle to not always to protect the izzat (the concept of dignity of the family that falls on the shoulder of the women to maintain) of the family but to, exercise the sexual, physical and emotional integrity and dignity that she owns.Something which, ultimately, comes at disposal to mercy of ‘the men’ who assume the role of either a ‘protector’ or a ‘violator’.

The purpose here is to not victimize women and culpritise men, it’s just to give a reality check on how things exist on ground for the women, whose progress, upon the incidences of their sights of going out for work, schools and colleges in the morning, has been taken for granted by the society, veiled by an oblivion to the dark side of the coin.

P.S. – Bangalore at shame for mass molestation. The society further at shame for #NotAllMen.


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  1. Abhishek K Yadav

    well said #Aishwarya #Chouhan

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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.

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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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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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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.

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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.

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