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

Atheism

I guess it’s class 6th History book which mention that people in olden days didn’t understand simple phenomena such as lightning and droughts. Since we needed an explanation, Humans came up with some supernatural entity. This supernatural entity was named God and it served as a pretty good explanation for most of the things

But then science developed, people started to find actual reasons for the phenomenons and everything became crystal clear. Start of universe was theorized. All phenomena were explained and there was nothing left that science could not explain.

Initial words

Religion is something that’s not your choice but it is just stamped upon you on your birth. Fear is induced in your mind and you spend your life intimidated by something non-existent. If you break free of it, you will feel more relaxed and won’t have to worry about bullshit restrictions imposed upon you.

What is my story

See, I was a firm believer of God until class 5th. I used to pray everyday, thinking God will help me, and you know some random things I asked for did happen, I was a stupid happy kid. And then it didn’t. When I needed it the most, God had disappeared. What about all those countless wishes I asked him. If you ask your elders, they will say something along these lines

  • God works in mysterious ways.
  • God helps only those who help themselves.
  • You don’t have complete faith.
  • Your problems are too small, that’s what parents are for.

Yeahhh​, those excuses worked before, not now. Now I have started to think. Let’s focus on second point, the other three points are just bullshit. If God only helps those who help themselves, then why does that person need God. Let’s say, God removes those unnecessary hurdles from our way. There are again two ways:

  1. It removes them when you know about it as in general problems, but that can also be explained by coincidence.
  2. It removes them when you don’t know about it, well if we don’t know about it, it doesn’t matter if God exists or not.

One of the biggest argument I get is, ‘How can World be so perfect, if it has not been made by some supernatural entity’. I will give you two answers

  • Ok, it is entirely possible that we might be a C-Grade Science Project of some Alien kid but then, that’s not God or supernatural, that’s just science.
  • The other reason, and the one word answer is: Randomizations. You might ask, how does that work? Well, take it this way, if you didn’t exist, you wouldn’t be here to ask the above question. If our world is so perfect, it’s because, if it wasn’t, you wouldn’t have survived.

That’s how evolution works, if something cannot exist in current conditions, it dies and we find traces of it in the fossils. Eg: Homo Naledi. Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago, it’s not that our world is perfect, there have been a lot of killings,death, extinction events, lots of changes and we are finally at a point where everything is existing in harmony. If it didn’t, well, I wouldn’t have been writing this blog. I hope that clears it.

Do I hate religion, if so why?

Yes, I hate religion. I think religion creates more problems than it solves.

  • Religion creates barriers and restrictions. *Insert sarcastic tone* You cannot do this, you cannot do that. Take the Hindus for example. I have been told in my family that, you cannot eat Chicken on Tuesday. Or Muslims, where the females are not allowed to go to Mosque. There is no logic behind it. Most of the time, Religion also hinders women empowerment. If Anyone or Anything tries to bring restrictions and doesn’t allow people to get the best they can get, I hate it.
  • Religion gives fake hope to people and that hope is used for exploitation of people. People travel to weird places to worship Gods to get what they want. Priests ask for money to do things they have no control of. Religion is not just an individual’s belief in supernatural, it’s fear and that fear is used for business, and I hate this exploitation.
  • People think it’s a pretty good excuse for anything they do. Look at the bullshit people come up with. “This person is threatening my religion, I needed to show him that he can’t” or “My religion is better than yours” or “He cannot say such things to my God”. For all those people who use these or similar excuses for their behavior, I’m glad to see you’re not letting your education get in the way of your ignorance.
  • Religion is used by bigots to spread hate. They interpret the scriptures in their own way and use it to incite communal violence or use it for their own benefit.
  • Religion is used to attack on science. The things that have been proved true are curbed because some religious group got offended. Cosmos:A Space-Time Odyssey doesn’t have a second season because a few Christian groups got offended that the show mention Earth’s age as 4.5 billion years which contradicts the Bible.

Do I like some aspects of religion?

  • Yes I do, I like the fear religion induces in people. It helps society a bit. People feed the poor, donate things, and do all kinds of stuff during religious days thinking it would cleanse them of their sins. Religion keeps an average human being in check and prevents him from doing bad things.
  • Religion gives hope to people. People have come up with the concept of Karma. I don’t believe in it, but it gives a good human being hope. It assures people that there is an entity bigger than them and if someone hurts them, someone is going to punish that person. The concept of Karma puts people in denial and helps them to cope through bad things. They believe that by doing good, good will happen to them and they might go to heaven and doing bad will put them in hell.

People these days need hope, they need hope to survive or they will go mad. So yeah in these things, religion rocks.

What about superstitions?

All kinds of superstitions that come with religion such as, You shouldn’t wash hair on Thursday because your brother will die or The mass cultural delusion that the planet’s apparent position relative to sun at the time of birth somehow affects your life such as all those Shani, Rahu and Manglik shit is pure bullshit. I have seen most of the girls wearing a black hairband on their hands, I don’t know for what, maybe for some nazar raksha bullshit and it irritates the hell out of me.

Finishing words

I don’t like the excuses people give, such as parents will feel bad and stuff. I know you love your parents but guys this is your life, they are gonna die one day. Why live in restrictions imposed by anyone. YOLO

End of the day, I feel religion is just to keep people in fear and control and thus I don’t like it. I don’t have any grudge against religious people but I do consider myself above them. I don’t believe in all those traditions and stuff, so I am a free bird. If religious people don’t use religion to justify violence, it’s fine with me. Do whatever you feel like.

I will finish this piece with this tweet by Sonu Nigam

I have no religion. I follow my own religion choosing the best from everywhere. Those who understand, know; Those who don’t, my condolences.

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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.

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)’.

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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.

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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.

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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