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The Great Indian Horny Woman

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At first sight, it might look as if a woman in India is living her wet dreams. It’s a country where the humungous number of men do not have enough women for themselves. Many lead a life of eternal drought with their fantasies never raining on them.

It might seem that a woman has an upper hand when it comes to finding sex easily. That her sexuality does not have to build up and wait inside her underwear, like it is for the men, only to get wasted in the bathroom. That they definitely must not be desperate just because they do not have to wait 30 years for their desires to erupt, for their bodies to have gentle hands laid on them, for their mouths to be poured love into.

But quite contrary to the anticipation, an Indian woman lives with a hidden pathological desperation inside her. Her heart is a raging volcano of sexual frustration which she cannot vent out because the playboy magazines offer nothing to quench her thirst, nor do the blowjobs and the booby dominated patriarchal porn. She hides her lipstick laden lips under her burqa and goes around the city, the marketplace and the buzzing traffic, relying on only make-up and attire to remind herself that her body is a wonderland despite no one willing to look at it with the passion it deserves.

It is a twisted tale. This desperation, this trembling self-confidence, this eternal wait for something as far-fetched as a female orgasm. It is not the lack of horny men. But the very incompatibility of sexual expectations between the two sexes. In India, the expectations of most men are derived from what they watch in porn. No wonder, their fantasies are mostly self-centered; the striptease, the emptying over the face, the superstition of ‘squirting’ and the seductive curvature of the ass which solely pleasures them and not the female partner. For the woman, the act is a sheer manoeuvre of demonstration, of dispensing of duties, by the end of which she has to lie awake watching the man fall asleep even before she finished.

And it does not stop here. Relationships are so ill-defined in India that it does not even take into consideration the importance of sexual sync between two partners as a big factor that adds up to the love between them. Sex is often a second stage in dating, mostly after the phase of falling in love, as if it is more sacred and deserves more attention than love itself.

Hence, it becomes even tougher to ask a man out for any emotional connection, once the intercourse is over. As if you could either be his muse or his girlfriend. As if he cannot possibly give you his heart if you have already given him your body. Inexperienced as men are in India, it would be an avalanche of self-esteem on the part of the woman herself, to be asking for being considered to be a part of the romantic space in his life after having filled the sticky sexual lacunae in it. If you are a sexual woman who also is looking for love, you are damned, as you can either be considered as a person or a ‘pussy’.

It came as a horrifying shock to me when I entered college and realised that female masturbation was rare. That women were so afraid to explore their own body, that they did not take the risk of even discovering their own spots, let alone having someone else discover those for them. They were scared to wear the kind of clothes that would bring out their curviest parts because ‘slutty’ was a word already coined and used infamously. This self-reproach, this feeling of guilt, which was a result of always having been told that dignity was inversely proportional to desires, had made women lonelier than ever, surrounded by men who would love to touch them but had never cared to touch them in a way they felt loved.

Even for the men, it is nothing but the circumstances that have adulterated their way of seeing a female body. They look at it as a piece of wondrous artwork and not another half of them. The intimacy and lovemaking are often overpowered by the aggressiveness which comes out not by choice but by the hush-hush they had to deal with all their lives, being told that women are a mysterious ‘thing’ they should not socialise with, or adopt any kind of habits from. They too have been subjected to the brouhaha that surrounds paid sex, the unmet needs of sex education in school, the propagated myth of manhood being measured by the ‘size’ and especially, the taboo of homosexual attraction.

There was this beautiful movie called “Masaan” which had a famous dialogue that compared life to a condom. Our lives could not have been described more accurately; than a temporary affair that lasts only in pursuit of that one moment of overwhelming happiness. And till then, we as women would sadly keep being dutiful, always pouring our energies into others without asking for acknowledgement. Someone said, “For most of history, anonymous was a woman.” Women are always making art without asking for recognition. Always thinking that since it is about them, it must obviously come second.

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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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