‘the Red Drive’ – (an Initiative Against Period Discrimination)

Posted by Varun Thirtha
May 3, 2017

Self-Published

“I am a 19- year- old guy. No I don’t have a uterus, and no I don’t go through menstruation. But yes, I do give a damn about period discrimination, because I’m a man of inclusivity, rights and civilization”.

My name is Varun Thirtha from Bengaluru, and I’m an author & social activist. The book I have written (Theory of inner voices) is a collection of five highly inspiring & thought-provoking stories related to the current taboos/perceptions/discrimination in today’s society. My aim as a highly optimistic and driven youngster is to bring these plots I have published to real-life situations and circumstances. One such story is of how a rural teenage girl fights her way out of the menstruation taboo in her village; and hence by emulating the morals, energy & intensity depicted by the character to reality, I present to you the scheme I have started – ‘ The Red Drive’.

After 50 odd days of planning , getting hold of people, setting up meetings, preparing banners, and so much more; here we are with the taste of success in collaboration with ‘Vidyaranya’ organization.

This is a powerful and inspiring initiative focused on creating awareness about the inhuman taboos considering menstruation which has been haunting women and girls across various parts of the country.
With about 100 students and 50 other members( victims of trafficking, sexual abuse, acid attacks, gang rape, etc) gathered for the first iteration of the scheme, the initial expectation was surely oscillating on so many uncertainties. But boy, the event was a huge success in every sense !

It is a known fact that 23% of girl students drop out of school because of their unwillingness to speak up against these taboos, or don’t even have the basic facilities to tackle this natural phenomenon.
The initiative is basically to be open about this menace. A ‘pumped up’ me literally stunned the entire gathering  with some powerful quotes, messages and sentiments which took each member present there by surprise in a positive sense. The session started off with the basic addressing of self-belief and boldness among all of us. Then slowly drifting to the matter, the points of discussion were about the various types of crimes, why are they committed, and what are the solutions used till date.

But hey, that’s not the real problem, right?. It was made loud and clear to the audience that it all boils to mindset, of how important it is to have tensile perspectives about civilization and acceptance of everyone around us irrespective of gender, religion, personal sentiments and so on. The plot from my book (I ain’t ashamed of some read) was narrated, and hence every student there was made to emulate the principles, the passion, the courage, the desire these characters had in themselves, in order to be brave and confident catalysts for a better tomorrow.

The point was made very clear without mincing words. There are girls present here today , and yes you do go through cycles. But tomorrow even if your own teacher, relatives, friends, priest, or even the chief minister comes and tells you to remove your garments and confess your “sins” – To hell with them and their illogical beliefs.
As they repeated after me , the line was loudly chanted- ” Yes I am a girl. Yes I go through periods. Yes…I say this with pride! I can dance, sing, write an exam, pray, work in the kitchen, jump from a tree also if I want to. NO PERSON CAN HAVE THE ARROGANCE/AUDACITY TO QUESTION ME WITH THE INTENTION OF PUTTING ME DOWN THROUGH SUCH PERCEPTIONS & TABOOS.                 MY BODY, MY VAGINA, MY PERIODS, MY RIGHT. ”
They all just soaked in the goosebumps as this was said, and we all could clearly feel the spark of change happening right there.
Considering the boys present there- yes, it was equally important to address them on this issue too. Points about controlling and channelizing our sexual urges and pleasures within limits in the society was discussed in detail. We all agreed to the fact that we call ourselves gentlemen not because of our gender, organs, or beard; rather because of our mindset to uphold values that will help empowering other sections of society along with us.
At the end, every student was made to imprint his/her palm in red on the large banner, and sign on it as a strong sentiment of taking a pledge to support the ‘Red drive’.

All in all, the response and participation was absolutely overwhelming.
The scheme will be taken forward to different rural areas of Karnataka, and I am sure the results will be seen,provided we believe. Sanitary napkins from the book profits/sponsorship and other tie ups will be distributed like today, and hence the vibes for a civilized tomorrow will be spread across from one area to another.

Honestly speaking, knowing me as a guy, one would feel why do I even give my time and efforts to such an issue.
Well, it’s because I see India as a really screwed up Nation if that 23 % is not involved. That is the target – to bring it from 23 to zero; and even if blood and sweat have to mean the same thing to me in order to achieve it; well…
BRING
IT
ON!!
#TheRedDrive
#PossibleInImpossible
#TogetherWeAreTheChange
#TheoryOfInnerVoices

{For pictures, please visit – https://www.facebook.com/Vthirtha/posts/10213214229459859}

– Varun Thirtha,
(Author/Orator/Social activist/Student of engineering)

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