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I Will Not Pray For London

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No, I am not saying prayers for London. I am not prostrating on my prayer rug, to appeal to the magnificent, merciful and universal, in a vain petition that has become as rooted in rote empathy and as rote in its emptiness as any prayer, as desolate as our thinking, as vacant as words like human rights, as cosmetic as words like resistance, as barren as liberation that operates through the glossy familiar channels of self-aggrandisement.

I don’t need to pray for the dead, because I know by all the love in my heart and all the tears in my eyes, that my God, the eternal earth and the universal skies, parts the stars to welcome the innocent into the arms of eternity.

I don’t need to pray for those killed in the terrorist war on humanity, or the mental health crisis that political dislocation responding to white supremacy and greed has precipitated, because the dead aren’t on trial.

I am on trial.

I don’t pray for an end to the madness, because I don’t pray for that which humanity has control over. I pray for that which we have no control over.

I don’t pray that God might pardon the sins of the dead, as they are pieced back together, in broken memories of uneven empathy and piecemeal valuations on the scales of history.

I don’t pray for the dead, lowered into the deserts of South Sudan, or Somalia, lost in the Mediterranean, or the shores of Yemen, as devastated tears from a mother’s eyes curse history as it is written in the artificial intelligence programmed into our beating hearts and unconscious consumer driven minds, fighting for the presentation of empathy.

I will not pray as body after body is lowered into the ground or cremated, because I know that they died in that accident of placement, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, without sin, in a fleeting lunacy out of their control, cut off from that opportunity to be forgiven for their worst, or to live into their best. My God, the universe, the earth is wiser than I can ever hope to learn and I know that without reservation, they are forgiven.

No, I don’t pray for the dead of London, as they media preys on the dead of London, as Trump and Theresa May prey on the dead of London.

I pray that God right now might forgive me. My genderless, melanin spectrum of night and day, God, forgive me if I have not done all I can, because I am guilty.

I do not pray for the dead of London, I pray for you. I pray that you and I might remember, that through the complexities of a frameless protest without ideas, that we, in this moment, conjecturing through histories of deprivation, finally realise, that the guilt is on. And it is not as light as hashtags, but as heavy as an eon of misogyny, of patriarchy, of white supremacy, casteism, economic strangulation, of classism, as hierarchies that have perverted, diseased, politicised praying, or even participation.

So before IS can claim responsibility for this madness, we claim it. This is mankind. We take this act of history and carry it on our shoulders. We are guilty. Yes, all men.

We claim responsibility today, for Mogadishu, where there will be no concert of hope.

We claim responsibility today for Manus Island, where policy terrorism detains the most brutally vulnerable, who are caged like cattle, by offshore settler colonies.

We claim responsibility today for Damascus.


We claim responsibility for our Dalit siblings, for those who are non-identifying, queer, LGBTQIA+.

We claim responsibility for the murders of trans, black, latinx, indigenous, aboriginal people and families.

We claim responsibility for how our neuroatypical siblings are treated – and aren’t treated.

We claim responsibility for FOX, CNN, MSNBC, ‘The Daily Fail’ , The Sun, The Guardian, The Times of India.

We claim responsibility for a Palestinian woman, shot dead outside an occupied settlement. We claim responsibility for the fact that there was no news because she was a Palestinian woman, shot dead.

We claim responsibility for the fact that Wonder Woman is a Zionist.

We claim responsibility for every rape, every second, everywhere on this planet.

We claim responsibility for why our education systems, the world over, are failures for the many, specifically the most marginalised.

We claim responsibility that we have not starved ourselves in the streets over the failures of our education systems to teach boys to be human beings, and hold men responsible for the largest human rights scandal on this planet – violence against women through every form of gender terrorism.

From the knife that cuts the girl child’s clitoris, to the fact that puritanical white Roman Catholic imperialism and Anglo-Saxon colonialism, and (dis)respectability politics, a politics of shame, remain superstructures that guide the gravity of global consciousness. A politics that shames women’s bodies across gender spectrums and sexualities, universally. A politics that has made us more ashamed to say the word clitoris, than to know what they are, how they work, the fact they are getting sliced into in the 21st century, and how that connects to the nexus of slavery, colonialism and neocolonialism.

The 21st century, when we dream of the outer depths of unexplored telluric planets, and we can’t even talk in a classroom about women’s sexual bodies, their physical beings, their histories being omitted.

The 21st century, when we can justify the exploration of space, but women can’t get sanitary pads for free.

No, I don’t have prayers for the Rohingya, because I am too ashamed to even whisper that word to my God.

We claim responsibility for the terrorism of sweat shops, that fund the vogue trends of slacktivism in glossy fashion pictorials of “wokeness”, between evolving standards of cosmetic shame commercially brokered to alleviate women’s bodies of the discontent of social critiques about the commercialisation of women’s bodies in social spaces. As commercially juxtaposed to a Hollywood/Bollywood standard “wokeness”, that doesn’t see itself as a weapon that cultivates a jingoism that just plays along with the problem.

Let me tell you something, the use of black people’s exploitation as your own, when you aren’t black, is just as exploitive as the exploitation of living in an anti-black society, so I don’t pray for our black siblings and children gunned down in the streets by our police. Or the fact that our communities stand behind that when it is safe, while standing in front of that when the cameras are on, and below it when it’s time to talk about how many different ways the slave trades flowed. Or that we can’t challenge our liberal enterprises of corporate backing with every act, every day, of alienation, marginalisation, and objectification carried out by even the liberal spectrum of supposed ideas.

So, instead of exploiting black people’s pain, let’s claim responsibility for that finally. Because there are few larger forms of terrorism on this earth than the terrorism black wom(y)n have been subjected to on every corner of this planet.

To the keyboard warriors who have had the privilege of their ivy towers bookshelves, with credential passports to push the heaviest social turnstiles, who have the best library cards, to have their academic circle jerks, who have never lived, or bothered to come to the neighborhoods or to speak to the communities they are so concerned about, who write for the rags that underscored the justification and misdirection blueprints that spawned IS, Guantanamo Bay, mass surveillance, the arms trade, for economic expansion – I take responsibility for you too.

The revolution is right around the corner and I am sure your words are going to spark flames your audacity doesn’t have the courage to strike. So, before we light the vigil for London bridge, let’s take responsibility for the lack of care for refugees, the failed administrative policies of UNHCR as brokered by the G20 states.

Let’s take responsibility for the terror of consumerism, the terror of materialism, the terror of starvation.

Let’s take responsibility for cluster bombs dropped on sleeping children in Yemen.

Let’s take responsibility for how long it takes to forget about the cluster bombs dropped on children in a sleepy village in Yemen.

Let’s take responsibility for where the terrorist wars on humanity commenced – United States foreign policy.

Let’s take responsibility for the fact that it’s easier to laugh at a celebrity impersonation of George W Bush, than it is to conjecture how many Iraqis are dead because of George W Bush.

Let’s take responsibility for the mediums that broker and silence the screams, and the platforms exploiting images of children lying in blood, as if sharing the poverty porn of shock and death 20 years on leads to anything more than reality television politics, and ratings.

I can’t go to God with how quickly it takes to forget Kabul, Central African Republic, or the ghosts of Cambodia, till I look inwardly, to figure out why we can talk about the neoliberal commercial complex’s shadow, but we don’t unify so tightly, so strategically, as beautiful as we are, to cast a shadow so large that our energy empowers the forces of capacity into a framework that cultivates the dream of possibility to life.

God, I know we are capable. “You can cut down all of the flowers but you will never stop the coming of spring.”

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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