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When A Man Has Broken Legal And Spiritual Laws, Why Are Lakhs Still Defending Him?

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There is smoke originating from Panchkula and spreading to as far as Delhi, burning the eyes of the entire nation. Buses, trains and public property have been damaged and vandalised.  According to reports, 30 people have already lost their lives, and 250 have been injured in the violence perpetrated by the goons of the ‘Messenger of God’.

They are fearlessly unconcerned about the country because they believe that their messenger is above the law of this nation. It is a sad reality that a few people in this country prefer irrelevant ideologies over the constitution for guiding their acts. The entire country is put into crisis and embarrassment today.

The heinous crime committed by the Dera Chief, Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh cannot be forgiven, and the violence by his goons is the ultimate act of disturbing the law and order of the country. They have come to the defence of their master because of insanity backed by some unconstitutional powers that have made them irresponsible. Is this the kind of society that our future generations shall inherit from us?

A little introspection here is inevitable. What kind of defence is this for a man who has broken not only the laws of the nation but even spirituality? If this is religion, then we must ask ourselves, does it have a standing in human society?

Religion is a philosophy which gives peace to human mind thereby keeping people away from hurting others and also themselves. Why does faith turn so violent that it comes in defence of even a rapist like Ram Rahim? Why is the human mind so alienated from its own self that in the quest to find peace externally, it becomes insidious?

Our people should understand that politicians are merely using their faith and belief through some unholy messenger. The way Ram Rahim has been provided escorts, VIP treatment and security poses many questions to our existing socio-political and legal scenario. Is law only for the commoners who can’t afford to buy politicians?

If, it so, then we need some serious intervention. It is high time that the activities of political parties are checked before it’s too late. Our democratic ethos does not allow for such crime to exhibit their decadence. We are not a nation formed on the basis of ‘religious belief’ but humane principles of justice and equality.

The way our leaders are defensive and silent on the act of a criminal gives the sense of a threat that we are living under insane rulers who have no regard for the people and the constitutional values of this country. If anything is interpreted as anti-national today, I believe it is this.

The irony, however, is that political parties and fanatics have always been taking the people of this country for granted. They can use anyone, anytime for their personal gains but the bigger question is this that why is a portion of our society behaving this way?

In the first place, why are they defending people like Ram Rahim and Asaram Bapu? is it that they really believe that they are ‘superhumans’ or are they hallucinating so much that they believe that not supporting these messengers would mean having to answer to somebody else in the afterlife? Why is our reasoning clouded?

We are all human beings, and we all have the potential to explore even the impossible. We have come far in our innovations and discoveries which are the results of our reasoning and not religion. The latter has always tried to stop us from being reasonable, and it is evident in the pages of history.

We should understand that fundamentalism creates a hero, a messiah, a messenger and keeps him at the centre thereby keeping the believers in the periphery forever. It gives them false hope and sells their dreams. We do not need this. Look at how obnoxious evangelists and fake gurus solve critical problems on TV by mocking reason and science. If only eating ‘samosa’ or ‘parathas’ would solve human problems.

It is high time that we start introspecting and stop believing and defending fake people. Our spirituality should enlighten us in such a way that any external power should find it impossible to use us for their self-interest. Our religious and spiritual belief should not be brought to the streets in the form of violence. When we close our eyes in devotion, we should not close our mind too. The mind should always be kept open because there are people there who enjoy using closed minds for mere political gains.

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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.

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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)’.

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.

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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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