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If You Think The Triple Talaq Verdict Is Perfect, Read This

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Since it has become important to prefix all arguments that don’t blindly welcome the Supreme Court judgement on Triple Talaq with the obvious condemnation of the practice, here goes: Triple Talaq as a practice is oppressive, regressive and has no place in a democracy. It disallows women to express their most fundamental rights and instils fear through complete disempowerment of women by rendering them economically rudderless and therefore helpless in the face of oppression.

This said, the judgement should not be considered historic in condemning or banning the practice. What was truly looked forward to was the first principles on which the judgement was to be argued. While placing the verdict within the individual vs community rights debate, the judgement and dissenting judgement have both referred to Articles 14 and 21 and high court precedents. The judgement has brought various other questions that need to be sorted out irrespective of which side of this one is on and needs deep introspection.

Firstly, the judgement is far from the end for this fight given that it only strikes down Talaq-e-Bidat (instantaneous talaq). Along with this, government policies are yet to provide any alternative legislations for Muslim women to be empowered through. If there had been intention and farsight, the lens and approach would have been founded in more rigorous and systemic solutions that the socioeconomic complexities in issues such as these require.

There should have been a foundation to this cause, programmes, boards, and most importantly an inclusion of the stakeholders because any effective change comes with a tedious and lengthy building of steps towards empowerment.

What the judgement argues is within the purview of the rights of a community and those of an individual. The debate over the rights of the community cannot and should not be dismissed. The court has in this regard absolved itself of setting any considerable precedent in upholding the rights to equality of the individual even in the face of archaic practices of a community.

Robust social reform is guaranteed by a strong exchange between judicial activism, legislation and community inclusion to garner consent from within the communities. True political will can only be reflected in a policy that is inclusive, respectful of heterogeneity and radical, not in imposition but in execution.

Triple Talaq and its existence must be considered condemnable by important sections of the population that practice it for this to be considered a reform and not infliction. Policy framers should be asking questions about programmes created for exposure, education, awareness and the overall socio-economic upliftment of the marginalised minority while discussing gender along the intersection of religious and community-related practices.

Here it is also important to revisit the Constituent Assembly debates while deciding on personal laws and civil code. According to Article 26 of the Indian Constitution, there exists a need to allow communities to self-determine while the state has the right to protect the individual’s interest.

Finally, the narrative around Hindu saviours of oppressed Muslim women must be fought with the utmost rigour. This narrative is not about the women, this is not about their oppression, this is about demonising a community to strike down their right to assert their identity and their customs and bring them under the preview of a homogeneous civil code informed by a hegemonic Hindu Code.

Such rhetoric is never about the victims of oppression. There are certain aspects of body politics to this. Women are considered property, so this is the apparent win of the Hindu man over the property of the Muslim men in deciding their fate and future. And that is as far away from empowerment as one can get, in a cross section of both gender and community politics.

Let us not forget that the history of cases around Triple Talaq precedes the present government, and so do the judgements that lead up to this Supreme Court verdict. It is to be welcomed by the women who fought it and theirs are the stories that deserve celebration.

There is a compelling case to be made for the need to find former victims of this practice and a more sustainable approach to reform public policy and legislation. In projecting this decision as a victory of a government which has evidently marginalised minority communities, we are sending out the wrong message to this democracy, and laying grounds for what can be catastrophic results.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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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