This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Wamika Singh. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

If You’re A Girl Who Speaks Her Mind, You’re Trouble Just Like Me

More from Wamika Singh

Editor's note: This post is a part of #BHL, a campaign by BBC Media Action and Youth Ki Awaaz to redefine and own the label of what a 'bigda hua ladka or ladki' really is. If you believe in making your own choices and smashing this stereotype, share your story.

It was a Saturday afternoon. Dressed in my shorts and a royal blue t-shirt, I ran down the stairs. My daily evening ritual would begin around 5 pm when my friends from the colony would ring my door bell, inviting me to join them in loitering around the colony, sometimes on foot and sometimes on our bicycles.

Play time in the evening was the most awaited time of our day. After spending six hours that felt like years at our respective schools followed by the torture called ‘tuition’, evenings were our time. The streets belonged to us and we were free to do whatever we liked.

From climbing up the cement mountains near construction sites, to running after and then away from dogs. We could play hide and seek, fly kites, race towards the slope-like road on our bicycles or just sit on the grass contemplating if the abandoned old house in the last block was really haunted.

It was also in this space that we had claimed for ourselves that each of us was being judged by the people around us. As we leaned on cars for support and chatted about our class, maths and boys, we were coming under the radar of those ‘sweet’ aunties and uncles whose part time job was to spot potential bigde hue ladkas and ladkis (spoilt boys and girls).

Wamika Singh

They would pass us by giving us a smile or a mean look and we would be immediately blacklisted if we forgot to greet them or did not notice their intrusive presence around us.

Almost all the residents knew each other, the children and their parents. After finishing their household chores, women would come out in the evening to get some fresh air and discuss a thing or two. In this group of women, there would always be a few to spot the ‘bigde hue‘ (spoilt) children, who would patiently wait and veer the discussion towards her topic and then reveal her newest ‘spoilt kid’ discoveries.

Then, after a ‘Mrs Sharma’ had left the daily gathering at the park, the spoilt kid spotter would casually comment on how Mrs. Sharma’s son was roaming with a girl or how the guard had often seen him entering home way past midnight.

She would then go on to become an astrologer, revealing the future of Mrs Sharma’s son. How he didn’t study, how he was a distracted person who wouldn’t even help his parents in their old age and eventually bring disgrace to his family.

As a young girl with a strong sense of right and wrong, I was always ready to speak my thoughts and strongly expressed my views irrespective of the age and position of the person in front of me.

Easily irritated by the wrongdoings of others, I used to be very vocal about my dislike of certain people and on several occasions, I answered back to people older than me in the colony.

Saying what we had in mind and being straightforward equates to being impolite, ill-mannered and spoilt, as I learned later. My young self had no clue that raising your voice against people who say and do wrong things is also wrong.

Children while playing often tend to get into small fights. We too, while playing, got into little fights with a few children who said we could not cycle in front of their house. Now this house wasn’t some isolated property at the countryside where we were trespassing, it was a part of a colony where all the children cycled.

When I refused to stop cycling, these children got their parents involved who stopped my cycle, held it by the hand breaks and threatened to slap me if they saw me cycling near their house again. I told them that if they dared slap me, I would call the police and get them in jail. Quite a few nonsensical statements followed from their side where they just tried to bad mouth me because I refused to get scared. I was the stubborn ill-mannered child, who went around fighting in the colony.

Almost 10 years later, I was driving back home one day. When I entered the colony, a taxi came right in front of me from the left which was a blind spot for me since I was on the middle road. Without honking, it came speeding right in front of me and despite me quickly hitting the brakes, our vehicles banged into each other.

Fortunately, since I had hit the brakes in time, hardly any noticeable damage was done to the car and the passengers were all fine. I stayed in the car, calm and ready to sort things amicably. But the lady in the taxi came out angry spitting abuses from her mouth and shouting at me to come out of the car. She banged my window, tried to open my car and gathered a crowd. I was aware that I had done nothing wrong. I tried to call my parents to sort things out.

The woman said that I was a spoilt girl who was given a car by her parents and would have almost killed her and her family together. Appalled by such unnecessary allegations, I could not control my anger and burst out, finally talking to her in her language. Even though I was right on that day and was standing up for myself, since I was a young looking girl, it was easier for everyone to believe that I’m indeed a spoilt kid with a car, who drives rashly and doesn’t know how to talk to elders. So automatically, it was my fault.

As bad as I felt that day, I also realised that the judgement that people pass on you holds no merit in your life. People have created labels and stereotypes which will always try to pull you down, cage you, suffocate you and discourage you from being yourself and speaking your mind. But giving in to these labels is not the answer. Living in the same society we, too, have grown up with several stereotypes and labels. Be it at a market place, inside the metro or at a restaurant, we, too, have judged people with our friends and have had a laugh.

It’s time we unlearn these labels and let everyone just be. It is time to be carefree, it is time to fly.


You must be to comment.

More from Wamika Singh

Similar Posts

By Rakhi Bose

By Suchetana DuttaMaji

By Sajal Maji

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below