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If It Is Gauri Lankesh Today, It Could Be Us Tomorrow

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With utmost grief and profound fear, we bid farewell to one of India’s bravest journalist – Gauri Lankesh. Grief because she was the mouthpiece of several common people and fear because these are dark times.

It is incidents such as these, when we should compare ourselves with countries where religious fanaticism leads to the deaths of liberal thinkers. We need to stop smirking at others and set things right in our country first.

It is also tough for scribes like me who have just started walking on the path of journalism. It is difficult for us to concentrate on our career when such incidents occur and shake us up. But if death is imperative, I would like to repeat what Che Guevara had said about this – “I would rather die standing up than live life on my knees.”

We who have started our career in journalism, should not forget our motives and should always look for the silver lining in every cloud. Rather than curling back into our protective cocoons, it is time for even a young scribe to wield their pen against such atrocities. If it is Gauri Lankesh today, it could be us tomorrow.

It is now time for us to delve into a few realities of the industry. I would like to take up the opportunity to ask the readers, especially journalists, are you really free? Do you get to practice what you believe? Do you really have freedom of speech? Don’t spend much time on thinking about the answer, we all know it!

Thousands of Lankeshes and Kalburgis die in the country every year because of dissent; dissent from popular beliefs and propagated theories. They die because they are few in number. A handful who have the courage to call a spade a spade. And here most of us are the pack of wolves who nod at everything our editors say.

We call ourselves journalists and all we do is follow, preach and propagate what the majority thinks. We are so cautious that we even use our social media profiles carefully, keeping in mind to not hamper the reputation of the company. We are chained not physically but mentally because we fear to join the small group that is spearheaded by people who deserve to be called journalists.

But let us not forget, if we join in large numbers, we might have less food to eat and fewer clothes to wear but we will earn a lot of respect. Respect for bringing back true journalism and respect for being the mouthpiece of crores of people who are living the lives of slaves.

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  1. Sevanand Gaddala

    The shock of the death of Gauri Lankesh hasn’t fully sunk in yet, but I am meditating on three sacred fluids in helping me grieve her death. First is blood, her blood. I want her killers to know that through her shedding blood they have made her a martyr. We now will make all those things she stood for into a greater cause. There will be more people now reading about her and what she believed in than when she was alive. Second sacred fluid is the ink. She was a journalist and writer. In her death she has also shed ink. Not wasted spilt ink. But ink that will be used to write praises to her and her causes. The killers might have thought her death would serve as a warning to other outspoken journalists. But there will be more ink used to celebrate her work than all the blood in her beautiful lifeless body. The third is her brain fluid. What her killers need to understand is that she was a great woman. The difference between great and ordinary people is that extraordinary people are about ideas. Usually the greatest of people are about a grand overarching idea. Either they come up with it, communicate it or embody it. The killers don’t relaise that you cannot kill an idea. It is eternal. And now with her death, she will draw people, thousands, to look upon and examine her ideas; beautiful ideas – against communal politics, against caste system, and freedom of press. Ideas are not bound by flesh and blood. Human bodies are merely carriers of these ideas. Hers was one such.

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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.

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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.

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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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