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An Open Letter To PM Modi: Put An End To Sexual Violence And Rape

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Respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi,

I write this letter with a heavy heart and an even heavier conscience.

We have failed. We have failed as a collective, as a nation and as a society.

We have failed to put an effective stop to sexual violence. We have failed to recognize this rampaging epidemic with the strictness it warrants. We have failed to acknowledge the shortcomings that lead to gender inequality in our practices, many times ignoring them in our households and day to day lives. We silently and foolishly contrive in creating a backward and brutal mindset in the minds of men and in some cases women as well. We have failed to self-introspect on why sexual violence and in particular sexual violence against women, is such a common piece of news in our country.

We have failed to understand the mindset and the environment that creates individuals who become impulse governed monsters. We have failed to study the issue and address the root cause. We have failed to implement strategies to ensure safety for the citizens – women, children and men who are affected by such dastardly acts. We have failed to send a strong message to the criminals and perpetrators stating that India takes sexual violence seriously and that justice will be swift and will always be served no matter who the accused is. We have failed to understand the importance of gender awareness, education and equality in today’s context.

We have failed at so much already. I refuse to fail by being a bystander while my country and its inhabitants suffer because of all our collective failures.

Sir, My request to you is as below-

  1. Kindly get our government and the lawmakers to reassess our legal justice system and see where we are going wrong in controlling crimes of sexual violence. The Ministry of women and child development and the Ministry of human resource development and the Ministry of human resource development will have to play a crucial role in eradicating this social evil.
  2. Appoint a national committee to study the pattern, statistics and the cases registered of sexual violence and look at the root cause of why these crimes are occurring in the first place. The committee should comprise of people who are educated, qualified and are experts in the areas of law and justice, constitutional amendments, sexual crime and violence, psychiatry, psychology, medicine, rehabilitation and social integration, and, last but never the least, education.
  3. Ask the committee to make a recommendation on how this epidemic needs to be tackled at every level of the society after analyzing why the crimes are being carried out.
  4. Ask organizations that are already working in this area to reach out to the government and share their resources and ideas on tackling this shameful problem.
  5. Create campaigns across the country and implement measures recommended by the experts.

I created a petition on Change.org sometime ago which I will attach with this letter. It has been signed by 170 people across the globe. A small number PM Sir, but a strong voice nonetheless. The mission is to “Make India Zero Tolerant To Rape Crimes. To Make India Safe”.

I am not an expert on any of the above subjects, Sir; nor am I naive enough to think that I have solutions for this evil. I am not even attempting to think that what I have written above is the best way to tackle the situation at hand. But I have understood one thing from all the history lessons and the present world left to us by our forefathers and foremothers.

Unless we start accepting the social evils that plague us, it is only a matter of time before we become victims to it as well. We need to rebel against these atrocities with non-violence. We need to change our thought process and challenge our thinking and way of life. It is in our hands to stop these atrocities.

Social change takes time to reach 100% completion. Education, awareness and grassroots level implementation of gender equality, gender rights and gender sensitization are the needs of the hour. To enable the creation of responsible, aware and educated citizens of tomorrow, we need to act today.

We as a nation are a cultural and religious hot pot- so many views and so many perspectives. But I for one am sure that none of the differences that we have because of our individual belief systems will ever condone sexual violence.

All the campaigns and funding for Save The Girl Child, educate a girl or any other women empowerment schemes seem pointless when girls and women across the country are at the risk of being molested, raped and murdered.

Modi Sir, I urge you to act now. I request you to take this issue with the utmost seriousness and set the ball rolling on creating a safer and better tomorrow for all the citizens and especially the women in India.

I have high hopes for my country and its development. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the safety of its citizens should be a top priority and takes precedence.

Sincerely

Shruthi Shankar


(Dear Readers- This is a draft and if you have any suggestions for me to include as part of this letter, please write to me at shruthi1985@gmail.com with the subject/title- Youth Ki Awaaz or YKA. I will edit the letter to include relevant points before sending it to the PMO’s office.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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