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Breaking Plutonian Fallacy

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Remember the time and energy we spent on learning– how many planets in the universe, with rings-without life, smallest to hottest to farthest? One day just like that Pluto was out of the planet community. Scientific discoveries are argued, researched and then accepted without bending of facts or figures but when it comes to sociological advancements Pluto can go from being tagged as a victim of unjust researchers, to an aging hero to eventually attain sainthood preached by followers of forgotten tribe who-never-accept-change for society. Women as one such theory in this society are supposed to work on the principle of fiction than reality; fail to comply with cultural enlightenments, aberrant to radical improvements that have outgrown its interstellar reach on earth. Men including women have bag-packed to jump onto living in that society as science offers Plutonian uncertainty-of-being-wiped-off the history.

This psychological tussle has reasons to prevail as we retrospect women in same angle with different equipments of change. If men decided on rules dictating the oblivion, it’s women who embraced them to avoid challenging scientific horizons that meant plunging deep into societal conflicts then. What now, have we travelled far enough to leave behind the old definitions limiting women? While the west reached early, here east is still proudly chasing the Plutonian Oasis. We the Bollywood-breathing-plutonians live in a mixed-audience age that cheers for Sultan’s wife happily giving up her dreams to see her husband wrestling at the same time have millions clapping over Dangal, a father’s endeavor to push forward her girls. By Sultan-Dangal rationale, women in society have become a phrase composed of two heavy word challengers up in for a development race. Society gets past women in the chase of proving their status, hails the roots that saw norms-are-norms from convenient age of savages copy-pasted till now in competitive age of so-called-civilized eternity.

Let’s discuss some popular Plutonian beliefs and their unconventional solutions while drawing a life cycle of moth-pupa-to-a-butterfly diagram for women (better for chastity to avoid female organelle representation) to figure out what women are, have made themselves, win or lose to whom and how unconsciously life wings them with colors to each one of them.

Birth Trivia:

A girl born is a spending that has no returns, a boy brings wife, dowry and is an investment for life.

A third time pregnant Bulal Naskar explained on her preference of boy as they carry family name ahead, girls go to different families. Birth ratio related to old age parental insecurities, how lame does that appear? Our eyes living the real feats of girls like Sania Mirza to PV Sindhu, Deepa karmakar to Sakshi Malik who are worthier than any pilgrimage but we prefer being narrated fiction where only Shravan Kumars can carry their blind parents. They have tried female infanticide to reach Haryana-Punjab acme, even trafficking from north east is of no help, khap panchayats mobile-internet slamming to beti bachao andolans. Why don’t we do things differently copy west, works or fails we always have western culture to blame anyways!

Caesarean dead-ends: So a law that makes every alcohol efficient girl and boy child at the age of 21 to move out, earn and live on their own. Taking care of parents will come as a responsibility not liability, high time to declare dowry a crime that saw sinuous in-laws, preventing suicides-to-murders. Everyone must have surely come across several like Ramprasad Diwan, ‘Dahej to hum lete nahi par samaj mein shaadi hogi to log dekhenge!’ who is against dowry but open to accepting gifts in the name of society. For parents need to make a two time investment of nurturing values at young and becoming  independent  for themselves  as old age investment because future has no guarantees of  respect or security in boy’s paradise later. Harsh it may sound but lesser than destroying female foetus, beating-to-burning brides, throwing of parents who only invested in boys.

Age Brouhaha: Child marriage is less prevalent in these times, even if it does it’s more do with north western regions like Rajasthan.

‘Why is it that you agreed to get married? ‘Mujhe ghumane le jayega. Bas maine haan bola, Baba ko bhi jaldi thi,’ answered a mother of six month old, claiming eighteen herself with his thirty something Assamese husband who continued in pride, ‘Job wala hoon khila sakta hoon.’ Young girls figuring out marriage a  settlement  for house of their own, an adventure or being agreeable to parents and the men with work justifying age gaps. (Couldn’t agree less to Nobel  laureate Kailash Satyarthi who views early marriage equivalent to child trafficking.)

Random age of married girls in villages is between 16-21 and in cities the range gets wider till acceptable thirties. ‘Marrying off young keeps youngsters healthy’, yes it’s a thinking of not only politicians with super intelligence but common masses as handling of girls eloping, putting forward their choice of partners, teenage pregnancies and young men’s fast-food led outbursts that could all be handled with just one solution marriage. What they don’t see coming is an illogical generation repeating this ignorance, poor health standards- weaker girls to malnourished mothers and the cycle of ill-health that continues as bigger investments for aspiring politicians.

Childlike dead-ends: What if our society has it sorted with men deciding on their marriageable age, question marriage for themselves as women being a pass-on-deal for easy household work or a partner for better contributing hand in everyday income? What if government thinks of making an amendment that includes education, working experience (get over that innocuous period leave debate) for both irrespective of the economic background as a qualifying parameter for marriage along with age, now? To those who never went to school have formal six month education including pre-marriage counseling as population reforms. Copy much hated west to check whether a married couple is self sufficient to take care of a child and have rights to take away the baby in case they fail to have resources. Difficult but if cashless projects and demonetization found their way so should literacy in first place. A literate hand against the thumb might help optic nerves to function in order that it views education before everything else.

Marriage Dynamics: Reproductive  myths  of  women responsible for girl child.

This one comes right from the fact that every eight in ten men remain uneducated on sex.  In a government rural primary health center, three teenage boys who barged in with balloons, stretched it on the face of   Anwesha Clinic counselor Madhumita Modak and asked for more supplies.  When she said, ‘Sit  we need to talk about it.’  They giggled, ‘Have done it to know it.’  She elaborated on their age, whom they are doing with might have consequences; saw blunt reply of it was none of her business. Right sex education doesn’t only involve procedure but the consent, safety, diseases to emotional well being of a young mind that has gadgets to feed them before parents or educators do. They say predisposing them to before-age-knowledge would have delirious effects. Is Rape headlines over sex education a better choice of information?  Delhi- the shameful rape capital just left with non-functional Nirbhaya helplines does need to consider sex education at least  for politicians (porn watching to just suspended parliamentarians), sensitization of women organizations (to get basics right before they leap), censor board (allows blue movies circulation but objects to progressive mainstream cinema).

Proposing Dead-ends: Limiting undesirable sun-drying sights of women undergarments, newspaper wrapped sanitary-morals, long clothing to marrying early ideals are the kind of mature measures we take for young girls safety. It’s time we stop regressing can’t even say backwards for a civilization that has unapologetic ancestors from Khajuraho.  Fact is our Plutonian society considers not only sex but even love as a taboo and has saffron-torchbearers barge in the name of culture to end the picture right at kissing. What comes after should remain the mystery of arranged horror as we still make up stories and are not equipped to answer our children when they ask, ‘Mom where do babies come from?’  Start from love to sex to break the jinx sooner than it’s late as aliens on earth might even have marriage in their taboo-dom!

Whimsical Respect : Mothers, sister, girlfriends, wives, those in family and outside deserve different levels of respect.

In June 2015, Nobel prize winner Tim Hunt professed ideas about gender segregated labs as he considered women scientists as distractions. Soon enough in December 2016, all women scientists taking on an expedition to Antarctica was in news.  This Plutonian war of sexes of pulling- down- to- prove who can do without the other or the one wronged, shall continue. This comes from an understanding from the times we began our mother-sister slangs to arrive at beeping them as correction.

Tangible dead-ends: The respect you expect for your mother-sister-or-be-any woman has degrees of deviance. Let’s ask us ourselves, ‘Why should we respect women?’  Right from Rani laxmi bai to Sunita Williams to a normal housewife do they get ovation due to their extraordinary grit, achievement , resilience respectively or because they were just women who tried matching up to men? No! This respect that women deservedly ask comes from the demands of a world where  even animals, birds, everything created by nature seeks. Even men need respect, don’t they? So for men with issues, for their own honor should respect women until they figure a day that justifies their existence without one.

Independence dilemma : Dependent women make less of a rebel.

The plutonian society has the type of men who claim, ‘Jyada udne lagte hain,’ in abundance. So that they don’t soar high, just never let them know of their wings. This society uncomfortably fears on change that self-discovering women in flight might bring , therefore by flagging illiteracy they try to keep independence enslaved. But illiteracy has been much underrated, hidden advancements of keeping women in front of television, giving them cell-phones, leaving them at home with electrical appliances, letting them help with your children’s homework, even collecting newspaper are avenues that can be held accountable in the making of a rebel.

Sci-fi dead-ends: Why don’t bearded wise-folks try considering men and women as not warring heads pitched against each other but god’s two complements together against ignorance, education for both to empower not retaliate, benefit not blunder, learn and not loot can be the key.

Rightful equality: Women rights are for those who faced oppression, domestic violence, work harassment and men are the only ones to be educated on it.

As far as rights are concerned women are the ones who need to learn them first.  Complaining aunties, intrusive-chachis, abusive mother-in –laws, bitching bhabhijis need firsthand knowledge of  who a rightful woman is? Then they can very well shut up respective uncleji’s in their homes.  When  a  girl talks of equality, she should let her legs talk of it in a bus and not quarrel for a seat too. For liberation doesn’t mean going from burkha to bikini, it is meant for lending your hands to those who go far beyond equality to silently endure sufferings as they don’t even know what they need to fight for. Rights are meant for upliftment of those women.

Non-weighable dead-ends: Feminism is not a tool one needs to flash for brandishing men for any random opinion of theirs, it is supporting those fail to understand the Plutonian standards, replenishing minds to sync in symphony that needs to hear both men and women equally. Enough of those weight-balance/batkhara examples for women, look girls let men take the steering you anyways wheeled the pressure of engines for eons, take the backseat enjoy! Time will come when driving men will come for you as they no longer can take you for a ride.

This article was first published in Women’s Era.

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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.

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.

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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, 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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