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I Had To Drop A Case Against Stalkers Because Of The Police’s Response To It

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A prevalent question asked by men’s rights’ activists is: If women are getting assaulted and raped, why do they not report it?

In the recent wake of the Hollywood fiasco (where all the people who have been accused have faced very little flak and will continue to make billions), the question becomes rhetorical.

What happens to the common people, though? Why not report when the perpetrators are people who do not have any power? Obviously, some of the reasons include the perpetrators being close relatives and friends and the lack of evidence – which, I must say, is almost impossible to obtain when it is a case of sexual assault.

Which person in their right mind would tell a girl over a call/text/ WhatsApp message that they have sexually assaulted her? A similar proof where the girl has recorded something is not an option available at every instance of the assault.

I am a person who loves visiting historical places and monuments. I love the subject and spend my time watching historical documentaries on Netflix. I visited the Purana Qila (Old Fort) in Delhi because I knew it was a historical site and had a broader history than just being a fort for Humayun and Sher Shah Suri.

I went there along with my boyfriend (let’s call him Chris for anonymity’s sake). Both of us are not natives of Delhi – he has recently moved here for a job, and I have come to visit for an internship. We had absolutely no idea that Purana Qila had an extremely shady environment and was frequented by couples who did ‘activities’ there ranging from making out to intercourse!

We went there and started walking straight to the buildings. Suddenly, a boy stopped Chris, and asked him- “Kyun bhai? Kahan ja rahe ho? (Where are you going?).” Chris was taken aback, and before he could say anything, I reacted. I pulled my phone and threatened the boy that I was calling the police. I asked him what his problem was. He revealed that his friends had been secretly taking a video of us. I screamed at him and told him that this was a crime and I could get them behind bars for stalking.

They started apologising, and the boy after fiddling on his phone told me that he had deleted the video. However, my gut told me something was wrong, and I snatched the phone from that boy and browsed through the gallery. Surprise! The video was still there, in all its stalkerish glory.

I immediately called the police. Meanwhile, both Chris and I went to the main entrance of the Fort to wait for the police. There the authorities of the Old Fort started questioning us about what had happened. They pulled Chris aside and told me to stand away from him. They asked him questions like what were we doing? Were doing anything inappropriate?

Chris got really angry and asked them if we would have created such a fuss if we had actually had been doing something inappropriate. They responded with a “No one looks like they have done anything wrong anyway.” I had to intervene at this stage. I told the authorities about my parents and threatened them that I come from a family of IAS officers, and I won’t hesitate to take action, especially since I had done absolutely no wrong.

On hearing that I was connected to IAS officers and a current cabinet minister, they changed their stand completely. Chris then showed them the video that had been taken. They completely changed their stance after that.

After waiting for about 45 mins, the police arrived proudly (they wanted to satisfy all the people who called them). They asked me what had happened, and while one of the officers was asking questions and trying to clarify what had happened, the other officer secretly called Chris and told him: “I really don’t care what your relationship with that girl is. She might be your sister, friend, or cousin. It does not matter to me. But she will be deeply humiliated if you pursue the case.”

Chris did not say anything. He came and told me what the police officer had said. I had half a mind to get my parents involved and take those boys to the police station. However, it is a very sensitive time for me, and I cannot afford another tension at this point. So, I decided not to pursue the case.

I realised that I had tried to stand up for myself, and two things had ended up happening:
1. I was moral policed by the authorities.
2. I was denied my own agency.

Chris was supposed to decide what to do. What was a girl to do at such a stage? I did not know, so I screamed at them. I told them Chris was nobody to decide what was to be done, and that if they wished to talk to someone about the case, it was me.

This is a disgusting incident that took place. It angered me to no end. My agency was taken away. Why are girls supposed to do only what the males present with them tell them to do?

The police authorities have no right to moral police anyone. I was there of my own volition. I was not harming anyone. I was walking. Walking in this country has become a problem.

If every time girls report incidents like these and are moral policed, who will want to report incidents like these?

And people say the need for feminism has abated.

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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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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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