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From Gorakhpur To #MeToo, What YKA’s Top Users Wrote About In October

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Change, much like everything else, follows Newton’s third law of motion. If there is no action, there won’t be a reaction. If we don’t take the first step towards change, nothing will ever happen.

This month, these are the 10 issues that our users have taken a step towards by raising their voice, with hopes to start a change.

1. Creating a safer internet

The internet is an amazing place – you can do anything, be anyone you want. You can share your thoughts, engage in conversation with people across the world, be a part of something bigger. Sadly, a lot of people choose to be an anonymous, hate-mongering troll just waiting for an opportunity.

As part of #NoPlace4Hate, Facebook India and YKA’s attempt to make the internet a safe space, The Egoist Poststructuralist shares his personal experience of facing abuse online for being an openly gay man and how he tackled it without being abusive himself.

The Abuse I’ve Faced Online As A Queer Person In The Name Of ‘Free Speech’

Editor’s Note: With #NoPlace4Hate, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook have joined hands to help make the Internet a safer space for all. Watch this space for powerful stories of how young people are mobilising support and speaking out against online bullying. The internet is a magical space.

Follow The Egoist Poststructuralist on YKA

You can also write about your experiences with online abuse and how it can be tackled here.

2. Stigma faced by women dealing with addiction

Society almost always fails to see addiction for what it really is – a mental health issue. And while it can affect anyone, if you are a woman, everything gets linked to your character.
In her sharp article, Nandini Mazumder explains the shaming that women are made to face for drinking, smoking or using drugs.

A Woman With A Drug Addiction Deserves Help, Not A ‘Bigdi Hui’ Tag

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.

Follow Nandini on YKA

Nandini’s post is a part of #BigdiHuiLadki/#BigdaHuaLadke, a campaign by YKA and BBC Media Action to fight society’s unreasonable labels. You can be a part of it here.

3. The forgotten children of Gorakhpur

It’s been over two months since 60 children died in a hospital in Gorakhpur because of a shortage in oxygen supply. Seeing the blame game that followed, and how quickly the tragedy was lost from public memory speaks volumes to India’s crumbling healthcare system.

Nissim Mannathukkaren, faculty at Canada’s Dalhousie University and a writer at The Hindu, reminds us of why Gorakhpur needs to stay alive in our conscience and the reality of our public healthcare.

When Gorakhpur Is Forgotten

” The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.” – Charles-Louis Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws, 1748). It is almost two months since the Gorakhpur tragedy in which over 60 children died in a hospital allegedly due to lack of oxygen supply.

Follow Nissim on YKA

4. Mental health is for everyone

Every year on October 10, we observe World Mental Health Day to educate, raise awareness, and eradicate stigma. But as India’s mental healthcare system goes from bad to worse and more Indians suffer from mental illnesses, it’s perhaps time for a new perspective.
Providing this view is Jhilmil Breckenridge who stresses upon the need to stop seeing things from a ‘normal-abnormal’ viewpoint.

Why Every Day Should Be World Mental Health Day

This story is a part of Youth Ki Awaaz’s weekly topic #WorldMentalHealthDay to create a conversation about mental health in India. Share your personal stories of coping with a mental illness, trying to access mental healthcare or any experience with mental health here.

Follow Jhilmil on YKA

5. #MeToo: Derailing the conversation

An overwhelming and heartbreaking number of narratives have flooded social media since the start of #MeToo. The campaign has reinforced the massive prevalence of sexual harassment that women face, hardly any woman would be unaffected.

While sharing her experiences, Suchetana Sinha talks about how a meme she shared (of Krishna stealing women’s clothes while they bathed) became an excuse to not just troll her but to also derail the entire conversation around sexual harassment and bring the focus on religion instead.

#MeToo: It’s Not Harassment If The Lord Does It, Right?

Editor’s Note: With #NoPlace4Hate, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook have joined hands to help make the Internet a safer space for all. Watch this space for powerful stories of how young people are mobilising support and speaking out against online bullying.

Follow Suchetana on YKA. 

6. Women in public spaces

From goddesses to victims of sexual violence – that’s the reality of women in India. Homes, cities, villages, offices, schools, colleges, the unruly mob of India leaves no place. In her latest article, Annu Singh shares how she and her friends have faced sexual violence in different walks of life.

भीड़ के बहाने मेरे हिप्स और स्तन को छूने वाला ये भारत महान नहीं हो सकता

कुछ ‘अनचाहे अनुभव’ जब तक हम किसी से बांटते नहीं हैं, तब तक हमें ऐसा लगता है कि वो सिर्फ हमारे साथ हुए हैं। फिर जब उसे हम किसी अपने के साथ बांटते है, उस पर सहजता से बात करना शुरू करते हैं, तब हमें यह पता चलता है कि

Follow Annu on YKA.

7. Fighting society’s labels

When you’re born as a woman in a poor family, the odds are really stacked up against you. Everyone around you tries their best to pull you down, remind you of ‘your place’. Bravely fighting these odd is Vinita Rav’s inspiring story. Born in a jhuggi in Delhi’s Indira colony, she shares how she stayed strong in her resolve to educate herself. Today, Vinita is a research scholar in Delhi University.

एक लड़की होते हुए स्लम में रहकर मेरा पढ़ाई करना आसान नहीं था

मैं दिल्ली के एक छोटे कस्बे जिसे आम तौर पर स्लम एरिया के नाम से जाना जाता है वहां से हूं। मेरी कॉलोनी का नाम इन्दिरा कॉलोनी है जो पंजाबी बाग एरिया में है। स्लम में रहने की बात को आज जितनी आसानी से स्वीकार करती हूं, सालों पहले ये

8. Films that go beyond just entertainment

Most news from Bollywood has been reduced to ‘masala’ and gossip. Even when we look at market consumption, there is a higher demand for news on parties, relationships, controversies. Does this mean that cinema no longer holds a mirror to society? Busting that myth is Syed Touheed’s recent posts that focus on crucial issues in Bollywood that deserve more attention.

कहानी यश चोपड़ा और अमिताभ बच्चन की जिनके साथ ने बॉलीवुड को दिया एंग्री यंग मैन

अमिताभ बच्चन ने यश चोपड़ा के साथ पहली बार ‘दीवार’ (1975) और अंतिम बार ‘सिलसिला’ (1981) में काम किया। 1975 से 1981 के बीच अमिताभ और यश चोपड़ा की जोड़ी ने दीवार, कभी कभी, त्रिशूल, काला पत्थर और सिलसिला जैसी सफल फिल्में दी। ऋषिकेश मुखर्जी की तरह यश चोपड़ा ने

Follow Syed on YKA.

9. Supreme Court’s landmark judgement on marital rape

After a petition was filed under Section 375(2) by an NGO called Independent Thought, the Supreme Court ruled that sex with a minor wife would be treated as rape. Breaking down what this means, Rachana Priyadarshini explains how this can be a crucial step in putting an end to child marriage.

अब 18 साल से कम उम्र की पत्नी की ना का मतलब भी ‘ना’ ही होगा

माननीय सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने इंडिपेंडेंट थॉट (Independent Thought) नामक एक NGO द्वारा दायर की गई याचिका के मद्देनज़र अपने एक महत्वपूर्ण फैसले में कहा कि किसी भी व्यक्ति द्वारा, नाबालिग पत्नी के साथ जबरन शारीरिक संबंध बनाने को रेप माना जाएगा। इस NGO ने अपनी याचिका में आइपीसी की धारा-375

Follow Rachana on YKA.

10. Using farmers are political bait

A farmer in India is only important as long as they can be exploited for vote bank politics. Writing a piercing commentary on the BJP state government’s apathy towards its farmers, YKA user and state president of Congress in Chhattisgarh, Bhupesh Baghel says that the current policies have no intention of providing any relief to the farmers. Reminding the state government of its election manifesto, he asks if ‘achhe din’ will really ever come.

छत्तीसगढ़ सरकार का किसानों के लिए ‘बोनस तिहार’ पर भूपेश बघेल का विश्लेषण

छत्तीसगढ़ में भाजपा के लिए किसान का मतलब सिर्फ वोट होता है। किसान खुदकुशी कर रहे हैं और भाजपा सरकार मानती भी नहीं कि क़र्ज़ की कोई समस्या है। खुदकुशी करने वाले किसानों के परिजनों को मुआवज़ा भी नहीं देती, दुख बांटने तक की ज़हमत नहीं उठाती। सूखे से किसान

Follow Bhupesh on YKA.

Every month, thousands of users share stories on issues that matter to them on Youth Ki Awaaz. If there are stories you want to share, issues you want to talk about, log in and directly publish now!

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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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