This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by KRITI MEHTA. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Vagina Woes

More from KRITI MEHTA

Some five years back, when I was shopping with my mother in the streets of Darya Ganj, a fine young black boy gathers the courage to pinch my rear, not once, not twice but three times. I was daring enough to gather equal courage to pull him back from the collar and paste a slap on his face and surrender him to the mob, leaving him at their mercy.
The question, however, is whether all this was really required? Why did he have to do a pitiful deed as such to be only humiliated at the end? Probably he hadn’t anticipated the consequence. And that’s thanks to the social structure – a patriarchy that condones and exalts sexual harassment, an administration that has no stringent laws for the protection of the fairer sex and above all a matriarchy that celebrates manhood and embraces suppression under its so-called ‘valour’ in the name of culture and religion.

“Being a woman is terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.” – Joseph Conrad. A statement that Conrad wrote in his novel Chance in 1913 seems to provide answer to one of the most haunting questions a century later in 2013 – “Why sexual harassment?”

Science declares that the desire for sexual activity has biological components, androgen in men and androgen and estrogen in women are believed to affect libido. Every individual gets a sexual drive that can be satisfied by ‘making love’ to a body and not having libido at the right time might well be a reason of concern, something not normal. But the question is whether biological determinism is such powerful that it supersedes psychological and social components affecting one’s sexual appetite? Has libido so much to do with the body that the soul is no determinant in controlling it?

Aren’t females as human as males are? Or are their genitals functional only when the penis wants to invade them? When I write humans get a biologically sane sexual drive, do i take away the females’ right to be called human? I clearly do not. Why is it then that females are mostly victimized in cases of sexual harassment? An obvious explanation would refer to the fragile female body but that does not imply that she is meant to satisfy the male lust. It’s true that there have been cases where males have been sexually exploited but in those cases too, the wrong doers are the males themselves. I do not defend feminism nor do I uphold a feminist approach in writing this but speaking from an analyst’s point of view, the male superiority has been such well-fed into the minds of men that their psyche and their conscious perceives it normal to dominate and exploit the female frame.

In cultures across the world, the female subordination has assumed a universal; a universal that places woman such close to nature that it becomes easy for the man to transcend her into his built culture; a culture that such engrosses woman in it, she accepts her subordinate role and finds it easier to continue and survive in order to gain acceptance rather than struggle, fight for her right and grace dismissal.

The SlutWalk protest marches began when Constable Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto Police officer, suggested that to remain safe, “women should avoid dressing like sluts.” Despite that on the murder of journalist Soumya Vishwanathan, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit made comments that ‘one should not be adventurous.’ And in an attempt to counteract this hate of women against women, One Billion Rising, a global campaign by women, for women that calls for an end to violence, and for justice and gender equality is held each year on February 14 marking it as the new V(vagina)-day. However, mere talking of bringing about institutional revolutions, change in legal frameworks, and reservation for women won’t help till the time a revolution in the mindsets is brought about.

Many opine that capital punishment is a deterrent for sexual harassment but surveys show that the 57 countries which give capital punishment for crimes pertaining to sexual harassment do not show any fall in its rate. Rather chances of cases of wrong convictions might rise and many innocent people may stand a chance of being wrongly executed due to planned conspiracy of the actual wrong-doer(s). Chances are also that capital punishment instead of condemning cases of sexual harassment will aggravate corruption in the society and rather elevate the rape cases behind bars, literally, with increased chances of involvement of the office bearers – further staining the social framework.  The biggest argument against capital punishment is that it is the ultimate denial of one’s human rights; it takes away the convict’s chance of reforming himself/herself. After all, what the world wants is not the execution of criminals but the elimination of crime. There is a reason why 97 countries have prohibited capital punishment, it is irrevocable. In the fear of being encountered and executed, the culprit might try to remove all evidence against him and even go to the extent of killing his victim. Can we afford that? Not only this, imposing capital punishment will also lead to less cases being reported and continuation of these heinous crimes within four-walls. We all know that cases of rapes are least in Saudi Arabia because of capital punishment meted out to the rapists, but how many of us know that one reason for this is also that many cases of rapes are not even reported in Saudi Arabia because the survivor fears of being stoned and fogged to death by the society. Therefore, the best solution is that the cases of sexual harassment be dealt with rapidly and no case be left pending. What will be effective is the certainty of a punishment and not its degree.

However, the other school of thought believes that the punishment sentenced must be as severe as the crime committed so that no one dares to even think of doing as shameful a crime as sexual harassment. And how can we expect a person accused of rape to reform himself? We argue abolition of capital punishment on the grounds that it curtails human right to life, but shouldn’t we question ourselves that are the culprits of rapes and gang rapes even worthy of being called ‘human’? Isn’t giving them the right to life unfair to the survivor who is left stigmatized for the rest of her/his life, unaccepted by the society, as good as dead? How can we allow these sinners to continue to live behind bars in a secured shelter, enjoying three meals per day, clean clothes, health amenities and all this at no expense? Above all, how can we let free a sinner once (s)he is sentenced imprisonment? Haven’t we learnt by now from the cases where the rapists after freeing from jail repeat the same offense, victimizing another human? The rule of law states that any and all wrong doer(s) must be punished. Weren’t we all punishment in school when we used to tease a classmate? Then how can we be lenient towards a criminal for molesting and ruining some individual’s life?

I condone that social reform can be brought only once moral reforms are brought about. Going by the adage that prevention is better than cure, I believe what is important to be thought about is not the punishment for but prevention of sexual harassment. We need to tame our rowdy horse, air a consciousness to protect our women and create education systems that strengthen this thought. It’s high time that men and women too stood up against woman’s subjugation. Crime against women will continue till the time mothers at home keep telling their sons, “Study hard. You’re not a girl whom we can just marry off”, till the time a sister keeps telling her brother, “Don’t cry like a girl!” or till the time a father keeps telling his daughter, “Learn some household chores. We can still tolerate, your in-laws won’t.” One has to become conscious of these little things, speak against small jokes against women, only then will the prevailing conditions change, change for the good.

Youth Ki Awaaz is an open platform where anybody can publish. This post does not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions.

You must be to comment.

More from KRITI MEHTA

Similar Posts

By vigorpopg

By Concert Care

By Health Menia

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        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.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        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.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below