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Meet Ankita, The 20-Year-Old Roadies Contestant Who Came Out On National TV

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Remember Ankita Mehra, the girl from the Roadies Rising auditions? Early this year, she made the headlines for confessing her sexuality on national television. Post the telecast of the show there were lots of rumours like ‘the audition was scripted’, ‘the girl did it for publicity’ and the most popular rumour was ‘Ankita Mehra went missing/kidnapped post the telecast of the show’. To be very honest, I was impressed and I really wanted to know her side of the story and to know the truth I spoke to her on one fine evening.

The Audition: Neither Scripted Nor Planned

Viacom18 have been supporting the LGBTQ community since the very beginning. Bigg Boss has had at least one member from the community in almost every season, while MTV India showcased many episodes in its various shows in support of the community.

Early this year, the audience witnessed a 20-year-old girl confessing her sexuality on the Roadies Rising auditions that left people shocked. For this brave act, she got support from all four gang leaders. They praised and encouraged her and wished her a bright future.

Dismissing the rumours she said, “Neither was the show scripted nor had I planned it that way. It was the roughest phase of my life and I was going through depression. There was no plan to come out, I just wanted to present myself the way I am. ‘The real me’. So, it was a life-changing moment when I accepted the fact in front of the whole world. Actually it was not coming out to the world; in fact, it was coming out to myself.”

She informed that no one forced or asked her to do so. She just decided not to hide it anymore and this decision changed her life. About the kidnapping and missing rumour, she just laughed. She had no idea where people got this news from, but she mentioned that it was not true at all. She was busy looking for jobs during the time.

The Depression: Commitment-phobic Girlfriends

As a teenager, her life was going through a rough phase. She was unable to recover from a heartbreak. She hoped for an ordinary love story where she could confess her love towards her girlfriend in front of society and the world, but it could not happen.

Despite being committed, her girlfriend was not ready to accept their relationship in front of their respective families. Ankita was deeply in love with her and she tried hard to convince her, her girlfriend couldn’t see sense in that. They broke up soon after.  This was not the first time that Ankita had loved and lost but it broke her completely. She went into depression and her loneliness made the situation even worse.

A 10-Page Letter To Her Father: The Emotional Breakdown

Commitment-phobic and closet girlfriends broke Ankita completely and as a result, she went into depression. In the toughest phase of her life, she was alone and also tried hard but failed to express her feelings to her family members, especially her parents. This unfortunate situation was making her condition even worse, but instead of giving up she gathered courage and decided to come out to her father through a letter.

After reading the letter, he called Ankita. The two of them got emotional and cried their hearts out. Surprisingly, her father turned out to be her Super-Hero and his one line eased her all troubles. “You are my daughter, my little angel. I have loved you; I love you and will love forever no matter what. Your sexual preference can’t change my love towards you and I regret that being a responsible father I was not there for you in your tough time,” he said.

Happy Days Are Here Again

Today Ankita has a wonderful relationship with her girlfriend; she shares a very strong bond with her father and is receiving tremendous support from her mother. Her girlfriend’s parents are also on board with this unique relationship and they are planning to get married in the near future. Currently, both are focusing on their respective careers and enjoying this wonderful relationship. After this experience, Ankita shares a special message for the members of the LGBTQ community.

“All of you, every single one of you, you’re a star in your own right. Many of you have embraced your true self and been vocal about it to the world. Bless you! And to the ones who might still be lurking in the shadows regarding this, be strong. Don’t compromise on the authenticity of your being. One day, this strength will take you forward and you’ll do what’s the best for yourself, your life and people around you. Peace and love” expressed Ankita.

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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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