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‘I Don’t Care About Virginity’: 11 Women On The Change They Want Around Sex And Sexuality

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By Akshita Nagpal:

Women talk about sex, yes – you heard it right. On Women’s Day, Love Matters India asked women about the change they want to see around sex and sexuality.

Out With The Hesitation

“Young women are so ashamed to say anything to do with sex or organs that are considered related to having sex. Words like sex, breasts, are so difficult for them to say aloud. I want this hesitation to go.

Secondly, women need to know about safe-sex practices because it really affects them if there’s an accidental pregnancy, or they get a sexually-transmitted disease. This knowledge should be available to all women, right from teenagers and young adults.”

*Aarna, 25, health professional

Sometimes I Want It, Sometimes I Don’t

“Sex should not be forced on the woman; it should be a choice. She should be able to say when she feels like having sex and when she doesn’t. Being able to say this is so important!

Secondly, sex after marriage is not just for making babies. But there is so much societal pressure to get pregnant. It should be her choice about what she wants to do with her body.”

Amita, 31, artist

Hear Me Out, Partner

“Before expecting any change in society, there should be openness between partners, whether married or not. A woman should be able to tell her sexual desires to her partner without being labelled as uncultured or ‘extra-free’.”

Ishita, 29, homemaker

I May Not Like What You Like

“I want to see women get more say. Men presume that the sexual acts they like are the ones that will also be liked by women. That’s what I want to see being changed. Women’s ‘no‘ is also always inaudible to men.”

Sharda, 24 years, postgraduate student

Let Us Know All About Sex

“There is no concept of sex education in our country! I know women in my peer group who use these contraceptives without any know-how about their usage. For instance, some are popping emergency-contraceptive pills at a worrying rate. Sex education with regards to abortion and contraception should be improved to improve women’s sexual choices.

In relation to the act of sex, I would like everyone to understand that women are also active pleasure-seekers.”

Harmanjeet, 25, teacher

Women Talk About Sex. Deal With It

“Openly talking about sex is taken in a negative way – like on this road, if I talk about it, people are going to stare at me for doing that. I would like people to be educated in the real sense and be more open-minded with regards to women talking about sex.”

Kaashvi, 18, college student

You Feel It, I Feel It Too

“I wish that women won’t be put to shame for putting forth their sexual desires. The desire for sex comes naturally to men and women alike, just like puberty comes naturally to them. Similarly, men’s testosterone urges are so glorified. But, women being hormonal is not understood. All this has to be understood as an extension of sex.”

Tanya, 36, playschool teacher

No Virginity Pressure, Please

“There is too much pressure on women to maintain their virginity. This needs to go. Sex needs to be taken more lightly. Personally, I don’t care about these virginity expectations. But a lot of us get affected by it.”

Shayna, 22, nurse

Don’t Keep A Count For Us

“Just like men are not asked about how many women they have slept with, women should not be asked how many times they have had sex. It’s as simple as that.”

Anupa, 25, lecturer

Don’t Judge Us

“There should be more solidarity among women when talking about sex. Each woman should be respected for her choice of having sex, or even not having sex. If, as a single woman, I don’t have sex, I should not be judged as being less of a woman or being an infant.”

Ishita, 25, media professional

Sex Beyond Intercourse

“I am an urban, working woman, with a lot of privilege. Yet, there was nothing or no one to tell me about deriving pleasure from sex, in ways other than intercourse. We need to popularise these ideas to let women discover about sex and sexuality, say, through some sex-education portals. Maybe this would move the idea of sex beyond intercourse, because sex is more than that.”

Mriganka, 26, management consultant

*Names changed

What is that one change you want to see about women and sex? Tell Love Matters (LM) on our Facebook page. If you have a specific question, please ask LM experts on our discussion forum.

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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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