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The Sangh Parivar Doesn’t Need Muslims To Target Muslims, It Can Create Hate On Its Own

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I have lost count of the number of times I have repeated this. But as they say, you must repeat, if you are speaking with conviction and people have not listened.

In my eyes, Muslims do not drive the Sangh’s agenda. The Sangh’s agenda is driven by the Sangh alone, and you have absolutely no role to play. Get this straight. Muslims are insignificant in the Sangh’s scheme of things. This might hurt the affluent elite Muslims, but it is the truth. So please bear with it. Step out of your intellectual mirage, and instead, put your weight behind the Constitution of this country. There alone rests your emancipation.

There is a message circulating on Facebook and WhatsApp in the name of Ravish Kumar, in which he is appealing Muslims to shun politics. Ravish himself has clarified on Prime Time that it’s a piece of fake news, but to no avail. The message keeps popping up every now and then. Ravish, besides having rubbished such claims, has also made it unequivocally clear that he is against suggestions for Muslims to quit electoral politics, which are made from many pseudo-liberal quarters

About a year or so earlier, I too was of the opinion that Muslims should opt out from the electoral fray, and initiate a voluntary act towards temporary disenfranchisement. It was after the Uttar Pradesh assembly results were declared where the mandate of the Muslims had been ridiculed. The community stared at an uncertain future, in what was more of a shock than in awe of Hindutva – a shock, which within months of the swearing-in, turned into irredeemable pain.

It was a typical case of a knee-jerk reaction on my part, borne out of frustration and not an elitist approach. It’s to be noted that even in my fit of insanity, what I suggested was for Muslims to quit electoral politics and not politics per se. I proposed a cooling-off period wherein we would regroup and re-consolidate – a definite political act in itself. Thankfully, sanity prevailed, and after much deliberation over the past one year, I realised that this is a fight for reclaiming citizenship rights, and it was foolish on my part to be talking about giving up on one.

The way this message in the name of Ravish has gone viral shows us just how many people today buy this idea. A closer analysis of the people circulating it reveals something which is even far more disturbing. It’s less out of frustration with a fascist upsurge and more a product of an elitist approach of viewing society as an irritant. It stems from the urban affluent middle class’ inconvenience at being asked tough questions, in seeing a colleague, friend, or family member talk about rights.

God forbid a willful surrender on one front may cause a shrinking of ground on our other rights as well. What if, tomorrow, after you have surrendered your electoral ambitions, they, in their effort to remain relevant, shift their focus on your right to seek employment in government offices, services and admissions in government institutions, follow it up with a campaign to restrict you to grade four jobs, barricade your colonies, run down your educational institution and arrest your intellectuals? What would you say then? You may opt out. But do you think they too will?

My basic premise is that the Sangh’s agenda is driven by the Sangh alone. We, as Muslims, have absolutely no role to play.

For my friends who are apologetic in public places about their religious identity, and consistently insist on maintaining a safe distance from politics (lest it augments the Sangh’s polarisation agenda), here is another googly. The UP government has issued a circular prohibiting loudspeakers at religious places.

The practice of giving azaan from loudspeakers is decades old. Nothing suggests that there has been any significant increase in the sound levels in the near past. Still, the government finds it reasonable enough to extend its prohibition net on yet another Muslim practice.

Do you think the Muazzins are responsible for this? Do you believe that it was the poor Muazzin’s fault that he couldn’t understand the Sangh’s agenda as well as you do? Do you believe that a Muazzin should have calibrated his voice – or better, should have refrained from giving azaan altogether?

Well, for that matter, my learned friends, suggest me a measure except one which calls me to maintain a safe distance – and I will accept it with all humility. But for the community’s sake, first get the picture straight. Recover yourself from the confused state you are comfortable in.

The Sangh doesn’t need a Muazzin to raise their pitch, nor does it need an Asaduddin Owaisi. The Sangh, like the Frankensteinian monster, is self-sufficient. It has repeatedly proven its capabilities at fomenting hate from an issues such as triple talaq and love jihad. It has also successfully established that it’s not at the mercy of the present generation Muslim. It can very well dig graves from Mughal era and use the skeletons as a scarecrow for many many years.

Stop pretending that you are significant. Stop putting weight behind your useless “maintaining safe distance” strategies. Instead, put your weight behind the Constitution of this country. There alone, your emancipation is locked.

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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)’.

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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.

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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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