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Dust To Dust…

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It is the heart that pushes the ink so I must
Otherwise what’s to write, she just went from dust to dust…

It was her death that brought her the refuge, her life only ravaged
It was her motionless silence that ended the pain, her wails only salvaged
It was her faith that she was predated, crucified, sacrificed for unspeakably
It was her blood that stains the mountains that are sunk in shame immutably

It was beyond and yet so intrinsically basic to the age of post empathy
It wasn’t just hers or his; it was the cause of each and everyone’s apathy
It can be diluted to an act of transgressing intent or unstinted fate
It can never be excused as manifest patriarchy or communal hate

It is a not just a tragedy of beautiful innocence being butchered to smithereens
It must rouse from subterranean to the cosmos, a conflagration for the calmer greens
When the security of animals strangles the modesty of an 8-year-old child
The house succumbs and dilapidates to its own rotting and crumbling pride

It was her sacrifice at the altar of satanic hate and diabolic lust
Otherwise what’s to write, she just went from dust to dust

It was her vivified existence that the fiends thought they could outrage
It was her dormant death that demon seeds thought they could disparage
It was all human, the rise of infernal desires and sordid designs that were spun
It was not just one in many, lest we fail again, it was the ubiquity in just one

It wasn’t just a horror tale that cannot let the awoken sleep at night
It is the deathly lullaby that harbours darkness inside the light
It is not a time of tears, voices and candles for the show beckoning
It is either just another victim for the conscience or the moment of reckoning

It is a girl today or a woman tomorrow that falls to a man’s muscles
It is an impervious shield that gets thicker for the one who hustles
When justice turns blind and malice roams the spaces with undaunted trail
When the weakest of virtue rejoice the nectar of power in the Holy Grail

It was her muted ordeal that rips my core through the crust
Otherwise what’s to write, she just went from dust to dust

It is not a plane to disentomb the divided roots and thunderous faultlines
It is an intersection to secure the right to dignity every living pulse enjoins
As all my human fractions seek the guilty blood within a friable cage
I burn with an emptiness of inevitable incompleteness that festers with rage

The sentient flood of revulsion mustn’t be limited to Twitter feeds and online trends
While the devious and lumpen try to recreate the horror again and again
It is not a headline, not a tag not a share not a post on your Facebook wall
It is the opportunity to break walls and join courage for a just and deafening call
It is not time to launch slogan for slogan or throw punches or pen an ordeal outward

It is a cause to engender a cataclysm of Reformation not of the world but inward
It is for the conscience to meet the blood and stir a storm of Inquisition
It is for the Asifa in you to rise to the surface and disinter the dereliction

It is her story that never knew the end that I must
Otherwise what’s to write, she just went from dust to dust

Burn the defilers at the stake of unachievable redemption for bleeding justice
Her nightmare still needs the closure of guillotine and not just hope for hospice
Look in the billions of open eyes and assure the sanctity of honour, smiles and play
As we holler for justice for the closed pair that is secured beneath six feet of clay

Tears run dry, remorse is empty, my compassion is frazzled and my instincts tire
As sands of time always conspire to obfuscate the memory of her mire
As the land gets costlier, the water darker, the avarice hungrier and the crown higher
The tongue has to get sharper, the pen mightier, the fire brighter and the voices louder

Life hopes between the body and the shadow, between the corpse and the grain
Hope lives between the fall and the fallen, between the wound and the pain
Breath survives between the birth and the burial, between the tried and the trial
Survival breathes between the beginning and the end, between the poison and the vial

It wasn’t a single story of a single daughter; it is an iron curtain that refuses rust
Otherwise there’s nothing to write, she just went from dust to dust

I do not claim oblivion, blameless escape to the haven of distance and ineloquent disgust
I write, I scream, I beg, I mourn, I pray for her final rest as she went from dust to dust…

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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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