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Recent Killings In Kashmir Have Turned Each Evening Into An Occasion For Mourning

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Kashmir valley has been boiling. We have had nothing but winds carrying the news of sorrow and lost hopes. Nothing seems to deter the iron bullets from tearing apart bodies.

The weather too seems to have given up hope in response to the bloodshed. We witnessed the harshest of winters and it is cold even now in summer (by Indian standards).

The news we received had us beyond despair, anguish and mental torment – The killing of a Kashmir University professor who had turned militant, a tourist stoned to death and a boy mowed down by an army vehicle.

The internet was banned in various places, including Srinagar. I had expected protests and anger from the so-called an ‘anti-national’ circles in support of human rights. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Perhaps it was too big a risk to take in the wake of the upcoming Karnataka polls.

However, what I saw on the internet were people posting propaganda and celebrating the army mowing down a young boy as an act of bravery. Perhaps the second act of bravery, according to these people, after Major Gogoi’s ‘adventurous’ act last year.

I felt speechless on seeing this. I wanted to pen down my frustrations but the fear of being branded an ‘anti-national’ kept me from it.

Later, I realised that if the people who found the unnecessary loss of human life an occasion for trolling didn’t have an iota of fear, why should a mourner be afraid? This is why I felt like exercising the Socratic principle of speaking truth to power.

One question that is always on my mind is for how long will this bloodshed go on? I don’t know if the people in government understand this question. Every time I ask this, I am answered with, “Pakistan!” “60 years!” “Nehru!” “Muslims are terrorists!” and so on.

Come on, I participate in elections and under your government’s tenure more civilians are dying, more J&K policemen are dying, more soldiers are being martyred and more young people are turning towards militancy, only to be killed at the hands of the Indian security forces. At the end of the day, it is Indians who are dying.

Then people on television glorify such brutality. On being questioned, they will label you ‘anti-national’. The three recent killings show how Kashmir is boiling.

The professor who turned militant and was killed just a day after he chose this dangerous path was a decent scholar in sociology at Kashmir University. According to a Facebook friend, he had wished to research on the dangers of using violence for resistance and on the glorification of stone pelting. Now we don’t know what drove him to choose the path of militancy – it surely meant death but he knew it. So three things: people are not afraid to die; alienation has increased tremendously and the state has shown no interest in dealing with it; the young generation cannot take any more of this grief, they are unable to survive this pain.

For the boy who was killed, at least an apology by the driver would have worked. Unfortunately, hoping for that would only be a distant dream and people instead celebrated the death.

The stone pelting of the tourist bus came as a shock to all of us. The cold-blooded murder of the 22-year-old was heart-wrenching. But again, I want to ask a question to the nationalist forces ruling this country. Didn’t the government, of which you are a coalition partner, provide amnesty to the stone pelters?

This policy of carrot and stick will only work if you have any designs for a long-term resolution but that definitely isn’t the case with this short-sighted government.

In Indian households, after someone’s death, people in the family talk about how they felt the presence of the deceased here or there. Sometimes, it turns into the story of a haunting. But with so many deaths caused due to cruelty, I don’t know how India will handle such a haunting.

The way people are turning to militancy and the rate at which they are being killed is dooming an entire generation of Kashmiris. I don’t think Modiji has any plans to take care of Kashmir’s cries and grievances.

Each evening in Kashmir is an evening of mourning. However, unlike the right-wing trolls, my sanskars have taught me to join hands and mourn a dead body and pray for their soul to rest in peace.

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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.

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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, 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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