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Trump’s Family Separation Policy Reveals A Horrifying Scenario At The US Borders

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I have been watching the movie “No escape” (2015) starring Owen Wilson and Lake Bell. The film features a family of four in the middle of a violent riot in an Asian country. Men with knifes and guns hunt down and kill people. They go from room to room, killing men, women and children. In desperation, Jack (Owen Wilson) does everything – from throwing his children from one side of the building to the other to jumping from impossible heights. His wife Annie (Lake Bell) almost got raped at knife by the gang leader, though she exacts her revenge by killing him later on. Finally, they escape by crossing over to Vietnam where they seek asylum. They are given a room to stay – and the family has a bittersweet moment at the end.

I just re-imagined this scenario at the US-Mexico border, where there are Hispanic people trying to escape from a dangerous predicament. They would seek asylum in the US – the ‘land of the immigrants’ or the ‘free world’ or ‘greatest country in the world’. But then, the authorities are likely to put their children inside a cage and take them away. Jack and Annie will be forced to go back to the country they came from without their children – and they will never see each other again.

I may be exaggerating here but this is what I can sense after seeing the way in which minors are being treated at the border. Boys and girls below four years are apparently being taken from their parents and kept in cages.

This is the horrifying scenario in the aftermath of a policy introduced in May 2018 by the Trump administration. Surprisingly, Trump has vehemently tried to deny this in his desperation to wash his hands after all the criticism he received. “We’re going to have strong — very strong — borders, but we are going to keep the families together,” Mr. Trump said, as he signed the order in the Oval Office. “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”

Ivanka Trump, an advisor and child’s advocate, broke silence only after the policy was reversed.

I don’t want to talk about politics in a ‘free world’. Instead, I would like to express that I am glad that the administration decided to end the cruel policy. However, it does raise the question – why introduce the law in the first place? It is visibly cruel, tyrannical and inhumane – and matches everything that was written in history books and begged not to be repeated. Trump’s comparison of immigrants with animals simply echoes what Hitler expressed about Jews. Until last month, this policy didn’t come into effect – and as per a report, the entry of illegal immigrants was less than what the US had seen a decade ago.

It breaks one’s heart to see children being taken from their parents. According to an article in the New Yorker, “Trump didn’t reverse the policy of ‘zero tolerance’ that his Administration introduced in May, which obliges immigration agents to arrest and detain anybody who crosses the border outside an official entry point. The Times reported that the new executive order was designed ‘to get around an existing 1997 consent decree, known as the Flores settlement, that prohibits the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention—even if they are with their parents—for more than 20 days.’ If Trump gets his way, families stopped at the border will now be detained indefinitely under the custody of ice. That is precisely the outcome that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit deemed illegal in a 2016 ruling about the Flores settlement.”

Anchor Rachel Maddow broke down in tears on air – and obviously, ultra-nationalists took time and liberty to take a dig at her. Over 2,300 children were taken from their parents, and despite the policy reversal, the parents might not see the children for months. “There will not be a grandfathering of existing cases,” Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesperson for the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, told the New York Times.

Personally, I am not surprised to see this from the guy who claimed to make America great again while also generalising about Mexican immigrants. The gentleman claimed that there were “good people” in the Charlottesville white-supremacist march, and even expressed tolerance through “thoughts and prayers” when a white man shot and killed 17 kids at Parkland. This is, in effect, racial profiling – where leniency is shown to the privileged race.

Ever since he took the office, the administration passed Executive Order 13769 which led to outrage. Trump also went on to to sign a global gag rule in a room full of men. The US also withdrew from the Paris Agreement while being one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases. This year, it also withdrew from the UN’s Human Rights Council. These decisions are ironical but not surprising from a country that tried to execute the family separation policy.

This action by the authorities is nothing short of inhumane and it reeks of fascism. The idea of living an American dream has become a nightmare in the eyes of humanity. Frankly speaking, I didn’t expect this from a nation that fought against Nazis in World War II. Yet, I am not surprised at the attitude of this man who just wants to ‘drain the swamp‘.

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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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