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Why Are Religious Institutions Given A Free Pass For Noise Pollution?

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I remember the incident when people were outraged and were making expert comments on a silly tweet made by celebrity singer Sonu Nigam over a mosque using loudspeakers.

With the Ganesh festival approaching, people have started putting up tents in every corner of the street, where they will be blasting heavy music till 3 am. Surprisingly, the police don’t even interfere in this activity. These same cops take issue with any young person listening to loud music beyond 10 pm on other occasions.

For restricting loud sounds and speakers, Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000 has been enacted by the Government of India in the exercise of its powers conferred under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. In addition to this, the Supreme court orders restrict the use of speakers in the residential area after 10 pm. But the sad truth is that it’s rarely followed.

Now don’t start with the whataboutery argument, pointing fingers at other religions to defend Hindu religious activity, because it’s a fact that all religious institutions take everything for granted. Church, mosques or temples – all of them are equally guilty of this.

I was reminded of a past event where I got into an argument with a Circle Inspector at Rammurthynagar police station over allowing temple festivals and Ganesh Chathurthy processions to go on long past 3 am. The government doesn’t bother to regulate and enforce the law because these institutions are potential vote banks. Public functions that don’t follow the norms of noise pollution are the main contributors to noise pollution, followed by insensitive people honking on the road for no reason at all.

When I complained about religious procession in the residential area being carried on beyond permissible hours, no action was taken. I informed the DCP. Later, the Circle Inspector asked me why I was texting senior officers continuously. I explained to him about the use of loudspeakers in the name of festivals, for which he gave the justification that in North Karnataka, festivals go on till 5 am. I was shocked to see the protector of the law justifying its violation instead of enforcing it.

We just limit our outrage to social media. We need to start getting more assertive and stop tolerating such incidents in our society. Religious activities should be treated in the same way DJ events happen in the city. Shut them down if they are being conducted beyond the permissible time limit.

Yesterday I was stuck in a traffic jam for two hours because these religious processions were being carried out. So, I decided to close down one part of the road to set up tents for the procession. If someone dies due to being stuck in traffic, will the same god curse these bhakts?

If the nation can conduct debate for days on ridiculous statements made by some politicians, then it can surely conduct a debate on civil and social responsibility. It can definitely discuss filing a complaint about noise pollution.

It’s time that miscreants are not allowed to exploit the religious sentiments of people, no matter how absurd they are.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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