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Fellow Indians, Stop Stereotyping People From Uttar Pradesh As Rapists

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Does it really matter that I am from Uttar Pradesh and speak in Kannauji when I talk to my family, even in front of my friends or colleagues?

And I don’t really care what the rest of India thinks about me, because its the same as a Tamilian speaking in Tamil or a person from Telangana or Andhra Pradesh speaking in Telugu or a Keralite speaking in Malayalam. I feel it’s more of a mental block and that most Indians look down upon people who speak Kannauji.

I’ve have heard people stereotype men from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as rapists. I hope you are not going to imply that men from U.P. and Bihar have migrated to all states in India for just this purpose.

All men are not rapists (but some are). A cruel and violent mentality is not specific to men from certain regions. Now, since there are fewer men from U.P., Bihar in the South-Indian states, it doesn’t mean that rapes do not happen there. We need to educate our boys to respect women but generalising and stereotyping men based on caste, creed, race, religion and region is not only unfair, but inhuman too.

Irrespective of where someone comes from, no one is taught to be a rapist. The distinction between people from Bihar and U.P. is blurred to a great extent. We are collectively labelled as outsiders taking up jobs in other states. People call us ‘UP, Bihar ke log’ in a negative light. As far as my experience is concerned, it’s been overwhelmingly positive. I have found most people to be very accepting and open-minded.

Honestly, it is all about perception. How on this earth could a language be associated with illiteracy or vulgarity? People nowadays even look down upon the Hindi-speaking population. Language is just a medium to communicate and linking it with biases is baseless. So, next time someone makes a comment on thestate you are from or the language you speak, just ignore them as they are not worthy of your attention. Remember – people are always judged by their actions, and not by where they come from or the language they speak. Try to avoid the company of people who resort to these biases as this only spread negativity.

As George R.R Martin once said, “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”

What is the worst and the best thing about Uttar Pradesh?

For one, U.P. is not as bad as it is perceived to be. With the advancement of agriculture and service sector which comprises of Travel and Tourism, Hotel Industry, Real Estate etc., Uttar Pradesh is growing. When it comes to food, U.P. is extremely blessed. The Awadhi and Mughlai cuisine of Uttar Pradesh bears an influence of the Mughal rule. A blend of various cultural strains nurtured by centuries of Mughal and later Delhi Sultanate rule and the folk traditions produce a rich and complex mosaic of Indian culture.

In the last few decades, the state’s condition has been quite deplorable, and no government has been able to improve it. Akhilesh Yadav has done a lot of good work for people. Keeping in view the fast-growing city of Lucknow, the state govt. has commenced the work on Metro Rail Project in a big way. With a view to redressing problems, faced by the Non-Resident Indians, they constituted UP NRI Department in July 2014, which is benefiting from the knowledge, skills and global experiences of the NRIs and bringing NRIs closer to their roots.

Moreover, the women power line telephone service 1090 was started on November 15, 2012, to prevent crimes against women. Apart from these, Skill Development Mission, Kisan Pension Yojna, Four Lane link to district headquarters, Lohia Gramin Avas Yojna, 108 Samajwadi Ambulance Service etc. are some successful schemes which are being talked about all over the country. The State Govt. has also come up with schemes in a transparent manner which will benefit minority communities, women, children, youth and farmers.

So, next time before stereotyping anyone – Apne Girebaan Mein Jhankna.

Aur Bhaiya, Hum Hum hain, Baki Sab Pani Kam hain !

Shukriyaan.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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 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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