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Why Students Must Come Together To Resist And Fight Against Religious Fascism

“Kashmiri Jihadi Musalmano ko Pakistan bhagao, peedit Kashmiri Hinduo ko bachao,” these are the lines from the poster of a registered NGO by the name Swadesh Hindu Ekta Manch. In the poster, they have magnified the font size of few words like ‘Musalmano’ and ‘Pakistan’. Obviously, they know their enemies. Hate speeches are not new in the Indian society. The Modi-led BJP government, its parent organization RSS and various other Hindutva groups have been propagating such hatred from quite some time.

Yogi Adityanath, CM of Uttar Pradesh once remarked that he won’t stop till he turns the state and India into a Hindu Rashtra. Vinay Katiyar, senior BJP lawmaker commented that Muslims have no business being in India and they should go live in Pakistan or Bangladesh. Other ministers are capable of such toxic speeches as well. This is evident from the report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) claiming that out of 58 ministers booked for hate speech, 27 belong to BJP. Thus, such type of open threats to the Muslim community is not new and have always been used by the state to terrorise the minorities be it Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis, women and poor.

Although we now witness these in a more pervasive manner, like inciting posters on our university campuses. The irony here is that we see the same university having huge flex banners containing notices by the Delhi Police prohibiting any sort of posters, flex banners or writing on walls in the campus, making it a crime. If the state tolerates such a poster against the Muslims, it is evident that it is a state-sponsored act and it is our “secular” state which is working in the guise of these Hindutva groups so that the veil of Democracy and Secularism doesn’t get exposed.

Exploring the global political scenario, we can witness that in many European countries and in the U.S., ultra-right wing fascist groups have come in power. If we look back at the 2008 global crisis known as the Great Recession, the gap between the rich and the poor increased manifolds even affecting the middle class. In many European countries, the income inequality rose to two-thirds from before due to massive unemployment. Thus, in order to resolve such contradictions of the capitalist system, a fascist regime became a must.

The so-called Democrats were replaced by the conservatives’ parties all across Europe. The penetration of such ultra-right groups increased in developing countries as well, as was witnessed in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Such parties are recognizable by their anti-immigration policies and various forms of discrimination towards the minorities as is evident in India through instances of religious violence against Muslims. We frequently hear cases of mob lynching by Hindutva goons on the pretext of Cow vigilantism, beef consumption, love jihad and the most common ‘anti-national remark’ where the only ‘logical’ argument they have is “Our army is fighting for us at the borders” or “If you have any problem in India, go to Pakistan”. Thus, every sort of dissent is crushed by the state and seen as a seditious act.

Today being Muslim in India is harder than ever before. Recent cases of failed justice for crimes committed against them have terrorised the Muslim community and they can no longer trust the state institutions, including the Judiciary. The Kathua rape case is a recent example of it. In March, attacks on Muslims at the time of Ramnavami in Bihar and West Bengal had been reported. In April, the Gujarat Hight Court overturned the conviction of senior BJP member Maya Kodnani and co-accused Babu Bajrangi who were sentenced in the murder of 97 people in 2002 Gujarat riots. Also, the accused of Hyderabad’s Mecca Masjid blast case were let off.

Thus not only physical but a psychological war is being waged against the Indian Muslims as well as other minorities. With the general elections around the corner, the anti-Muslim violence is only going to intensify, positioning them as the nation’s enemy. In such a scenario, it’s only the radical unity among the most oppressed section of our society which can lead and show us to the path of resistance and struggle for radical social transformation. We as students must come together and join hands with democratic peoples’ movements and resist and fight against the rot of Hindutva fascism for radical social transformation.

Aditya Shekhar is a final year student at the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.

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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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