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When Our ‘Fun’ Becomes A Street Animal’s Worst Nightmare

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Have we honestly come to a point where we enjoy ourselves shamelessly at the price of another’s torture? Especially during festivals.

I know people might lash out at this statement and tell me it’s their religious sentiments I am impinging on. I am not hurting anyone’s feelings, or saying that celebrating festivals is wrong. All I am saying is if our celebration causes stress, anxiety, and even death in some cases, then it is unacceptable. Here, I am not talking about our fellow humans, but the furry four-legged angels whom we conveniently forget during these times. Do you even realise the sheer torture animals go through when we light up that rassi bomb next to them, or, as a prank, kids tie crackers to their tails just to see their reaction? What have we, the human race, become when we cannot even understand the suffering we put these animals through during festival time? Have you noticed how dogs walk around with their tails between their legs? Yes, it’s because they are shit scared.

Let me break it down for someone who feels I am blowing things out of proportion. There are reasons why these animals experience these heightened levels of anguish. Try to read it from a ‘humane’ perspective.

Animals Are Extremely Sensitive To Noise And Light

Animals can hear noises that the human ear cannot. The sheer loud burst of noise without notice brings about a substantial level of discomfort to their ears, to the point that it’s unbearable to them. Bursting crackers right in their vision can cause temporary or permanent blindness.

Animals Perceive Fireworks As Danger

Since these pre-planned human celebrations are unannounced for animals, the sudden noise and light pose a danger to their otherwise peaceful everyday lives. They feel threatened, and often act out of fear by running onto roads which could result in accidents and fatal injuries.

Animals Feel Trapped

Since we take our celebrations everywhere, without sparing a spot, the animals have nowhere to hide from the fireworks bursting in every direction. They are stuck in their place and have to go through the ordeal for hours, alone, scared, anxious, and fearful.

The Streets Are Their Home, Not Ours

We are fortunate to have a roof over our heads for a peaceful night’s sleep, but strays have to make the streets their home. When our celebrations get out of hand, we destroy their homes, and we harm their families—pups, kittens, and all baby animals run away, get lost, and are even killed. How do you think a toddler would react if they were to be put next to loud fireworks and celebrations? That same logic applies to these animals who haven’t the slightest hint of what’s going on, nor anyone to care for them.

I know celebrating festivals is a big part of our culture, but we can also do that with dance and music. When did fireworks become a compulsion? Just because we may not have pets, will we turn a blind eye to the unwarranted torture we put animals through? Being a proud cat owner myself, I know how my cats jump and run under the bed hearing even a single firecracker being burst downstairs. Can you imagine the effect the jarring sound and light has on un-housed street animals? They will be traumatised for weeks, or even months. We are supposed to be the most intelligent species on the planet, and yet we are the ones inflicting the most pain on others. How do we expect animals to understand when we claim to be the smartest of them all? Why can’t we be more empathetic and keep our celebrations harmless? I urge you to keep the fireworks at minimum or at least not burst them next to an animal’s home.

What Can You Do?

Please stop people from performing cruel pranks on these animals and report them immediately.

Please shut your windows and curtain at home to reduce your pet’s stress as much as possible.

Please provide adequate food to strays during the festival time because they usually starve themselves due to anxiety.

Please attend to injured animals and take them to the nearest animal shelter, they need all the help you can give.

Please do your bit to save our strays and pets. Just because they are strays or non-human animals doesn’t mean we trample all over them. They deserve a peaceful and safe life, as we all do.

It’s a small price to pay to show that we have still have humanity left, and do our bit as individuals to love and support these selflessly loving creatures!

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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.

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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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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.

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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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