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Tanushree Dutta Is Courageous To Speak Up, The Least We Can Do Is Support Her

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Every time a woman speaks for herself, we discourage her by questioning her intentions on the basis of our century old and so-called cultural mindset but as someone said, ‘damaged people are dangerous’ and who could define it better than Tanushree Dutta. One can’t possibly think about winning a war against a woman who is out to protect her pride and dignity. There is nothing stronger than a woman who has seen it all and got nothing to lose.

In one of the interview, Tanushree stated, verbatim “Even thought of touching me could destroy them, as this time I have something else supporting me.” So heed my words, it’s her inner woman that has awaken and a woman with a clear and definite purpose can haul the miscreants. Tanushree’s allegations do not surprise me as over the years many people have spoken against the sexual harassment in the entertainment industry.

I get nostalgic when I think about Tanushree Dutta’s journey in Bollywood. It seems like yesterday when she appeared in movies like ‘Aashiq Banaya Apne’, ‘Chocolate’, ‘Dhol’, ‘Good Boy Bad Boy’, among many others. I can never forget the day I went to a theatre just to watch her song Hitchki. She was one of the most celebrated stars back in those days. Tanushree was a charmer who had a positive smile on her face; so young, fresh and of course dauntless. She was out of the league, unconventional and was considered to be too bold for people around her. She would have easily gotten herself into big film camps or productions, but she chose to leave this negative environment of the industry while I kept on wondering why did she ever have to go! She left the stardom and glamour when she was the peak of her career. The male ego dominates the Bollywood industry. Such egoists did not want her to shine because she refused to rub them for their pleasure. Also, such unscrupulous men hate when intellectual women are around.

If a woman is portraying a rape survivor in reel life, does that mean she is okay with getting raped in real life too? That’s what half of our pretentious educated Indians think. Have you ever heard of the right called consent? If not, be a decent human and check it before you judge a woman who is speaking her heart so is unable to forget even after ten years. Imagine, how traumatising it must be for her to even talk about it. Sexual harassment and misconduct leave a woman drained and at times even unresponsive for a lifetime. Be it Aruna Shanbaug, a nurse who was brutally raped, or Nirbhaya; there are countless instances of sexual crimes against women.

Just think that one day you wake up in the morning and you have no purpose in life! Somebody has seized all your dreams and goals in life, and you are not even left with your dignity. Your soul is helpless, your source of income and happiness got plucked for telling the truth, and nobody wants to know your side of the story. I remember all this incident vividly. It was 2008, and I was in my teens. I didn’t know much about realities in the society but could differentiate between good and bad. I wasn’t aware of the core meaning of ‘harassment’ at that time, but I felt uncomfortable watching all her interviews. She was re-telling the terrible incident to people, but no one had guts to stand with her and eventually turned a blind eye towards that incident. That was the day I realised that there is something wrong with our men in general.

There are increasing number of cases of crimes against women. But some people support the survivors, and some men support women endlessly. Our existence is futile if we cannot stand up for the people who go through such horrible experiences.

Grilling Tanushree on why she did not speak a decade ago when the incident happened doesn’t change the fact that she put her voice out, but everyone turned a blind eye to her stating ‘publicity’. She did it all – imploring for help to all the media houses and the associations, but due to lack of support and irresponsibility of some journalists and people around her, the incident never got the national attention. Besides, she was just 22 when the pretentious charitable Nana Patekar harassed her. At that time social media wave hadn’t hit India so strongly. Had this incident happened in current times, her story would have reached more ears easily.

Why it is so difficult for us to accept an audacious or a courageous woman? Many women are scared to death to communicate or recount the horrors of workplace harassment, as it might invite slut shaming, hearsay or worst – they might lose their job. The best part about this moment is that Tanushree is speaking, notwithstanding how many years or decades have gone by, she is, and this time, we must ensure that the courage of this woman doesn’t go unheard! Let’s encourage Tanushree Dutta to come forward and tell her story, and for that to happen, we all need to make the environment comfortable for them. Many such stories need to be told and heard.

 

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  1. Saurabh Jadhav

    Fantastic! Beautifully woven article. Makes me feel her pain.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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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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
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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