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Two Men Tried To Assault Me In The Middle Of The Road, Luck Saved Me That Day

Through the #MeToo movement, the stories of women being sexually harassed and abused have gone viral on social media. The next step is to change the mindset of people through collective counselling. While it can be debated whether or not social media can bring that change, we can’t afford to sit idle. Something should be done because these crimes shouldn’t happen at first place.

Over 100 years of struggle with minimal resources at hand, got us independence. What stops now to bring a change when we have access to a plethora of technology? I propose a simplistic model of revolution- Self-help!

We have allowed society to define us (women). Even if mould ourselves according to them, it doesn’t take too long for a ‘goddess’ to turn into a victim. Soon after the crime, there are discussions on news channels. There are demands to bring strict laws and strengthen the criminal justice system. Ultimately, the outrage fades away leaving only pity and sympathies for the victim.

Adjusting to the situation is an easier option. But, it takes guts to volunteer and fight for the change. Fighting to change the situation that makes us vulnerable may leave some scars on us. But those scars would be of a fighter. I chose to fight when I encountered a horrifying situation.

My Story

I can never forget that pale winter evening when I arrived at the bus stand in Kurukshetra after travelling for five good hours from home. Kurukshetra is known for Mahabharata, an epic battle fought to bring justice to a woman.
I was appropriately dressed as per the society standards. I wore a knee-long upper and a pair of denim (not fitted). I was an 18-year-old girl who knew to be highly alert when travelling. But, still, I wasn’t mature enough to read intentions. I took an auto-rickshaw to reach my hostel which is very close to the bus stand. But since it was dark, I instead took a longer route hoping for few streets lights and people on the road. On my way to the college, two men, who sat parallel to me during my journey from home, started to follow me on their bike. It went unnoticed until they overtook the auto-rickshaw, pulled off the rickshaw driver and slapped him for not stopping at their command. I was horrified, more so when they approached me and snatched my phone as I tried to call. This moment reminded me of a childhood story where we were told that a monster would come to kidnap us if we don’t sleep. The only difference here was that I had to be up and face these monsters.

I had to do something to escape this situation, and along with courage, I needed some luck on my side. Within seconds I decided to run, hoping the traffic to either stop or crush me. I pushed that man with all my strength, jumped out of the auto-rickshaw and ran blindly to the other side. And as they say, god helps those who help themselves. I did receive help. Within a minute the traffic stopped, and people turned up to understand what’s happening. The police also came as they were on their routine patrolling. Those men didn’t give up initially and tried to convince the police. And while I was charging on the police officers for the lack of security and asked to arrest those men, those men managed to escape.

Failing to nab those men, the police offered to drop me to my destination. But I took the rickshaw, trusting on the driver who tried to save me in some way. And, I safely reached my guardian’s place.

Time To Take Action

A question always irks me, is there any justice that can heal our conscious? I find it funny when people say time is the best medicine. As time can only heal our choices and not the situations imposed on us. There is no standard mechanism to deal with such situations. We need a proactive approach for that. Those few seconds when I decided to fight the situation made a survivor.

If you aren’t trained to box a man, the mind is the best weapon you always have. Since it is the mind, where all the battles are won. I did that to change things in my favour. It happened to me and can happen to me. We shouldn’t hope for safety and luck, but should be ready to help ourselves and beat the situation.

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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.

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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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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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