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BJP And RSS Have Lost The Battle Of Perception In Kerala For The Second Time

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After the initial hype about the Sabarimala verdict, the protests at Sabarimala, and the scuffle that ensued between the police and the protesters, the five-day darshan period passed off without any incidents of large-scale violence. Some women did go with the hope of praying to Ayyappa, but they decided not to escalate the situation. The entire episode did reveal some interesting facts.

Pilgrims visit Sabarimala wearing a black shirt or black towel and a black dhoti, locally known as mundu. They wear black because it used to camouflage people from wild animals when they used to travel through forests in olden times. Also, it insulates the body from cold. The need became the traditional attire with time. Though saffron coloured dhoti, locally known as kaavi mundu, is allowed, no Sabarimala pilgrim ever wears it. None of the devotees wearing black dhoti was seen protesting against the entry of women. Those protesting were all wearing the saffron-coloured dhoti. Clearly, they weren’t devotees who came to pray to Ayyappa. They were in Sabarimala to organise the protest. If they were not pilgrims, what business did they have in Sabarimala? If pilgrims were not protesting against the entry of women, then what right and reason did the protesters have to oppose?

It was very evident that the BJP organised the protests and RSS, who had initially applauded the Supreme Court verdict but later realised that they wouldn’t get any political mileage out of it once Kerala government decided to obey the order without filing a review petition. That was the first time they found themselves flat-footed on the issue. Then the protests were organised with the hope that Kerala government would forcefully try to vacate protesters from Sabarimala premises and BJP and RSS could use that as the opportunity to unleash violence across the state and country, the way they did with the Ayodhya temple issue. This is where the Kerala government outwitted and outsmarted them. The police and authorities did nothing to resist the protesters. They escorted women pilgrims to the shrine until thee point where protesters blocked their way. Then police officers advised them about their safety and persuaded them to return.

Kerala government will file a report with the Supreme Court informing it about how and why the government was not able to implement the Court’s order. They have deftly left the decision to the Court and the people. Thus, have thwarted all attempts to create communal disharmony for now. The temple opens every month for five days, so the threat has not passed. I believe the government will seek SC’s recommendations for implementing the order in the coming months. The latest news is that the government has tracked down and arrested 1400 protesters and cases have registered against them. This has further strengthened their standing in the judiciary.

This is the second time BJP and RSS have failed to manage perceptions in Kerala. First, Kerala unanimously rejected their beef ban propaganda. Now, they have got absolutely nothing from the Sabarimala facade. Their strategy to polarise Hindu votes in India will never succeed as long as Kerala stands as a beacon of communal harmony. This is why they are using every possible strategy to get their footprints across Kerala and destroy states’ societal structure. The frequency with which BJP top leadership have been travelling to Kerala is the best indicator of their attempts to make inroads in the state. But, Kerala has always been way too mature and evolved to fall into their ignominious traps.

Earlier, a picture of a sea of people that had gathered to see movie star Sunny Leone in Kochi was circulating on social media. BJP’s IT cell tried to shamefully show off the photo as the crowd gathered during Amit Shah’s rally in Kerala. This goes on to show how low they can stoop to have their way. It was immediately called out on social media, and they got trolled mercilessly.

Meanwhile, Union minister Smriti Irani has made bizarre remarks on the issue, reflecting her ignorance. Hindu women, especially in Kerala, do not visit any temples during their menstruation cycles. This is a practice that has been in vogue for thousands of years. Whatever she has said has absolutely no relevance to the situation so it can be safely ignored.

All Hindu scriptures and texts have stressed the importance of our karma over everything else. None of those texts has advised people to choose God and divinity over karma. None of the Hindus who know this will go to protest in Sabarimala. The irony is, the ones who don’t know anything about Hinduism are the ones who are trying to be the protectors of Hinduism and Hindu Gods.

Someone tried to abuse me on Twitter, stating that blind communists, like me, are the curse of Kerala. I support no political parties, only good governance. I have no hesitation in calling a spade a spade. In the same vein, regardless of all affiliations, I stand with anyone who will safeguard the communal harmony of Kerala and India.

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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.

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.

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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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