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13 Things Men Should Understand Before Ridiculing Women Who Speak Up About Harassment

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#MeToo first became popular in October 2017, when women on social media came out openly about their experiences of sexual harassment. This inspired a chain reaction and one a lot of women spoke about the horrid experiences they faced at the hands of sexual predators. Many celebrities were also named and shamed as a result of this movement. Recently in India, after actress Tanushree Dutta accused actor Nana Patekar of sexual harassment, the movement gained momentum in India. Tanushree’s case is ten years old, and a lot of people refuse to believe her. She is being accused of trying to revive her Bollywood career and gain popularity again. Also, Nana Patekar’s charitable work and great artistic portfolio are reasons why many refuse to believe the accusations against him.

Tanushree sparked the #MeToo movement again, and many more women have publicly called out their harassers. Celebrities like Tanmay Bhatt, Chetan Bhagat, Alok Nath and Aditi Mittal have also faced allegations of sexual harassment.

The media trails have started, and social media users are divided on the campaign. While many are siding with the victims, some are questioning the integrity of these allegations. A lot of them are also making a mockery of the situation. After reading a lot of these comments and posts, I tried to list down 13 observations on this ongoing movement. These observations might help the people to make better judgments about the campaign.

  1. A woman’s dignity is supposedly entrapped in her sexuality, and hence it has always been easy to ‘rob’ her of her ‘honour’.
  2. Yes, there have been false cases, where women have taken undue advantage of the law, and there is no way one can justify that. It is the collective duty of all women to understand that our struggle is a lot more meaningful and important. It shouldn’t be used to avenge oneself or ruin someone’ life and career.
  3. For ages, women have been victims of sexual crimes. Even national records on crimes against women are scary. In such a scenario, it is ridiculous to derail this movement based on a handful of false cases.
  4. The least we can do is stand in solidarity with womankind.
  5. While women are the major victims of sexual harassment, such cases are limited to one particular gender. Also, the recent episode of comedian Kaneez Surka accusing Aditi Mittal reveals that even women can abuse women. However, homosexuality jokes on this are just pathetic!
  6. No matter what her profession is, what her personal choices are, harassing a woman is not okay. We must understand and follow consent. So, Mr Chetan Bhagat, if a woman writes adult content or not, your harassment is not justified. Also, Sunny Leone and Mia Khalifa jokes in this scenario are downright disgusting. Similarly, no matter what is the profession of a man, how great his portfolio is, or how charitable he has been, he can still be a sexual predator.
  7. Casual sexism within our families, be it WhatsApp jokes, sexist remarks on the dining table or regular everyday sexism are not okay either. Raise a question even if it is coming from your father, brother, husband or other family members. These little battles are what need to be won before we aim for the greater revolution.
  8. “What about feminism when you have to lift heavy things or pay the bill?” Men are biologically blessed with greater physical strength. Physiology is not what the debate is about. Can we expect a man to give birth? No. Why? Because of Biology! Don’t open doors and don’t pay the bills. Ask your woman to split the bill or take turns, and she will be happy to be part of it. If not, you have the choice to choose what kind of woman you want to go out with and for how long. When it is about the women in your family, like your mother or wife, who have traditionally been managing the house, there is a clear division of labour and duties, and you are only playing your part. This defence is invalid. Therefore, calling us names and ridiculing the movement as “feminazi” is only making you look stupid.
  9. Not harassing a woman doesn’t make you a great man. It’s normal. Men are supposed to be that way.
  10. This debate is not about which gender is better and which is worse. It never was. Please don’t make it one.
  11. This is a chain reaction, one woman speaking up gives another strength, especially when the woman is a prominent figure, or the alleged harasser is a celebrity like Nana Patekar.
  12. It is not easy to speak up. There is a lot of social stigma that women have to break when they choose to call out their harassers. Some women speak up immediately, some take years, and some don’t speak up ever. That doesn’t reduce the trauma the victim has undergone. It doesn’t justify the harassment. Also, it doesn’t become a reason to question her integrity.
  13. Every action has consequences.

Peace and Love!

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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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