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Various Groups From Hyderabad Come Out In Support Of Actor Tanushree Dutta

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A statement has been made by various individuals and groups from Hyderabad in support of actor Tanushree Dutta and her brave fight against sexual harassment in the Hindi film industry. The recent statements and interviews given by Tanushree Dutta where she has recounted the harassment and intimidation she faced during a film shooting back in 2008, have once again brought into focus, the pervasiveness of a culture in Indian film industries that allows men to objectify women, harass them, intimidate them and exploit them with great impunity. Moreover, it is the harassers who use the law to further intimidate the victim.

We keep hearing about the continued verbal threats and legal notices that the actress is receiving. Dutta’s experience also shows that even educated, upper-middle-class women who come with some amount of social and cultural capital are not immune to a routinely degrading treatment which is accepted as “normal” in the industry.

In this particular case, when she complained about her co-star, Nana Patekar’s unacceptable behaviour, not only was her complaint ignored, but she was instead pressurised to continue performing with him by the dance choreographer, the director and the producer. And when she refused to do so, instead of changing the dance steps or trying to persuade her co-star to behave in a more dignified manner, his political supporters were brought in to tame her and punish her. We watched with horror the shocking videos of the attack on her car that are being re-circulated in the media. The videos clearly show a mob of angry men yelling at her, breaking her car’s windshield and wipers, jumping up and down on the roof with the police only pleading with them to stop. If this is the response to a complaint of harassment, is it any surprise that most women choose to keep quiet, endure and suffer the treatment or forego many opportunities or even quit the industry?

Therefore, we think that it took extraordinary courage and moral stamina for Tanushree to complain to the CINTAA (Cine and TV Artistes Association) and the police back in 2008, although nothing came out of it, and to once again bravely recount her experiences today after ten years! We must express our complete support and solidarity with Tanushree. It is high time we collectively think of ways to ensure that all women are guaranteed dignity, safety and security at their workplace.

Over the last one year or so, different events have created a space for women to speak out about their experiences and demand justice. The formation of the Women in Cinema Collective in Kerala where many top actresses and female technicians from the Malayalam film industry raised their voice against sexism and misogyny is one such example. They submitted a memorandum to the CM of Kerala too. The other is the protest by actress Sri Reddy against the harassment and exploitation of women in the Telugu industry which inspired a number of women, mostly character and dialogue artists, to speak out. Their anger and anguish at the blatant culture of demands for sexual favours, discrimination on the basis of skin colour, economic exploitation by the brokers and agents who fetch them roles in films, all these led to a sustained agitation with the support of several women rights activists and trans-activists. Memorandums with several demands were placed before the Cinematography Minister of Telangana, the State Women’s Commission and the Film Development Corporation. Even a PIL was recently filed in Hyderabad High Court to demand a high-level committee to investigate the matters of sexual harassment and exploitation of women and transgender people in the Telugu film industry.

The time for recognising and addressing the problem of sexual harassment of women cannot be put off any longer. It is heartening to see the slow but steadily growing support for Tanushree from her colleagues in the industry. We also appreciate the fact that CINTAA has expressed support for the actress and acknowledged its failure to address her complaints in 2008. But they should not use their rules to say that a ten-year-old complaint cannot be taken up now. The time for justice is always NOW! The #MeToo movement in Hollywood led to action being taken for the wrongs committed more than a decade ago by men like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. Admittedly, that’s something our film industries can emulate. Support from the film fraternity will not only give hope to Tanushree and vindicate her courageous stand but will also give hope and strength to many other women to finally voice their complaints. Therefore,

 – We demand that CINTAA should amend their rules and immediately take up this issue.

 – We condemn the fact that both Nana Patekar and Vivek Agnihotri, have issued legal notices to Tanushree Dutta to harass her further and intimidate her.

 – We demand that both Patekar and Agnihotri submit themselves to the grievance redressal mechanisms within the industry, namely CINTAA

Here is the list of people from different organisations who have expressed solidarity with Tanushree Dutta:

K. Lalita, Anveshi RCWS

Rama Melkote, Retd Professor, Osmania University & Anveshi RCWS

Susie Tharu, Anveshi RCWS & Retd Prof of Literature and Film Critic

Veena Shatrugna, Anveshi RCWS and Retd. Assistant Director, NIN

Sri Reddy, Telugu Film Actor

Apoorva, Telugu Film Actor

Sherin B.S., EFL University

Uma Bhrugubanda, EFL University

A.Suneetha, Anveshi RCWS

K. Sajaya, Activist and Columnist

Vasudha Nagaraj, Lawyer

Chaitanya Pingali, Lyricist

S. Seethalakshmi, Independent Researcher and Consultant

Asma Rasheed, EFL University

S. Ashalatha, Women’s Rights activist

Girija, B, State Project Co-ordinator, One Stop Centre Scheme, TISS and Women Dev and Child Welfare Dept, Govt of Telangana

Vimala Morthala, Activist and writer

Sister Lissy, National Workers Movement

Nikhat Fatima, Civil Rights Activist, Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee

Khalida Parveen, Amoomat Society

Sudha Murali, Child Rights Activist

Rachana Mudraboina, Telangana Hijra Instersex Transgender Samithi

M. Mandakini, Lawyer

Anjali Khemani, Disability Consultant

Jayasree Subramanian, Academic

Kaneez Fathima, Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee

Gita Ramaswamy, Hyderabad Book Trust

Malini Subramaniam, Independent Journalist

Tejaswini Madabhushi, Hyderabad for Feminism

Shalini Mahadev, Hyderabad for Feminism

Gitanjali Joshua, Hyderabad for Feminism

Shraddha Chickerur, PhD Candidate, University of Hyderabad and Hyderabad for Feminism

Tashi Choedup, Genderqueer Buddhist Monastic, Human Rights Activist, Interfaith Activist.

Lakshmi Kutty, Health Researcher

V. Sandhya, Progressive Organisation of Women

Sarah Mathews, Sankalp Women’s Support Alliance

Vyjayanti Vasanta Mogli, RTI & PIL Transgender Activist

Monalisa KMV, Secretary, Telangana Transgender People’s Association and Member, Mobbera Foundation.

Aisha Farooqui, Retd. OU Professor & Anveshi

Madhumeeta Sinha, EFL University

Akhileswari Ramagoud, Retd. Professor

Anjali Rawat, Lawyer

Satyavati Kondaveeti, Bhumika Women’s Collective

C. Vanaja, Independent Journalist Filmmaker

Nazia Akhtar, Independent Researcher

Ambika, Social Activist

Indira, Amanvedika

Haritha Busarapu, Yugantar

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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.

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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.

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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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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