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To The ‘Woke’ Men Critiquing #MeToo: Now Is Not Your Time

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Now is not your time. Now is not your time to point fingers and go ‘ah – ha’ at a fake claim and ignore the hundreds of real ones. Now is not your time to break the momentum of the movement by questioning its validity, pointing out its inconsistencies and asking for control mechanisms and accountability.

The control mechanism of this movement is in the name itself – #MeToo – as in not only has this happened to me but often by the same man. The stories that have gained widespread traction are not an anonymous woman DM-ing from a fake account, they are several women from different walks of life, who often do not know each other. THIS is where the accountability lies.

Now is not your time to ask for ‘due process and proof’, now is not your time to tell us to be cautious, we have been cautious all our lives. Many women did try to follow ‘due process’ when assaulted and no one heard them, no one took action. And what proof, do you ask? Do the survivors have to show marks made 10 years ago? Assault tapes? Eye witnesses? How many women have to be believed to take down one man?

Every social structure has a different framework of understanding and analysis, a different method of data collection. The detailed stories, the corroborative accounts, the whisper networks – this is proof and evidence but unfortunately even sexual assault has to be validated through the male gaze. Now is not your time to question the nature of our evidence by your narrow definitions.

If people are listening now it is because of the very public backlash and community response that you fear. The different manifestations of patriarchy have met with different strategies by women through history. The 1st Wave established the demand for universal suffrage, the 2nd and 3rd established the demands for equal pay, reproductive rights, right to express one’s sexuality and a call to intersectionality and solidarity across different races, castes, class and ethnicities. The 4th wave of feminism is demanding the right to not be subjected to sexual overtures without consent. Thanks to social media, Name and Shame is a new tool, a new negotiation strategy and a new protective measure for women to survive. Now is not the time to dilute our demands.

Name and Shame is used to publicly shame those who have gotten away with it in private. Yes, there can be misuse of this strategy like with literally EVERYTHING else in the world, even cotton candy, but now is not your time to focus on the marginal misuse of the movement and ignore the systemic misogyny of society. Now is the not the time to question these courageous women and their stories. No one is doing this for personal glory or money or attention, the stakes are too high, the backlash of societal judgement, and personal safety too powerful and there are no rewards. Only a sense of healing and solidarity for the survivors.

The stories of the survivors are horrifying, their burden to carry on quietly is amazing.yThe movement is a catharsis and a catharsis is not clean.

Now is not your time time to tell us how far we’ve come, how much progress women have made and how change takes time. Do not tell me to tone down my anger, modulate my voice and to be patient. You be patient now. The onus cannot always be on women to prove they have been assaulted, it’s high time you prove that you have not. You had centuries to fix this, you did not, Now. Is Not. Your. Time.

Your critique does not help in anyway other than to detract from the movement and dismiss the new negotiation strategies and survival tactics of the 4th Wave of Feminism in India. I expect better from you, I expect better from men, else get out of the way and let women clean up this sickening mess.

Now is your time to listen, to support, to believe not just the survivors but other women telling you that we’ve got this. We got the loopholes, we got the bugs and we are fixing it every day. Look at Sandhya Menon curating posts that collaborate accusations against predators, look at Faye D’souza culling out fake #MeToo accounts on air every night, look at Trisha Shetty offering legal advice to assaulted women, look at the thousands of women re-living their trauma by sharing their explicit stories to highlight the pattern of behaviour a predator follows and give credibility to their voices. Now is not your time to question the legitimacy of our methods. You had your chance and you blew it, repeatedly, so don’t expect us to fix in a day what you have broken over the years. As Jesse Williams said in his #BlackLivesMatter speech – ‘So what’s gonna happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our country or we will restructure their function and ours.

So dear men, take a back seat, respectfully listen and let us fix this.

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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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