India And Its Nirbhayas

It will be like an ‘alarming’ situation for India if it doesn’t wake up and look up at the numbers and the position it is holding an index of the most dangerous nations. According to the reports released by the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the basis of the survey on women’s issues, recognizing India as the most dangerous place for sexual violence against women followed by other countries from Asia, Middle East and West.

Now if we start focussing on the present scenario in the nation, the condition does not seems to be much improved. From the past few years cases related to sexual crimes, domestic violence, human trafficking, and child abuse are inclining the ladder which is upsetting.

India the largest democracy in the world where women’s rights come forth than anything is the place where women are on constant vigilance. It comes as a shock to see the country among the nations’ list in which it holds the highest position in terms of a sexual predator.

During these 5 years period the country has seen tremendous changes in various sectors from politics to the economy, from agriculture to technology but what remains stagnant is an improvement in women security. India has been included in the list of countries with the lowest per capita rates of rapes. A large number of rapes go unreported. But after several rape incidents received widespread media attention and triggered public protests there is no denying why India is declared as Rape Capital of the world.

According to the NCRB 2015 statistics, Madhya Pradesh has seen the highest number of rape reports among Indian states.

Know where your city stands when it comes to the safety of women

India is no safer for women instead it’s been safer for accused. Now looking at the data collated by NCRB Madhya Pradesh stands at the top with the highest number of 4391 cases followed by Maharashtra with 4,144, Rajasthan with 3.644, Uttar Pradesh (3,025), Odisha (2,251) and Delhi with 2,199 cases.

Data shows 95% rape victims in India known to offenders. More than half of all female homicide victims were killed by relatives, intimate partner and other close ones.

The Most Dangerous Place

Wondering over what would be the most unsafe place for women to live? It’s none other place than your own ‘Home Sweet Home’.  According to the reports released by UN recently, homes have been the most dangerous place for women where majority numbers of female victims suffer domestic violence, sexual assaults and murders.

India witnessing 6 years anniversary of unfortunate Nirbhaya gang-rape case is still haunting the nation. Country grappling with the issue of sexual violence various laws and legislation have been passed in order to ensure the safety of women. But failing in executing the laws in a conventional manner is the area where the security is compromised.

Despite opting for stricter laws crimes against women are still not finding an end road. We as a nation living in the state of denial that most of the women don’t feel safe alone on the streets, work, in markets, homes.

2015-2018

In 2016 alone 106 rape cases have been recorded a day. The national capital Delhi witnessed the most rape cases at 1,996. Rape cases rose to 38,947 in 2016 from 34,210 in 2015. 2017 and 2018 have witnessed some of the most barbaric rape cases which shows that women in India are not safe at all. Looking specifically at the incidents of rape against children there’s a rise of 82% in 2016. The records show that in 2015, 10,854 rape cases had been lodged including child sex abuse.  The year 2018 has become only worse for children. The year alone has witnessed the most tragic rape cases involving minors.

 Kathua Rape Case

The 8 years old was brutally gang-raped by 8 men in the temple. The minor was reportedly held for days on sedatives and raped in a temple, Kathua. The case has drawn widespread protest across the country.

Jind Rape Case

In January, the body of a 15 years old girl from Jind, Haryana was found in the village of Jhansi. Medical reports showed that the girl had been brutally gang-raped and her private parts had been mutilated. Reported numbers are more and the unreported are lot more about which we are not been aware too. We are on the verge of losing gender equality and with the present scenario, the government legislatures irrational statements have tipped society over the edge. Now the crimes against women and children are being carried out especially to target particular communities which is dividing the nation. And Kathua rape case is one of the examples which shows that sectarian poison released into the nation’s bloodstream by its Hindu nationalists has reached full toxicity.

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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 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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