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My Body Is Mine And Your Eyes Won’t Define It

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Every other day I get to hear news on rape. Sometimes of an eight month old, sometimes of a teenager, sometimes of a married woman and sometimes even of the fragile old women. The situation has fallen so low that even animals aren’t spared now.
Hearing all this a cold wave of disgust and anger passes my mind. Like who should we actually blame for this… The criminals or their parents for giving them such poor upbringing or the society who always deprived girls of their rights but forgot to teach values to their boys…

Its not something new if we see it properly… These actions and disrespect towards women can be rooted back in the history. The mythological stories that make our foundation are evident how miserably women were treated that resulted in destructive outcomes. The derobing of draupadi, which Duryodhan did to just to satisfy his male ego, which ofcourse Lord Krishna came to save the day but that does not change the fact that admist so many capable people sitting over there who followed their so called “dharma”, a woman had to loose her dignity. Same is with Ramayana, where taking away a woman without her consent was okay with the so called scholar, Ravan. And Rama, he did not even even try to hear sita’s side of story and she had to burn herself down and finally bury herself in the earth, to prove her purity.

The problem is not only rapes and the problem is not only with the guys. The problem is of our society and its mentality. The society, which always eyes on a girl wearing short clothes, partying late night, having boyfriends or drinking or any other thing that the society feels a “sanskaari” girl should not do… And that group of society does not only comprise of men, it comprises of the women too, who judge every other girl who does not fit their “sanskari” criteria. The society, who thinks a girl on her menstrual days is not pure to enter the temple, but celebrates the goddess in her menstrual phase. The society, who puts numerous rules and restrictions when a girl goes out, but forgets to ask questions to their boys. We live in a society where the girl is shamed off when she is raped, and not the criminal who did that crime. Our society slams a girl to be in a live-in relationship but never questions the boy who she lives with. When we ask questions to our mom and dad, we are asked to compromise. We are said learn to compromise or how will you adjust with your in laws.
Why should we compromise or follow these rules in the first place? Why are we shamed for wearing clothes exposing our body, when men can do that easily. We dont eye upon a boy moving around in boxers, then why would they. Who gave this right to the society to judge us or rape us with their eyes. And if exposing bodies is the only cause for rapes, then tell me the fault of the 8 month old baby, or the weak fragile grandmother or the poor stray animal…. Did they do anything too to excite our overexcited men.

The society has to change. Their mentality has to change. And I feel, this generation we are in, there are more of those people who can think in a rational way… I really salute those guys, who admist of such pathetic condition of women, are voicing up in their support. I adore their upbringing…. Recently, I came across a dance performance in a dance reality show. A group of boys performed on the words said by RJ Nawed. I really liked their message that why should we say “beti bachao, beti padhao”…. We are already putting girls in a vulnerable state with this slogan. Why not “beto ko batao aur na mane to thappar lagao”…. We really do not need to work on women empowerment, cause they are so capable to reach any heights by themselves, rather we should work on the mentality of the society that think “girls are weak”.
And, these politicians, and the hindu muslim activists, you guys keep on fighting with each other in the name of god. Because you cannot do anything better. A girl gets raped and is in a critical condition or dies, why would you care if that does not fit any of your religious agendas.

Until and unless, the mentality of each and every person changes in this society, we are doomed to live in this darkness forever. Every guy, every girl, evry parent has to realise that all of us co-exist. Nobody should be dominated by the existense of others. If every mother teaches her son, that girls are equal as them and not an object for them to prey upon. And, the criminals should be hanged till death, without wasting time on their mercy plea, they should be punished so severe that even their soul gets frightened. Then only the situation will change.

Otherwise, that day is near, when a mother would want to abort her girl child, not because they want a boy but because, they would be scared, if a girl is born, she would be raped someday……..

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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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