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Babri Masjid: A Reminder To Never Go Back To The State Of Hate

It has been 26 years since the Babri Masjid demolition, 26 years lie witness to India’s ‘secularism’.

On 6 December 1992 in the name of organizing a rally,1,50,000 Hindu Kar Sevaks of the Bharatiya Janta Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad turned violent after hate speeches delivered by some veteran politicians of the BJP. This was followed by the Hindu Kar Sevaks demolishing a 400-year-old mosque – Babri Masjid. Some blamed the state government of the time and BJP leaders like Lal Krishna Advani, Uma Bharti, and Murli Manohar Joshi, while some blameNarasimha Rao’s central government’s failure to uphold secularism in the country. Whatever the case may be, the ramifications were direful. This outrageous incident took the lives of over 2000 people around India in riots sparked by the Masjid’s demolition.

What happened can never be reversed. On the 26th anniversary of the demolition, all we can do is condemn the incident and offer condolences to the families of people who lost their lives to the dreadful riots.

But, think again? Is that really ALL we can do?

No. I think as the future of the country, we can help India restore its secular values and work as #YouthWagingPeace in our respective communities. We can put a stop to the divide – and -rule politics of these party leaders.

I come from a place, where such incidents are very common. Hindu-Muslim communities keep clashing over the smallest of issues to establish dominance in their communities. We all witnessed footage of the Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013. They had started at a place called Shamlimy birthplace. I have grown up with very conservative Hindu values and was taught and expected to despise people from the Muslim community. For 20 years, I did pretty well and believed I could never get along with Muslims. As far as I remember, I never had any Muslim friend until this August 2018!

For me, even coming into contact with a Muslim individual and having an interaction used to be a fearful experience because of all the insecurities and deep-rooted fears that would keep reminding me to quit and never indulge with the other community in any way. Alas, if I go on about my experiences, this article would never end.

What really matters is the turning point in my life, that made me question my beliefs, my faith, the religious teachings I was raised with, and my ways of living with Islamophobia.

This August, I returned from a place called Kotri in Rajasthan where I volunteered with Manthanan organization working with the village community to address the challenges faced by them. This experience was the one where I pushed myself off the edge of my own boundaries and reflected on my own inadequacies. The conflict within me was never-ending. If you’d have asked me then to sit and peacefully engage with people from all faiths, I’d never do it even in return for something precious. I lacked the very values and experiences which help a person live peacefully in a diverse society – without any fear of violence or assault from an ‘other’ community at any point. These insecurities take a deep root in your psyche, and are really scaryYour mind doesn’t develop coping mechanisms to deal with such situations.

After returning from Rajasthan, I took up the SMILE fellowship offered by a Delhi based NGO called Pravah. I had the freedom to build my own project and I chose theme Communal Harmony and Interfaith. It was a personal issue that I connected with and wished to work on. The experience so far has been extremely challenging and I feel as though I am yet to achieve something big working on the project is taking up most of my time and effort. I need to struggle with breaking my own stereotypes, build my own perspectives before I can take it to society. The fact that it is a sensitive issue doesn’t help and working to change people’s mindset gets demotivating at times.

However, throwing myself out of my comfort zone and communicating with people who don’t come from my religion particularly follow Islam has been life-changing. And my only appeal to those reading this is – you should do it, too I know it can be scary, but these experiences that really help us grow to be more accepting. If you can’t change yourself to seek such experiences, you are essentially part of the same cluster of people who keep ranting about India not being secular but choose to not change anything about it

On this day, as a reminder to never go back to the state of hate that was spread all over India 26 years ago, I beg of you to take up the mantle of building communal harmony and interfaith dialogue in your own communities. I bet it will be an enriching learning experience and work to wage peace.

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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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