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I Feel Vulnerable Walking On The Busy Streets Of Bengaluru

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Safer Roads for YouEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #SaferRoadsForYou, a campaign by Safer Roads for Gurugram and Youth Ki Awaaz to understand the behaviour of road users and advocate for the importance of road safety. Join this conversation and tell us about your experience on Indian roads here.

Bangalore is a city that is applauded for giving its citizens ample time to spend in traffic. It has been more than six months since I shifted to this metropolitan, and it’s safe to say that my most peaceful hours of day-time sleep have been achieved while I was stuck in traffic, and that happens almost every time I’m on the road.

Roads are supposed to be public spaces, they should ideally be accessible for everyone regardless of class, gender and status. But in this fast-paced ‘developing’ city, I am skeptical about the ‘public’ for whom these roads are being planned and built; and wondering as to what accounts for public’s safety on these roads?

I am a resident of the Electronic City area, and also a regular user of Hosur road. This is a part of National Highway 48 and is indeed a very busy street. The question of safety of the road’s users has always bothered me. There have been times when I was a pedestrian and those times happen to be a few of my firsthand experiences of being vulnerable. The streets have no footpaths, and the ongoing metro construction eats up the potential walking space.

Electronic City flyover, Bengaluru.

There are also no zebra crossings and the traffic lights are placed at large gaps from the point where the pedestrians cross. Due to this, pedestrians are bound to miscalculate and cross roads while vehicles are passing by. The subways are also not built very closely, which adds to the problem. The service lanes are supposed to be free of heavy vehicles, which they are not. These are many of the existing reasons that make pedestrians and cyclists the most vulnerable set of people. This description alone does not make a case for danger to the pedestrians, but such planning can always be put under interrogation.

The problem of this sort of planning is not area-specific but is found in many areas of Bangalore. For example, the explanatory report issued by Citizen Matters, which describes the problem in detail, talks about the 10 most accident-prone places in Bengaluru. In addition to this, this four-year-old report provides the statistics of the issue, and explains how about half of those who lost their lives in road accidents were pedestrians.

Reading these reports and bearing witness to the current situation, I can attest that a lot has not changed in these four years. Although measures like regular speed checks and assessment of roads have been taken up by the city’s traffic police, the streets are still highly unsafe as the above-mentioned disparities exist very actively.

This whole situation is rather made up of a lot of concerning issues. First and foremost is the improper planning of roads – the planning is quite poor with respect to including ‘public’ holistically. With the increasing investment in and construction of flyovers, metro networks and broad lanes, there is a decrease in the space available for pedestrian mobility.

In light of various developments, this concern can also be examined in terms of the level of social inclusion. For example, at the Hosur road stretch, it is mostly factory workers or daily wage labourers who use public buses and then, they have to walk a significant distance to reach their destination. This distance that they need to walk is through busy main roads that are dominated by two or four-wheelers.

In cases of accidents, both sides of the story hold equal weight because although the streets are speed-friendly, the pedestrians, at times, do not have any choice but to quickly cross the road. In such situational encounters, which occur in a matter of a few seconds, misfortunes take place. An increasing concern for the citizens of any metropolitan city is a fast-paced life. We all are victims of the rush hours. Maybe that is how urban life is supposed to be, but hurried engagements add to cases of fatalities.

Pedestrians face major issues on Bengaluru roads.

The solution to this entire issue lies in both the level of thought being put in by the ‘city developers’ and the way humans are engaging in a ‘fast-paced life’. Development cannot be seen only through a glass of better infrastructure for one section of society. Safety is one of the basic rights of every citizen and planning plays an important role in ensuring safety. The need of the hour is a rigorous effort by the government to have more user-friendly roads. The expanding cities should not, at any cost, reduce the existing inclusivity in terms of safety. In the end, it is humans and not vehicles that need to be protected.

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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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