Is The Hyderabad Encounter Really A Solution To Crimes Against Women?

 

Some people welcomed the actions of the police while others were not in favour.

All 4 charged in Hyderabad vet rape case killed in a police encounter! Ok, so I woke up to this news today, and I wasn’t confident about how to act in response. Just the day before, I mean yesterday, I read – “Unnao rape case victim walked over a km with 90% burns to seek help, call police.” While the entire nation is celebrating what seems to be a Bollywood movie scene in the Hyderabad murder case, the victim of Unnao is struggling with 90% burns and the doctor said there is a little chance of her survival.

Let me share with you all some news, that happened in the same week:

  • In Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, a woman was gang-raped by five men on her way home from grocery shopping, on Thursday.
  • A body of a 20-year-old was found in the bushes in Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu by shepherds on 26th November.
  •  An 11-year-old girl was kidnapped and raped by an auto-rickshaw driver in Punjab on 29th November.
  • A 14-year-old girl was raped by two men near Navlakhi Compound. She was out with a male friend who is also a teenager. The perpetrators posed as policemen.
  •  At a brick kiln near Ranchi’s high-security region, a 25-year-old law student was abducted and gang-raped by 12 men at gunpoint.

Shocked? Well, I am not, for the reason that rape is the fourth most widespread crime against women in India. (Source: National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). And I live in a country, where sexual subjugation, gender inequality, lack of sexual autonomy, poor communal priorities, high population with low education, and the way people think, are the reasons behind the crimes against women.

I think, we, as a society, are conscientious somewhere. Just open your eyes and see what our uncles and aunties think about an independent woman – independent in every way!

There is a lot of rage existing in our country, more or less everywhere in India. In many roads or colonies, you will observe a group of aged people sitting together, with a cup of chai and talking about (rather I can say passing their judgment) on the new generation, especially girls.

If they see a girl is holding her boyfriend’s hand, they straight away start commenting on her character and so on. But you will never see any one of them saying anything, to those boys, who commonly park their bikes on a corner of the road, and eve tease girls passing by.

Well, what can you expect from a country where a person below 18 years is tried as a minor for rape? Marital rape is another monstrous crime which takes place in our country, and it’s legal!

City people hold a candlelight tribute to Nirbhya.

As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, “as many as 32,559 rapes were reported in India in 2017 and the accused were known to the victims in 93.1% of the cases who are “family friends”, employers, neighbours or other known persons.”

Just to make things more clear, let me share something with you all. More than 133,000 rape cases are pending in India, that includes 2012 Delhi gang rape, and reporting of such cases has climbed to 60% in 2016, with child rape accounting for about 40%.

Was The Hyderabad Encounter Justified?

Now, coming to what was done by the Hyderabad Police, that raised a number of questions among the people. Some people welcomed the police’s actions while others were not in favour. However, in my opinion, whatever has been done, is not justice, not in the world’s largest democracy, not in terms of law and order. But it’s not that I am not happy.

I say this because justice is supposed to be equal for all. What about the BJP MLA from UP who was accused of rape, what about Nirbhaya’s case, the Kathua case and what about all the other cases which should get justice? Those cases are pending because of the involvement of some powerful political personalities; and if you think sensibly, then you will realise that it’s nothing but an eyewash.

As a nation, as the largest democracy, we are unsuccessful in protecting our own daughters and it’s not like only women are the victims, sometimes men are as well. India is in such a phase, at present, where the essential fundamental rights are under threat. Be it education, religion, employment, or economy; the alarming situation is everywhere. But we hardly see our government taking any steps to make a better India.

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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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