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“When The PM Says Your Clothes Are Identifiers, You Know Who Wants To Fan The Fire”

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Welcome to the new India which has emerged after successfully butchering the very idea of India where students have more guts than the journalists. The India which has been reduced to mere politics crawling through the social fabric, leaving behind not just friction, but a deep divide that is pinned to the hearts of each and every Indian citizen, irrespective of them finding themselves in the NRC or CAA or not.

Me and all of my family, like millions of others, have been listening to the news and debates across mediums, wondering whether we will be called Indians anymore 2020 onwards. Our fate is being sealed with a bill that turned into an Act overnight, that is both redundant, sectarian, communal and divisive and will call for great human effort and resources further devouring our economy, leaving men, women and children waiting in queues once again, this time holding a few papers which may (not if you belong to minorities) serve as proof of our identities! And worse still, many of us will be rendered in detention centres built across the country for those who have a Muslim name and belong to Islam.

Islamophobia much? Nope, it’s nothing but a deliberate exercise to make the Muslims of India feel marginalised and even persecuted.

A scene from the anti-CAB protest at Jamia.

But, this is not why I am writing today. This write up rather aims to remind each and every Indian that this land called – Bharat, Hindustan, India, is the land seeped with the blood and sacrifice of millions of Muslims. We have been instrumental in the making of the democratic republic of India in 1947 and even after with many illuminaries and visionaries spread across the land.

To those who call for us to leave and go to Pakistan, rest assured we will not, come what may. Our ancestors chose to stay here and we respect that decision along with all those that the constitution of India and its SC upheld so far, even including the highly inconvincing Babri Masjid verdict.

The country is burning but some of us are gloating with a “See? I told you this was coming,” syndrome, and some are plainly rejoicing that now they are likely to get rid of Muslims.

When your PM says your clothes act as identifiers, you know who is looking for the slightest excuse to fan the fire. With statements like these reeking of the 2002 Godhra riots, what may happen is nothing unimaginable, yet it is heart rending. No wonder why students and civilians protest against such draconian atrocities.

Considering the protests happening across the nation, it can be a mammoth revolution. I feel indebted to the non-Muslim students and activists coming out on the streets and roads of Delhi and their respective states protesting against the Act and even getting fatally injured. Those who still think Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 is the right thing and for #AnotherMasterstroke, hope they recover soon before they too, feel the brunt.

With many left-wing politicians fanning the fire and looking for an apt opportunity to gain their brownie points, I implore you to act and think beyond elections, restore our faith in the state and law before the situation turns fatal for people.

It is high time we make our voices reach those at the apex. Each and every citizen must act and register their protest peacefully and show the so-called bosses what the masses can do.

The crux has finally shifted to Jamia now, the bravado of the students protesting shirtless braving the chill is both inspiring and encouraging. The way Jamia students are leaving the campus and hostel is nothing but disheartening. It was not upto students to protest during exams, be beaten up men and women alike, detained and refused medical aid.

In JMI, JNU, AMU and many northeastern universities, many are injured for life with broken limbs and bones. The police, which is supposed to protect people, has been seen violating all humanitarian concerns and laws, refusing to take the blame or responsibility. The images emerging of the protests as well as police brutality both show a picture extremely worrying and revolting.

The police is even harassing women, whether they are part of the protest or not. Rapes or no rapes, the disrespect for women is appalling and is visible in every sense and scene possible. All this makes my heart boil, I feel sad and worried whether I should raise my daughter in an environment so full of hatred.

Its highly deplorable of the Delhi CM who seemingly cares for students, to be now silently watching events unfold. If the likes of Arnab Goswami and Chetan Bhagat can finally talk sense and speak against the heat Jamia students are facing, then its nothing but shame for the rest of the country who silently watch students getting bullied and sullied. Those who still cannot feel the pain and distress of the people protesting, the bubble of disillusion you are in will burst only when the tadipar and his cronies will come at your door and there will be no one to come for help.

I feel so angry that voices which can actually make a difference are silent. No one from the opposition is even milking this opportunity. Had they tried to come out in support of these students and protestors, the game would have changed right away. I know saying this, I have stepped on a highly volatile tangent that reeks of minority politics, but we all are aware that politicians, be it the left or the right, all look for opportunities no matter what people’s sensitivities. Considering this naked truth, why cannot we, the people, use their political ambition and greed in our favour?

Those who keep name-calling Mamata Banerjee who has been out on the road with protestors, go dump your head in cow dung. She is one iron lady who calls a spade a spade without fear every time and stands upto the fascist regime. Salute to the people of Bengal and Kerala and every other state who have registered their support for Delhi and Assam in dissent of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019.

The revolution has started… Come, let’s make our voice unified, louder and booming! Let’s make this autocracy drown in its own diabolic policies!

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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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