‘All Of Us Opposing CAA Need To Unite Because It’s Our Unity The State Is Afraid Of’

The ongoing protests across the country—majority of which are peaceful—couldn’t find the space in the news channels’ propaganda and TRP-hungry domain. There are certain things to understand from this.

All the people who intend to protest peacefully must be well aware by now how deep the bigotry has been entrenched in the soul of this nation. Today, majority of people who are opposing (even peaceful protests), enjoy all sorts of privileges, sitting at home in their cozy blankets; they are saying that all those who are hitting the streets are ‘propagating violence’. They are saying there is nothing to fear about the CAA or NRC, individually, as well as in a combined form.

Women activists protesting against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. (PTI Photo)

I request all these intellectual souls to just ask the poor people around you: can they provide the documents to prove their nationality? If yes, that is great, but if not, can they provide documents from which states they are residents then, as mentioned in the Citizenship Amendment Act? If that does not move you, I have nothing more to say to you, and neither I expect anything from you.

As per the CAA and I quote, “Provided that any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered into India on or before the 31st day of December, 2014 and who has been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any rule or order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrant for the purposes of this Act.”

Now, I would like to bring to your attention the fact that all those poor people who never attended schools or ever owned a piece of land might not be able to prove their nationality. They are residents of this country, Indian nationals, but they will definitely fail to provide the proof. If and only if they belong to the above-mentioned six religious communities, they have hope (if they can prove they are the persecuted minorities). And those from the Muslim community might not even get that exception.

But why being a Muslim or non-Muslim is secondary is because at no cost Indian nationals will be able to prove that they are immigrants from these three countries. Thus, we need to unite and spread this information as much we can. You and I, the ‘keyboard warriors’, might not be affected much, but those who are poor and illiterate will find it endlessly troublesome to prove that they are the legal citizens of this country.

The students were made to raise their hands and walk like criminals in Jamia University. Image Reuters

More importantly, the issue that I find immensely threatening is the mindset that many of our compatriots have reduced to. On the 15th of December, the UP Police broke into the campus of Aligarh Muslim University where students were protesting over the CAA-NRC, and a similar attack took place in Delhi’s Jamia Milia Islamia. Usually, the Police uses water-canon to disperse the mob/protestors, but, here, instead of following the procedure police brutally barged in and used tear gas and lathi-charged the students.

Moreover, due to internet breakdown, the news of AMU wasn’t easily publishable to the outside world. After a couple of days, we came to know that one of the student’s hand was amputated by the “fireworks” police used. I was dejected by this news and it disheartened me to an exponential amount. This news dejected me, and it disheartened me to an exponential amount. To tell the folks what fascism looks like and how the State is using all its might to suppress the voice of opposition, one of my friends and I uploaded this news on Instagram, to which, a schoolmate replied: “Why isn’t he dead yet?”.

His response astounded me. It is a question we all need to ask ourselves, how come we started hating a particular community so much that we are rooting for their unjustifiable death? It is high time for us to revisit our fundamentals and clear our vision where we rejoiced in everyone around us—because we were not among the lot that discriminates people on the basis of religion or race or region.

All of us who are on this side, opposing the CAA and NRC, need to unite. It is our unity that the State is afraid of, that’s why we see inadequate civil posts in our WhatsApp groups which target a particular community for expressing their discontent on the State’s decision. Look out for the people near you and share your views about the Secular fabric of India, organize yourselves and show your opposition to the State by writing to the government and by peacefully protesting against their fascist decisions.

At any cost, please do not incite violence, neither support it as it will reduce our cause and will bring us back to square one. Unite, organize, and protest against fascism. We cannot let our country be reduced to a fascist dictatorship. We cannot let the government pass further bills that are unconstitutional and discredit Article 14 of our constitution.

Please read about the CAA and NRC and educate people around you about it. Spread the word that it is not only the poor Muslims who are at the centre of all the sufferings but all those who will not be able to provide their documents to prove their citizenship, irrespective of their religion.

Let’s Unite, Organize, and Agitate.

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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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