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Blindfolded By Religion, Devoid of Reason

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Religion often takes precedence over reason. People across the world have committed horrible sins in the name of religion. Once again a crime was committed in the name of religion. Last month, more than 2000 people gathered for a religious congregation in the Nizamuddin area of New Delhi amid the coronavirus outbreak.

On March 13, Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic reformist group, organized a large gathering of more than 2000 people in the Nizamuddin area. The gathering was attended by foreign nationals from Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Kyrgyzstan, and Malaysia. The area has now become a hotspot of the spread of the fatal coronavirus. Intentionally or unintentionally, the Jamaat has also become responsible for spreading the virus across national borders. 

 

girl blindfolded
Source: https://www.saatchiart.com/

 

According to the reports, the head of the Jamaat, Maulana Saad has been accused of influencing the attendees of defying the lockdown. As of now, the Maulana has gone missing. The Delhi Police has lodged an FIR against him and the search to find him is on. Maulana Saad has also released a video statement claiming that the allegations against him are completely wrong. He has also said that he has self-isolated himself and has requested everyone who attended the event to come out of the closet and get tested.

Now, people across India who had participated in the Islamic congregation are testing positive for COVID-19. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, people who attended the religious gathering have traveled across 27 states and carried the virus with them. 

It is not about one particular community or religion but unfortunately, a crime has been committed in the name of a particular religion. It is not about encouraging Islamophobia but the act has been executed in the name of Allah. If ignoring a lethal pandemic that is responsible for more than 50,000 deaths worldwide is not blind faith then what is? 

Many people are defending their actions by citing various reasons. It does not matter whether the complete lockdown was imposed or not. The question here is that when the red flag was already raised against the global pandemic and when social distancing was termed as the only way of staying safe, why did they organize such a large gathering?

However, the Delhi government on 13 March prohibited any gathering of more than 200 people under the Epidemic Diseases Act. Moreover, they also directed people coming from any COVID-19 affected countries to self-isolate. Members of the Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin violated both these rules. Reports have been pouring in from Uttar Pradesh of the Tablighi linked COVID patients for misbehaving with the doctors. The least they can do is to cooperate with the doctors and help the administration in contact tracing. 

The Health Ministry has confirmed that a total of 647 positive coronavirus cases in the last two days are linked to the Tablighi Jamaat. The cases have been reported from across India. Around 10 deaths reported are linked to the event and more than 9000 Tablighi Jamaat contacts have been traced and quarantined. The total number of COVID cases in India touched 2,547 with 62 deaths so far.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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