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Straight From The Locker Room: A Banter Too Crummy

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Okay, so let’s ride to a few years back. It’s 2012; thousands of us are walking in a march against a barbaric act played by some of the outlaws of the country. Raging with fire, overwhelmed by hatred, all focused on the accused rapists. Eight years later (also when the justice is served!) coming back to the bright present, we have some evolved outlaws. These ones are a tad bit different, just a tad—it’s a digitized world, so obviously we should update how we harass and saboteur other human’s life.

A safe haven one might call it, virtual reality. How is the safe haven playing out for us? So what if we managed to find the silver lining amidst lockdown—an almost zero crime rate, no rape cases whatsoever, no harassment, no cat-calling.

An Instagram private chat group created by a group of boys in their teens from Delhi would share explicit photos of their girl mates and random profiles, and express what they could do to that body if given a chance. ‘Virtual Rape’, shall we say it? Yet another one we seem to be adding to the big dump of ‘men will be men’ and ‘boys will be boys’ or shall I say ‘bois will be bois’. This dump is nothing but filled with egoistical second nature of typical big-headed men who shouldn’t be put under a tag that is otherwise considered cool.

Not just that—while we were condemning the whole of men’s existence, there comes a twist in the tale—a Girls’ locker room—everything but different than what the now-famous boys’ locker room did (what they could do to a guy and who deserves to be done with). What’s worse is the boys who don’t deserve them would face the wrath of this self-acclaimed goddesses. It’s too biased to put a tag on a specific gender for atrocious comments on someone’s body, physique and color, on someone’s existence.

No no, don’t curse these cults too much, it’s unfair! They are brave; they had their weapons and did not back down from arming themselves with it, a very destructible weapon. The boys wanted to have their way by sharing nudes with the public, and the girls had theirs by calling boys “gay”, because obviously, that is supposed to be an insult. All of it with a language so rotten you might throw up.

As much as you might think otherwise, these boys are aware of feminism; it’s just that it is too passé for them, and the girls are aware of the LGBTQIA but just not enough to respect them. Objectifying is the new ‘cool’ apparently. We were underestimating them—they have other powers too; they could assess someone’s body, its worth. They know how to appreciate the beauty and condemn the ugly. They are way too chivalrous to be compared to rapists; they carry their tasks in secrecy, perhaps they respect humanity too much to do it in public.

Oh no, they aren’t done, they will have their way and will rebel but in secrecy. “Who cares this chat is out now? We can create another one.” What is too crummy to even think about is the fact that the ones who exposed others were not entirely in the clear, for they were rooted in the same vile sea of morally-twisted thought processes.

What pods did we sow, which resulted in a mentality this flawed? Well, the cause of the leak is debatable—too many characteristics at play. We preceded to normalize gang-rapes, child abuse, acid attacks, etc., and while we ‘hate’ men for doing it, it is important not to touch the grey area of men or women. Because no one seems to be benefiting out of it, the whole idea is, how we are as people, as humans? Do we respect each other? How humane are we?

Don’t curse some specific gender that it becomes their second nature to do the contemptible, that you block them from doing better, and don’t victimize some specific gender so much that they can get away with whatever they do.

We are in the 21st century, aren’t we? Still, I think, and I quote the very famous and well-summarized dialogue, “Lajja, Bhartiya pehnava, namrata, pyaar, etc. etc. hi toh aurat ka gehna hota hai“, and women are supposed to play by these rules because otherwise, we have a lot of mansplainers in the house to put them in their place. And obviously, men can’t be assaulted because, well, here is another one, “mard ko dard nahi hota.

How is this for a platinum lining? We fix our modern society with a jawline so sharp, and it can cut through beauty standards; a profile so pretty, others’ seem trash; a hypocritical brain and a tummy so muscular, it can gulp down everything a man does due to certain preconceived notions, and at the same time, ignoring what a woman does because it is too vile for a lady to do! But perhaps the abs are not strong enough to support the weight of accepting each other as humans, and not objects or pieces meant to fulfill only certain desires.

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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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