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Has Safoora Zargar Also Lost Her Human Rights After Being Charged Under UAPA?

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Safoora Zargar, a name which has been made famous due to the atrocities caused to the 27-year-old student pursuing M. Phil from the renowned Jamia Milia Islamia which is at present thought to be an institution filled with ‘anti-nationals’.

Well, Safoora Zargar, who is pregnant, has been in jail since April 10, 2020, for protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Safoora, the media coordinator of the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC), played a central role in leading the protests from the University, since December. According to a report by The Hindu, Zargar who was 14-weeks pregnant at that time, was arrested and sent to judicial custody on April 10, based on an FIR which accused her of participating in anti-CAA and NRC protests at the Jaffrabad metro station, prior to riots breaking out in the area.

Bail was granted on the grounds of her pregnancy, and other medical conditions on April 13. But in the meantime, she was remanded under another FIR, which slapped her with the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Under this act, she has been charged with 18 criminal activities including rioting, possession of arms, attempt to murder, incitement of violence, sedition, murder, and promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion.

safoora, UAPA, delhi police, delhi roits, jamiya, saheen bagh, social media
According to a report by The Hindu, Zargar who was 14-weeks pregnant at that time, was arrested and sent to judicial custody on April 10.

A pregnant lady is in Tihar jail for something which is not proven yet. Her bail has been cancelled. And yet the hate mongers tend to question her integrity, her personal life. To get admitted into such an esteemed university is not easy. Many people have tried hard but those who had in them, go ahead to join it. And pursuing a postgraduation degree isn’t for everyone. She is not some sadist who will take pleasure by creating ruckus while pregnant.

Safoora graduated from Jesus and Mary College, Delhi University, where she was associated with the Women’s Development Cell and also ran a campus magazine. She pursued a career in marketing and then went on to do her Master’s in Sociology from Jamia University.

She knew all the consequences and stood up for what she thought was right but she couldn’t have thought about the brutalities waiting for her and. The ‘seditious behaviour’ about which the FIR talks doesn’t make sense. Because according to speeches made by some politicians, they should be among the people to be prisoned on the basis of the charges of sedition.

This incident has attracted both national and international attention with several human rights activists, and even politicians seeking her demand on humanitarian grounds. This ‘witch-hunt’ of minorities being conducted by investigating authorities against anti-CAA protesters, and the students who are questioning the government are treated like threats to national security under the draconian UAPA Act. All this is getting lots of criticism from all over the globe.

This matter is heartbreaking and also thought-provoking but, here also, some people failed to show empathy and went ahead to troll her on social media.

Even BJP leader Kapil Mishra commented on her pregnancy. It was thereafter that social media goons got the courage to pass derogatory comments. Many sexist and bigoted trolls have been spreading rumours about her pregnancy, raising questions on her dignity and the identity of the father, and even accusing her of using the pregnancy as a shield to get away from the legal proceedings.

person holding a banner that says scrap the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016.
Representational image. This ‘witch-hunt’ of minorities being conducted by investigating authorities against anti-CAA protesters.

A number of obscene memes and posts are getting viral. Because at the end of the day the society still believes that by questioning a women’s character they get the full right to punish her even before being proven as guilty. That’s the mentality which is creating all this online ruckus.

Safoora’s husband is clearly disturbed by all the unverified and false information about her being spread to malign and defame her. He didn’t even want to comment on all this nonsense and just said: “I don’t even want to dignify these trolls by responding to them, they will do what they have to.

Even though we talk about feminism and all but still the thought process is limited to talking about the ‘legitimacy’ of someone’s child. The problem here is not Safoora’s child, but her arrest and the inhumanity which is making her suffer even in times of such crisis.

Her family is upset and appalled by all of this, but they still have faith in the judiciary. But it really doesn’t bother the trolls who keep talking of the DNA of the unborn child, and constantly raising a finger at her marital status. If we couldn’t do anything good for anyone shouldn’t we keep mum and not gossip about it rancorously. But still, we did, and hence, it can be clearly concluded that: We as Indians failed. We as humans failed.

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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.

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