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6 Ways To Fight Islamophobia In India

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“Everyone in my locality says that Muslims are spreading the Coronavirus,” with these words, our maid left the job abruptly at the start of the lockdown. 

My mother was shocked. This was the closest experience we had in recent times of the whole Islamophobic reaction. It is chilling, yet the gravity of the incident is nothing compared to what some Muslims are facing in our country.  Islamophobia is on a rise in India. There are growing incidences of Muslim community being targeted as a result of venomous Islamophobic campaign. Sane societies are astonished to see the violent side of Hinduism; until now, for the world, Hinduism was synonymous with spirituality. It has put the democratic and secular credentials of our country in doubt. 

Islamophobia is on a rise in India.
Islamophobia is on a rise in India.

So what is Islamophobia? As per, it means“an exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life”.

Simply to equate Islamophobia in India, it is racism plus ongoing violence against Muslims by Hindutva ideology groups. Let’s look at some examples of how it results in. 

Mohammed Saleem, a daily wager who was helping his brother sell vegetables in Delhi’s Tajpur road during the lockdown, was abused and beaten up. Post confirming he is a Muslim, his abuser shouted, “Tum logo ne Jihad macha diya hai. (You guys are doing Jihad) The Delhi police have made an arrest in this incident. 

At the time when our country is struggling with Coronavirus pandemic, Islamophobic hashtags like #CoronaJihad and alike appeared on social media. This is to spread misinformation, fear, and hatred that Muslims are intentionally spreading the virus. People are being advised, some by BJP lawmakers, to stay away from Muslims even calling it bioterrorism.

BJP, Hindutva outfits, and lapdog media is a deadly combination and more dangerous than a virus for our nation. These media channels are hotspots for spreading racism and Islamophobia. Recently, police registered cases against Zee News Sudhir Chaudhary, News 18’s Amish Devgan, and Republic Tv’s Arnab Goswamy for targeting Muslims.

Through an orchestrated campaign, every aspect of a Muslim’s life is being made controversial. As put by Hilal Ahmed in his book Siyasi Muslims, “In the past four years, we have been repeatedly told that Muslims’ eating habits are anti-Hindu/anti-national as they eat beet; that Muslims men don’t love, they make love -jihad with Hindu girls; the Muslims couples deliberately have sex to increase their community’s population to outnumber the Hindus; and that they offer namaz on roads to convert public lands into mosque territory! This propaganda is followed by actual violence against Muslims-lynching, molestation, and even rape.” 

Now comes the critical question, what is the vaccine for this virus of hate? 

Six Ways To Fight Islamophobia: The Vaccine For Hatred

Islamophobia is on a rise in India.
Islamophobia is on a rise in India.
    1. You can fight Islamophobia by being united against this campaign of hate. Perpetrators of Islamophobia are not just a threat to the Muslim community but also the peaceful, secular, and democratic societies. In this sense, Islamophobia is a fight between the Indians against the Hindutva ideology, and it can only be defeated when we all stand together. 
    2. Islamophobia is not a stand-alone issue; instead, it is one part of a larger struggle for justice, equity, and human rights. Means your fight, and solidarity should equally be with every type of discrimination, hate, and perpetuating violence. 
    3. Do not fight the hate mongers with any form of violence. Violence is what fanatic Hindutva outfits aspire for. Responding to violence with violence will only lead us in a never-ending cycle of violence. Our constitution, unity, solidarity, and compassion are the best remedies against this campaign of hate. 
    4. If you come across any Islamophobic content on social media, do not let go but report. We cannot let hate go viral without being challenged under the law. Report to local authorities like the police commissioner in your city, District Magistrate, Cyber cell, etc. at the regional level. Apart from that, you can tag or report to national authorities like the Ministry of Home, Human Rights/ Minority commission, etc., and internationally to Human Rights groups and UN agencies. As well as report to the platform on which it is being circulated like Facebook or Twitter. 
    5. Support the people living with Islamophobia in any manner possible. If you can reach out to the victim, provide personal, psychological & financial care. Help the person file FIR and deal with not so easy authorities. If you get to know the incident via news or on social media, condemn it, express concern, and show solidarity. 
    6. Finally and importantly, address the issue with dialogue. Many people fell into the trap of propaganda and misinformation, find an opportunity to talk, clarify, and put across honest views. In the process, listen to the other side and maybe amend if we are wrong.

To join the campaign against hate, drop an email to

Featured Photo: Pranav Nahata on Unsplash

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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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