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All Lives Matter But The Colour Of Their Skin Doesn’t

Are we socially active? No, I don’t mean active on social networking sites, because that I’m confident we are, no matter what happens. My question here refers to the big guys of the media world who converse, inscribe and sometimes even debate on what’s right for the society and what’s not.

What enthused me to further delve into this question was an article that I read on one of the online forums, to add to it was a cacophonous debate that I caught glimpses of, as it was being aired on one of the biggest news channels of the country. The topic of debate was “Fairness cream advertising: Is it fair?”

Of course, it’s not fair – that’s the answer you would get from more than half the population of the country, then why debate! What I mean to say is – what is the outcome we are looking at when we debate on a subject that has been projected as a deep-rooted need of society. Fairness has been associated with beauty for donkey’s years and now you have the famous faces of Bollywood endorsing the fairness creams, which in turn leads to the viewers believe that success comes through being fair. I wonder what happened to the adage – “beauty is skin deep?”

fairness creams and colourism in india, racism protest
Being a tropical country, Indians have a higher concentration of melanin in their skin which actually protects them from the harmful effects of UV rays including skin cancer etc,

Today you have all these advertisements relating success to being fair and beautiful – these ads also give you a time frame in which they assure you that you’d attain success – phew, it’s a ‘fair shortcut’ to success I must say.

Being a tropical country, Indians have a higher concentration of melanin in their skin which actually protects them from the harmful effects of UV rays including skin cancer etc, so now I wonder if the media actually pondered over the scientific reasons of variation in skin tones, because if they did, then the top notches of media wouldn’t be straining their vocal cords over a subject so meagre. Instead, they would be focusing on whether the creation of such ads is really necessary and the reason why I say this is because if there is a need that arises in the society, advertisements tap into that need and make the product more desirable.

Why do we lay such importance on being fair and fairness products? We in a way are challenging the creation of god or rather, we are trying to say that he made a mistake by creating some people the way they are, do opportunities and success really depend on how you look or does it depend on the quality of your work. Even the debate on television was all about putting the blame squarely on advertising on how they promote a certain product with biases. 

We talk about being in the 21st century and all the technological advancements that India has achieved as a country, then why is it difficult for the highly educated lot of this country to think beyond the obvious.

If we are so concerned over the content of the ads that get featured on how to change to skin colour, then why don’t we stop creating such ads, why don’t we raise our voices, create a Facebook group, tweet on our friends’ profile, a blog on various website, and if need be, even run a morcha against the creation on such ads and then that would be, the beginning of the end to the obsession with being fair. Currently, Johnson and Johnson took note of possibly racist and colourist products. The company has announced that it will no longer sell skin-lightening products in Asia and the Middle-East. 

Let’s unite to fight against the racism created by these ads amongst our own people and I’m confident we won’t need a ‘black lives matter’, caption and images to help us end this menace of fairness products.

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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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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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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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