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An Open Letter To JTA And Jamia Administration

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The Jamia Teachers’ Association (JTA) & Jamia Administration,
I am from J&K Hostel, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. I want to share with all of you what I am facing during this lockdown. Since the start of the Janta Curfew, my hostel warden constantly called my parents and asked them to shift me from the hostel to any other place. After many issues, I shifted to a PG. Living in this place has only brought on more problems for me.
In the last two months, I have faced immense difficulties with regard to the payment of the room rent and even with the availability of essential things. Recently, I got the news that finally, Jamia’s authority was providing transportation facilities for students to help them return to their homes. After getting the news, I tried to contact the provost, the proctor, the hostel warden, and even the department teachers but all of them refused to take responsibility for me. I have given up on them. No hopes at all.
We genuinely wish peace and happiness for you because we know what the level of distress is when one is miles away from their family, stuck away in a far fetched place, with no one to help them out, not even with the basic amenities; let alone love and care. You proclaimed yourselves to be our guardians every now and then, and now when the time came, you presented us with deafening silence to us. “Kahna toh bahut kuch hai, lekin phir bhi lab khamosh hain”. Because we complain only to Allah.
On our way home now, with the help of Jamia students, right from arranging the buses to looking after us in the middle of the night, we can realize just an ounce of the trouble which our innocent friends are facing who are languishing in the jails and have been wrongly incarcerated. They are being witch-hunted because they asked for their rights and rightly questioned the government.
Yes, we stand with Sharjeel Imam, Abid Husain Zaidi, Sir, can you hear me? We stand with Sharjeel Imam. Last time when we extended our solidarity to the ones who stood for us, you called us local goons. It was you and the administration who targeted my friends because they dared to say it to the face of the liberal-seculars, that we stand with Sharjeel Imam.
You belittled the position of your office. You called your goons and slapped my friends, you harassed them. What is it which doesn’t let you see the struggles of Sharjeel and Safoora and Meeran and so many like them? Is it your dying morality or your covenant with the fascists? And when you go around giving ‘solidarity’, why does it stop when it comes to these leaders? Because they assert their identity while leading the struggle for our oppressed community? Or because they are assertive Muslim scholars whom we proudly claim as our leaders? Unlearn the fear, Sir, and read, and learn.
It is time that you accept the pouring solidarities for Sharjeel imam and all the Jamia students who have been wrongly incarcerated, who stood for us and for the matter of fact, who stood even for your rights!
How low is your morale? At the time when you should have shown solidarity to the students who were opposing the massive wrongs perpetrated by the fascists in this country, you choose to speak nothing? Don’t you remember the struggles of the very University you teach in? Or did your forget it just like your humanity? And why are we even expecting anything from you? When students from the University were being booked under UAPA, you were busy pleasing the administration.
You didn’t have the courage to face the fascists like our leaders, but you could have at least looked after the University students who were stuck away, far from home. It seems you have forgotten this in the comfort of your homes, but this is a global pandemic!
We feel sorry for expecting you to act as our teachers. You have become morally corrupt, we worry for you.
We know our struggles. We will stand with our leaders. Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Shifa-ur-Rehma, and Sharjeel Imam are the face of our resistance. We stand with each one of them.
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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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, 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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