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Is Getting Married Really A ‘Happily Ever After’?

Oh no, don’t get ideas from the title. I have nothing against a happy ending. In fact, I am fanatic of rom-coms and damn, I have my entire shelf filled with rom-com novels. I get ‘happily ever after’ when it’s in there you know and even yearn for it for my characters. I go into their world because it’s beautifully unreal. And that’s exactly what it should be too – ‘unreal’. All these ‘happy endings’ irk me only when everyone starts going gaga about them happening in real.

Seriously, does a happy ending exist? And god, of all the things, is getting married a ‘happily ever after’?

I really really want to know something! Who the hell thought that putting two human beings in one house can bring happiness? I mean why would a human with a sane mind leave the peaceful bliss of their own company and want to live with another human? And then go around complaining about how much life sucks! Like seriously?

Seriously, does a happy ending exist? And god, of all the things, is getting married a ‘happily ever after’?/Representational image.

Okay, let me tell you about myself for you to understand and relate a little to my ranting. I’m someone who likes her independence, who enjoys being with herself so much that even the thought of being with another human in the same house feels like my lungs are being crammed! So that being said, marriage for me is a cage that I never want to be caught in. That’s easily said than done right? Being from an Indian middle-class family, my dad is going to flip if he gets to know these are my thoughts on a “pure tradition” like marriage.

Arggghhh, if only I could put in words about how much I hate the tradition. And to peak it all, I feel guilty to even have this hate towards something that is assumed pure by every living soul. Why exactly do I hate it? I’m getting there! Why is getting married and popping out more humans an end goal in life? I mean, is furthering the human race the only reason we are born for? Oh, don’t even get me started by telling me I will get lonely or I won’t have anything to live for!!

Is the world that small, that me, one tiny human, can’t find something to live for? Just because I should have some purpose to live for, I have to get connected with another human and bring other humans into this world. Wow, how exactly did we get caught in this vicious cycle? I don’t get it. There are so many problems in this world. I mean, I can be part of so many purposes. I can make my purpose of life to make other people’s life a little more livable. I get happiness from those moments where even if it’s something tiny, I still did someone some good.

I’m not saying everyone has to march out and start a rally. But shouldn’t we all be given a choice? And the choice should probably start from whether we want to get married? When do we want to get married? Who do we want to get married to? Shouldn’t the individual or individuals in question be the only people making these decisions? Why exactly do the family and the society think that this has got something to do with them in any way?

Okay, so I’m a girl. So I’m going to talk like one and also because I have no clue what all absurdities a guy also has to go through when the “age” comes!

Growing up, my mom ensured that I knew all about household work. I’m not complaining, everyone really should be able to manage their households. I can survive easily out in the world without needing a house help or a cook. And I’m happy that my mom made me independent in this way. Till here I have no complaints. But now that the “age” is nearing and “those conversations” are starting, somehow there is a requirement that I have to be better at all this? Why? Because I’m supposed to be going to “another house”!

I should have control over my voice. Why? Because I will be going to “another house” soon! I should learn to adjust a little! Why? Because I have to bloody go to “another house”. Why the hell is no one asking me if I even want to go to the freaking other house or not? Do you think these are the only weird things I have heard? There is more.

Wanna adopt a pet? Do it after marriage! Wanna get tattoos? Get it after marriage! Wanna get a piercing? Get it after marriage! Don’t be so ambitious! Because you need to get married! But the best among all the other nonsensical things I was told by my mother. She said, “My life is miserable, I regret getting married and it probably is the biggest blunder I committed in my life but you still have to get married”.

I mean what the hell? Shouldn’t someone stop their kid from making the same mistakes they did? Isn’t that the point of the entire parenting thing? But apparently not. There is no choice here! Not for me, not for you, not for any of you out there! And that thing exactly is what I have all the problems with! So even though this is wishful thinking, I really hope that I vanish somewhere if these conversations get any more insane and pointless than they already are.

So much for hoping!

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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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