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A Letter To The Ministry Of Women And Child Development

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TW: Mentions of sexual assault.

Dear Ministry of Women and Child Development, and the National Commission for women,

Today, I am writing to you with an urgent request. Please bear with the length of this letter because the issue I am going to talk about is grave, and requires a profound analysis.

In November 2019, I had an exam and the centre was too far. So, I had to leave the house at 5:00 am. I walked to the metro station where my friends were waiting for me with the cab. Though the metro station is at a 5-minutes distance, I thought of taking a rickshaw because it was dark. But I had no luck with that, so I just walked.

The streets were silent and few people could be seen. My heart skipped a beat when I noticed a shadow behind me. The street lights helped me recognise that it was the shadow of a man coming towards me. I felt numb and started to walk faster. The shadow kept coming closer and finally, the man walked past me. I took a deep breath and kept walking.

I realised that the man had no intention of hurting me but I was scared. That’s because being a woman, I am always scared, especially when I am alone.

8 years ago, a girl was brutally raped and left naked on the road to die. She was beaten up, assaulted, raped, objects were inserted in her vagina. I don’t need to explain much, you are already aware of this horrific crime.

Representational image.

What I want to stress on is since December 2012, the violent cases of rapes and vaginal insertions have increased. Rape is a serious crime that jolts a woman physically as well as emotionally. Now, these rapists injure the victims by inserting objects in their private parts. This behaviour vividly states that apart from being perverts these rapists are also sadists. They derive pleasure from the pain they inflict on the victim.

Such behaviour can be said to have increased since the December 2012 rape case. Recently, a 12-year old girl was raped by a man in the Preet Vihar area of National Capital. This minor girl also sustained injuries in the intestine and private parts. She was attacked with scissors and stabbed multiple times.

I should remind here how, in the Kathua case in Jammu and Kashmir, and the Hyderabad case in 2019, the women and girl were raped and murdered. I hope you still remember the Unnao rape case victim, who gave up her life fighting for justice.

I live in a country where Goddesses are worshipped. Simultaneously, such horrendous crimes take place. This throws light on how disrespectful society is towards women. The question is, why don’t such incidents come to a halt? Every now and then, women keep falling victims to these monsters.

I believe that Indian laws are not effective enough to save their own women. Our judiciary took 7 years to punish the rapists of Nirbhaya. The rapist of the Unnao rape case survivor was guarded by the authorities, which resulted in the death of the victim’s father and finally, the victim herself.

Representational image. Image Credit: Getty

This clearly states the helplessness of this country’s mechanism in the realm of women’s safety. Instead of punishing them, the ruling governments try to save the criminals. This gives these perverts the confidence to commit such brutal crimes.

Things do not end here. Social media has also become a way of harassing women. You would remember how Agrima Joshua was openly given rape threats. Where do you think this audacity to threaten women with rape comes from? It is ingrained in people’s minds. They are not scared of the lawmakers. Lack of strict and substantial laws lead to such horrific crimes.

My mother gets all worried when my phone battery drains out and I don’t come home in time. She keeps going to the balcony so she can see me coming. Honestly, I would never want to give birth to a girl in such an atmosphere. Respect, love, and integrity for women can no longer be seen in this country. A girl is raped and the incident goes out of the light as soon as the protests are called-off.

I want to know, why aren’t the culprits punished in time? I do realise that trials and cases are time-consuming. But, a sense of fear needs to be instilled in the minds of these people. I feel that the punishment should be severe to an extent that the thought of raping a woman fills them with fear and shakes their soul.

Representational image.

It is my humble request to you, please help make this country a better place for women. If I have a daughter in the future, I don’t want her to live in fear. I don’t want her to ask me why women are raped? I don’t want her to feel how I feel. All I am asking is for you to implement better laws, so women’s safety is ensured. Stricter punishment should be introduced because I don’t want to see more women and girls leaving this world like this.

I hope you would give strong heed to my concerns. We, the women of India want to feel safe. Please look into this matter.

Thank You!

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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.

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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.

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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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