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Dear Media, There Are A Number Of Pressing Issues To Talk About

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Sushant Singh Rajput was found lifeless in his Bandra apartment in Mumbai on 14 June, 2020. The unfortunate and untimely death of a young, talented and promising actor left everyone shocked. I have been a Journalism student for a year now. I have learnt that Journalism is all about being fair, ethical and unbiased. It plays a significant role in helping people have access to a free flow of information.

OB Van
The media is responsible for the dissemination of news.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The job of Journalists is to provide information as news to the people about the affairs taking place in the country,” and not to entertain or pass judgements. Presently, Sushant Singh Rajput’s case has rebranded Journalism. This brand new Journalism speculates events, gives superfluous opinions and is fond of rubbing salt into the wounds. This contemporary Journalism has thrown away everything. They are concerned about justice for one person when thousands of people are dying in their country due to Coronavirus. Let’s keep reasons for other deaths aside.

These modern Journalists perform several jobs simultaneously. They investigate, inform, write, interview and expose the names of drug peddlers, confidential health reports and share private chats of deceased. Moreover, they regularly come up with eye-catching, absurd and irrational headlines. They have turned themselves into CBI and NCB officials. Who can suggest/investigate better than these news channels about the next steps? Who can beat these news channels in apprising the audience about the celebrity, politician, investigation agency that will come into the picture next?

Since the Sushant Singh Rajput has died, TV channels have shied away from all the affairs of the country. They have forgotten the nomenclature of Journalism. They have become rudderless. When you say #justiceforSSR, you neglect the fact that there has been no decline in the number of rape cases even during this lockdown. It was reported recently that a 17-year-old girl was brutally raped and killed in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri. A Coronavirus patient was allegedly sexually assaulted by an ambulance driver in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district on the way to a hospital.

God knows how many cases lie unreported. You have forgotten that it took 7 long years to get justice for Nirbhaya. One of the most gruesome rapes in the history of India. Rapists were in jail for 7 years. Let me remind you one of them is scot-free for years now because he was a minor when he committed the crime. He dared to commit such a heinous crime, but no brain to think about the repercussions of his act. Don’t rapes fall under the list of justice?

When you argue with your panellists and say you won’t let this happen to anyone else in this country, you very sweetly turn away your faces with the fact that 20 Jawans were killed in a clash in the Galwan Valley on 15 June. Can you demand justice from the Government for the families who lost their sons, brothers, husbands and children? Can you ask the Government how many families of the martyred have received the compensation amount promised? Can you ask Government why they denied the fact that China had entered the Indian territory? Since May, the border disputes with China have escalated. The situation at the border is festering.

When you say #CBIforSSR, have you forgotten the hardships the migrants and marginalised are facing due to the lockdown? Cast your mind back to the initial phase of the lockdown when thousands of people lost their lives in egregious incidents. Does anybody know how they are earning? Have they become beggars because the compensation promised by the Government remains on paper only? Forget about the compensation; the Government claims to have no data related to the migrant crisis.

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India ranks 140 out of 180 on the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

Would you demand justice for these people too? Or are they born to accept the atrocities and humiliation? Recall the time when our country had imposed one of the stringent lockdowns in the world but has eventually become the second-worst Coronavirus hit nation. And would you ask the Government about the economy going down by 23.9% in the first quarter (Apr—June 2020) itself, the worst downfall of the economy in decades? Can you demand justice for people who lost their loved ones in the communal riots in February when U.S. President Donald Trump was on his visit to India?

The sheer madness being shown on news channels have crossed all the limits. Why don’t you question the Government to provide real data of the people who died due to the Coronavirus, the ones that committed suicide because of loss of the jobs, the people who lost their homes and belongings in floods of Odisha, Bihar and Assam? Why don’t you demand an answer for not holding a question hour in this Parliament Session? Why don’t you show that the penalty of ₹1 paid by advocate-activist Prashant Bushan was absurd? His expression was not a violation of freedom of speech and expression.

Dear Media, 

The list of news is endless. It goes on. It is high time you accept that Sushant Singh Rajput is not the only one that has died in the last 3 months. Lakhs of people die every single day more brutally. However, all those dead people become the number of deaths in Statistical Data of Government only. Justice for Sushant Singh Rajput will not feed people. It will not provide jobs to people. Let the investigative agencies do their work. Please focus on why you are known as the fourth pillar of democracy.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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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