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The State Of Human Rights In India

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Every human being is born with rights solely for the fact that they’re human beings. No individual has the right to violate these rights of their fellow citizens. These rights were formerly referred to as Natural Rights in the sixteen hundred by English philosopher John Locke. They are moral principles or norms that are regularly protected by the government.

India being such a huge country has a great history of human rights violation. Even though a democracy, speaking against high ranked officials and powerful ministers have always stripped people of their basic rights. Harassing journalist, prosecuting activists and human rights defenders are just a few of the cases that come to light. No accountability of past cases that stay buried under the the bills of the powerful, even when new allegations of extrajudicial killings and torture are on the rise.

Kashmir has seen constant violence for more than 3 decades now.

In 2018, 32 policemen were killed by militants in South Kashmir. In retaliation for the arrest of the relatives of the militants, 11 relatives of several policemen were kidnapped. A 17-year-old boy was killed by them under the suspicion that he was a police informer. Reports released on these issues by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights were dismissed by the government saying “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”.

Many such human rights violations have also been reported in Kashmir against the Indian military after the Pulwama Attack in 2019. The allegations include the killing of any civilian seen as a threat or under the suspicion of terrorism, sexual abuse and raping of women civilians and suppression of freedom of speech.

Many mob attacks are registered on religious minorities, marginalised communities and critics of
the government. Moreover, being the leaders of a secular state, some senior BJP leaders publicly support mob attacks and make inflammatory speeches against minorities and promote Hindu supremacy, encouraging attacks on innocent civilians.

After the formation of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, 63 people died in alleged extrajudicial killings by state police between March 2017 and August 2018 highlighting the lack of accountability for police abuse and the need for police reform.

Displacement of the tribal people because of mining, dams and other infrastructural projects still continues to plague human rights activists. Detainment of activists for sedition, describing police abuse against protesters and arresting a folk singer for singing in a protest meeting criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi are parts of the hundreds of cases against freedom of speech and expression.

Women have always been in the worst position when it comes to oppression and deprivation of opportunities. Numerous cases of rape across the country expose the failure of the country’s judicial system. Lack of witnesses and victim protection laws make the girls and women more vulnerable to threats and harassment. The #MeToo movement has become a sensation. Numerous women have come up and shared their accounts of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace on their social media. These are a few instances of human rights violations all over India which have been marked.

Apart from these violations, there have also been cases of restoration. In 2014, the Supreme Court of India protected the rights and freedoms of the transgender people under the Constitution and also decriminalised adult consensual same-sex relationships in September 2018.

The past decade has seen significant progress, if not enough, for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Also, the government passed an ordinance introducing capital punishment for those who are convicted of raping a girl child under 12 years of age, though that did not lessen the number of rape cases. Still, child trafficking, child labour and poor access to education for children from economically marginalized communities remain issues of serious concern.

This period of lockdown has still not decreased the violation of human rights. To enforce the lockdown and make it more successful, police forces have been assigned and those who are found on the streets have been in some cases physically beaten as well.

Simultaneously, millions of migrant workers who were promised food and shelter by the government were not given those amenities and forced to return to their own respective states. Due to the shut down of public transport they resorted to walking their journey home without food, proper clothes and even shoes. Many died on their journey back due to exhaustion and starvation while others died on the rail tracks cleaved by the trains as they rested on the tracks.

Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons
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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, 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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