This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Aulina Pandey. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Dear Indian Media, I Have A Brain That Can Think On Its Own, Thanks

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For the longest time, the image of a journalist was similar to that of an activist. A person wearing a kurta, a jhola, specs and asking the hard questions. As time progresses, one would expect that such an image would only get better and as more people come out of fancy journalism schools and colleges where ‘Journalistic Ethics’ is a core course, it would lead to the creation of powerful media outlets who ask real questions.

But lately, the graph of progress has been on a fast-moving downward slope. Journalists and the media have been adopting the role of the police, the law, the lawmakers, the judge and the judiciary. What is going on?

The type of aggressive journalism, harassment and almost stalker-like tactics adopted by the Indian media to feed to the ideal minds of people behind screens is shameful and disturbing.

Credits: @Satishacharya/Representational image.

Instead of quality reporting and well-researched facts derived from official documents and experts, the opinions and thoughts of people are what constitutes the media today. Any profession in the world has a standard of ethics that need to be followed. These code of ethics are put in place to prevent the chaotic and the ugly side of an investigation from the public eye.

Suppose A murdered B. If upon receiving the information, people with no authority start investigating, passing loud flashing judgement, involve A’s neighbours and ask them what they think of his character, start brutal campaigns without all the facts in hand, the media would not only be undermining the authority of the police and the law but also grossly violating the basic human rights of A, who is innocent until proven guilty.

Suicide is disturbing. When someone you know, love, respect or and relate to passes away, we desperately look for closure and answers. It is very difficult to understand what makes a person take such a drastic step to end their life. It is natural to feel frustration and anxiety but holding another person responsible without any basis or evidence is a burden you don’t want on yourself. You can’t make someone feel responsible for someone’s death based on no real evidence because that accusation is unfair on so many levels.

Without knowing, you might become a part of the same group that condemns people or passes judgments for being a woman, being gay, lesbian, transgender, Bengali, Marathi, black, brown, urban or rural.

We have so many issues to address on the media today like: the negative GDP, unemployment, farmer suicides, India-China war, climate change, rising corona-virus cases. Answers, accountability and investigation into the political protests and situations that dispersed on the Citizenship Amendment Act and the Delhi riots, genocide of Muslim minorities in China, loss of jobs and life, environmental degradation, loss of livelihood in the rural areas, collapse of the public healthcare system, attack on the freedom to speech and expression, authoritative orders of the judiciary, violation of human rights in Kashmir, the negligent manner of implementing police investigations, mental health crises, discrimination based on caste, race, religion and ethnicity instead we are conducting lousy media trials.

As a citizen of India my expectation from the media is this: Do not to tell me what to think and who to support. My expectation for the media is to provide me with an impartial, unbiased and truthful wealth of information that I can use to form my own opinions and thoughts and have my own take. I have a brain that can form its own connections, thanks.

Featured image: @mirsuhail/Instagram

This is far from reality. What I see on every media platform as you read this, is just a lot of shouting, screaming, huffing and puffing young journalists chasing people in cars, the infamous vilifying of Bengali women as witches and crushing the remaining shred of dignity of the dead. To add on to that, we have become a joke in front of the international community. We act as though the only people watching are us yet there is an entire world out there with their eyes on us who can see us making a fool of ourselves by letting these biased, sexist and outright unethical media houses act this way.

As a regular consumer of content published on international media, I have noticed the peculiar behaviour of the Indian media. We believe that all we need from the people behind the screens is to think. Just think. Think before you form opinions, think before you mock or threaten someone on social media, think before you accept information and pass it on, think and think hard. Apply logic, reasoning and common sense. It is not that hard to see the dirty and brutal turn journalism has taken when you take off the veil of hatred, anger and confusion, and take a minute to consider the facts.

We need to be extremely mindful of the kind of society and the future we want to live in. We are at crossroads now, we could either head towards an authoritarian self-reliant society that believes in patriarchy and supremacy of a select few. And believe in the person who is the head of the state for his charisma rather than the principles he follows. Or we could take the path of acceptance, education, information, technology, international relations and cooperation, mutual trust and development and deal with the issues that we face as human beings rather than as disconnected groups.

I, for one, really hope we choose the latter.

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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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