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Hathras: Enough With The Hashtags, It’s Time To Get Real

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Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault, Rape, Caste-Based Violence.

In another inhumane incident of a heinous gang-rape, a 19-year old woman from Hathras, Uttar Pradesh succumbed to her grievous injuries on September 29 at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital after fighting for her life for two weeks.

The 19-year old girl was assaulted and allegedly raped by four upper-caste men from her own village in Hathras on September 14. She had sustained several injuries, including multiple fractures, a spinal injury, and a deep cut to her tongue. After battling for two weeks, she finally succumbed to her injuries on September 29.

The brutality did not stop there, the officials who have the basic responsibilities to protect the laws, to find the culprit, and to punish them also seemed to behave in the most ‘inhumane’ way possible. Late Tuesday night, around 2:20 am, the police officials her body of the woman in a seemingly desperate cover-up attempt, without the permission of the family, the family accused. Videos of the police cremating the body were also circulated on social media, which ignited rage among the netizens.

Following the outrage, the District Magistrate of Hathras reportedly spoke to the victim’s family. A video is currently going viral on social media where the DM, Praveen Kumar Laxka, is heard saying, “Do not finish your credibility. These media people… some left today and tomorrow more will leave. Only we will be here with you. Ok? It is up to you whether you want to change your statement or not. We can also change.” The family has also alleged “threats and pressure” from him. Look at the video:

However, Mr Laxkar had denied the family’s allegation saying, “I met with six family members yesterday and we spoke for about an hour and a half. I met with them again today to see their point of discontent. I deny the negative rumours about my interactions with them. Their main worry is that the accused must be hanged. I tried to reassure them and told them that the matter would be tried in a fast track court.”

In another twist in the case, ADG claims that there is no evidence of rape.

People who are questioning the police and protesting are being dragged from the roads. The case has intensified protests across the country.

 

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29th & 30th September. The India you are so proud of, is one of the most, if not THE most, pathetic, morally dead and rotten countries there are. Upper-Caste perpetrators like Thakurs get impunity due to their caste and political support, while on the other hand, the courts die a horrible death yet again as they protect the Hindutva terrorists. (If all the proof out there is not enough in itself, they were found contradicting their own statements at multiple occasions, sometimes using the accusations for political gain) The Indian state thrives on oppression and injustice, and muzzling every voice which tries to fight it. Be it any party in power. Rage, helplessness and grief is all that most felt looking at her father sitting in disbelief at Safdarjung. What happened after that, is no secret, and gets worse with every detail. While the privileged, after they are done occupying all spaces of the oppressed, will move on with their pathetic empty lives, living in their bubbles with their dead conscience, all the outrage will amount to nothing if the fight is not taken to the streets while demanding accountability from the system that led to this, and that enables many such heinous crimes. Today as people came out to the streets to fight for justice, the Delhi police not only detained each one of them and made sure they are not heard, they brutally beat up protestors and shoved them in buses and vans, trying to intimidate them as always (and failing, as always) with their rotten khakhi uniforms and guns, making it clear that not only is their job itself to protect the criminals at top, they very well subscribe to that mentality as well. This is the time to use your priviledge on the ground, not on your social media accounts as you lay in comfort. The ones who said “No Justice No Peace” during the BLM movement, it’s time to follow it on the streets of this country. Resist their attempts to crush dissent and voices raised for justice. Organize and fight. Stand with the Dalit community. #justiceformanishavalmiki #hathras #castesim #nojusticenopeace

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Now, the District Administration imposed Section 144 in Hathras and has banned the entry of all ‘outsiders’. Within 24 hours, a 22-year old was raped in Balrampur, an 8-year old was raped in Azamgarh, and another 14-year old met the same fate in Bulandshahar. You will find such incidents anywhere if you will put your finger on UP’s map. Do people have no fears of UP’s law or do they also play the caste game?

A large section of the social media users started using the same hashtag trend but the question remains the same: What really has changed? Nothing. However, India is waking up and now we demand a strict law to protect the women. The law must be so strict that they would not even dare to think of it. Nirbhaya’s case only got ‘resolved’ after a long journey of seven years, even when the ‘proof’ was there. How long will this take?

It’s time to ask the government for more speedy trial court for rape victims. They can result in the reduction of rape cases against women. Sex education and treating women respectfully are another need in India. I feel that song lyrics and movies which project women as objects are another issue that leads to a certain mindset among boys.

Just using hashtags will not be enough, and we need to do something, I feel. What is the use of such a ‘high-standard society’ when we can not even walk alone in our own area?

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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.

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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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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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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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