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Humanity Died Alongside The Young Hathras Victim

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*Trigger Warning*

I don’t how to express the anguish and pain towards the gruesome act that happened to a young daughter of our nation in Hathras, but as I received an email from the editor of YKA, I gathered my courage to portray all the emotions that were looming in my mind. Hopefully, I do justice to this piece of writing.

It’s been days since I have stopped watching the news, and just two days back I was scrolling through YouTube and came across the Mojo channel video with the caption “Another Nirbhaya”. And when I watched the video it brought jitters to me. And then followed a series of videos related to the case and each video horrified the inner me.

As a human and particularly as a woman, I felt weak and shaken by the horrendous act done to the young girl. I felt numb and didn’t know how to react. A teary-eyed me questioned myself that every degree, notion of development or such materialistic virtues are hollow if we don’t have the nerve to be human first.

To proceed further, I would admit that I am not here to begin the rant (I say “rant” as for years we have been screaming at our loudest whenever such violent crimes happen and then everything seems to be forgotten until the next incident). I am here to weave my emotions and leave the post with certain feelings which I believe many would connect to.

The gory case is a clear example of exertion of power and this has many layers. It is the game of power over multiple identities, i.e. caste and gender. This is the land of an ancient civilisation where worship of female Gods happens in full swing, but when such wolves pounce on women, why do they forget that she’s the form of Durga or Kaali. This is the year when we laid the foundation of Ram Mandir. Lord Rama (Maryada Purshottam) established the Ram Rajya. But does Ram Rajya exist? Lord Ram fought a battle for the dignity of his wife. But as a state and nation, why are we failing as humans?

The victim was allegedly cremated by policemen and her family and relatives were locked-up in their homes

What was more dehumanising after the incident was depriving the family of conducting the final rites of their daughter. The Hindu Dharma lays down certain practices regarding the final rites. But when the dignity of the departed soul was mocked by the vardidhari rakshak and the babus of the system, where was humanity? Forget about the rituals, why did the system stoop so low that it took away the fundamental rights of the family and didn’t hesitate to be the barbarians. The culprits aren’t those alleged rapists alone, but the system that failed humans.

Talking of the present scenario, the way the boundaries of the district were sealed and the victim’s family was locked in their own homes amidst the pressure of the administration to shut their mouths shows the murder of humanity. One murder was committed on 14 September when the brutal act happened to the innocent young girl and another murder of democracy and humanity is being done by silencing the voices of the victim’s kin.

So many news videos have surfaced where the system can be seen denying the alleged incident of rape of the young girl. I felt dead within. Where are we living? Most politicians are not bothered about the pain of the family and the departed soul of the young girl and are just politicising the event. Is giving a Sarkari Naukri, cash and house in the district the price of dignity and pride of the woman? Do all these materialistic benefits fill the void created by the tormenting act?

Forget about politics for a moment, just empathise and feel the pain of the family and think of the young girl who might have dreamt of so many things, but failed to bloom because of the evil demons who devoured her dignity.

On 2 October when the nation celebrated the birthday of Gandhiji who preached tolerance, I take a departure from that tolerance philosophy with regards to women as I believe that violence against women has already crossed the threshold. Why teach tolerance? Why preach to our daughters to be silent and not raise our voices? Why do we live in such hypocrisy where we worship Durga or Lakshmi and can’t tolerate the respect and power of women living in our close spaces? If tolerance has to be highlighted then it needs to be practised by those men who can’t take women as equal partners.

Why do only women have to pay the price? Be it Drauphadi of Mahabharat or Sita Ma of Ramayana? Why are we divided even as women? Why does a woman remain silent when her son or husband or brother tortures another female?

Above all, this remains the central theme of humanity, the compassion and kindness which should kindle in our hearts. We should see the human first, and in this case, see her as a woman; the form of Ma Shakti we are going to worship. With what face are we going to celebrate this Navratri when the daughters aren’t spared? Several thoughts keep on lingering, and with this, I pause here.

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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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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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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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