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As A Man, What Can You Do To End Violence Against Women?

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Gender-based violence and violence against women has, no doubt, increased during the pandemic. But why are we surprised? Is it something that we never heard of? The violence and the cases that have increased, and the increasing complaints as compared to previous years, just shows the latent toxic mentality in our society. The pandemic has only revealed how bad situations can get for women.

Who likes to be treated as a sex object, who likes that his/her every action is sexualized and admired? Every decision and every part of their body, mind, and behaviour is fantasized! Woman are also human beings. That people can see them beyond their bodies looks like something impossible at present. But men can change this society, and they have the magic wand to do that.

As a society, we have discussed enough how women face violence and gender disparities, and now we require solutions. Men, women, and the LGBTQ+ community are the part of this society, and to solve such problems we need each one of us to take an active part in fighting toxic mentalities and evil menaces.

Till when will this society tell a woman how she should live? (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

Men can play a big role in fighting violence against women, and why should one hesitate to expect such roles from them? Men are also a part of the society and all of us have to co-exist, so we cannot just ghost one important part of the society.

The pandemic has made women vulnerable to physical, mental, emotional, and economic violence, and we have talked about it a lot. It might seem cliché but if we become empathetic to every woman who faces the violence then one can imagine her pain and then this will not just be a mere article for you!

Every day during the pandemic we’ve come across barbaric reports of rape, of sexual violence at home, and sexual violence outside the home, about abusive in-laws, violent partners, emotionally distressing familial ties and work ties.

We have had enough and now we need action, and if there is no action we need to demand it!

Men as a part of this society can play a huge role in ending violence against women. Yes, it might seem like a utopian ideology but what else are we left with now? The stakeholders are doing their work, the government is doing its best, NGOs are putting in day and night shifts, and the online media organizations are working hard to change society. Still, every morning we get up we see news of a baby girl buried, a woman assaulted, threatened, murdered, and whatnot. We can’s deny the fact that men are good human beings, and as far as toxic mentalities are concerned we can change them.

Imagine if men started correcting other men when they talk about women in a derogatory way? Things will certainly change.

The most important ideology that needs to change is that woman are the ‘weaker sex’. The men who think like this should throw out this patriarchal notion. I feel that this mentality is the basic premise of why a woman gets assaulted. A more conducive environment should be built for a woman in male-dominated industries. Equal pay should be strictly followed as it can help in empowering woman. The mentality that woman is ‘weak’ and just a ‘sex object’ is so deeply entrenched that one would be surprised and should feel sorry for the society!

The most important thing to change when it comes to the treatment of women is to stop listening to “Log kya Kahenge” (what will people say). When a man stops himself from becoming a part of patriarchy, he is called ‘weak’ and his sexuality is questioned. The man is not sick but a society that calls him weak is surely sick.

Gender roles that are attached to the personality of a woman, like being beautiful, fair, thin, soft-spoken, and polite and suppressed should be changed. Believe me, even these characteristics are fantasised about and then sexualized. A human being cannot be perfect. Our society expects a woman to cook food for the family, stay silent in the face of inequality, have every decision taken by the family and accept her life without questioning it!

We have had enough and now we need action, and if there is no action we need to demand it! Image credit: Aasawari Kulkarni/Feminism In India

I feel that pornography and uncensored web series contribute to the menace as well. Men need to realise that it is not reality. Thus, they start thinking that woman like to be laid down forcefully. Obviously, not all are affected and view it as just entertainment but some start enacting those toxic behaviours.

Men can help in calling out sexism, and they need to understand that there is a world for a woman beyond her body. She is dynamic and if you support her and understand her there is a different world waiting for you. When a girl is harassed in the streets men should call it out then and there. When a girl or woman is bullied online for posting her photos, men should call out those perverts. When a girl in school is being harassed, boys should stand up for her.

When a woman is being beaten up in her home her brother should call it out. When a girl is in a relationship with someone she should not be termed as a slut, and when a woman chooses to divorce her partner, her decision to break out of a toxic relation should not be judged. When a little girl is born, let’s not attribute the colour pink to her character. Rather than creating a sustainable environment, what our society is doing is restricting women, restricting their dreams, aspirations, decisions, and policing their behaviour.

The society is foolish if it thinks that restricting women is the solution. Their safety does not come from restrictions. Rather, we are helping the toxic men in creating a barbaric and scary environment which is male-dominated. Stopping a girl from going to college, stopping a little girl from wearing a dress she wants to, preventing a woman from going out late at night and sheltering your daughter at every step is not helping in any way. By restricting women and controlling their behaviour, their existence, and their sexuality we are creating a more sexist, patriarchal, unsustainable, and toxic environment.

Fathers need to understand that every boy your daughter talks to is not her boyfriend, every time she goes out and comes late does not mean she is a slut, and marriage should not be forced on her.

Are you scared you will be made fun of by society for calling out violence against women, get up and stop thinking this way? No one cares what you think, people ultimately do what they want to, so why should you stop helping to create a sustainable environment for women?

Beating women when she goes out for work, beating and fighting with her when she does not serve you food on time, and beating her for talking to any guy in her office or as a friend is not the solution.

Image source: Feminism In India

Humans need to understand the meaning of the word ‘choice’ and ‘freedom’. There is a thing known as life and each one of us have different expectations from it. People can always choose how they should live, what they should do, what they want from life and how they will function.

From every aspect and role, to every profession, women are sexualized, and believe me, it will affect your mind. You will certainly start thinking that way. Don’t become a victim to patriarchy and perverted minds.

It might be cliché but true, when a woman wears short clothes she is not asking for sex, when a woman is with a guy he is not always his boyfriend. Believe me, men and women can be good friends and can have good professional and friendly relations too.

Till when will this society tell a woman how she should live? At some point, there will be a big revolution and I feel it has started already. The time had finally come when we need to dictate these basic tenets to men and expect this from them as well. Is it too much to ask for?

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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)’.

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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.

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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.

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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

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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