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No, The #MeToo Movement Isn’t About ‘Targeting Powerful Men’

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TW: Rape, sexual assault.

We have heard of many national historical movements, but one national movement which has been around since 2017 is the #MeToo movement. The #MeToo movement was actually founded a decade ago by Tarana Burke, an activist in the USA.

I feel that largely, the idea and concept of #MeToo has been misunderstood all over the world. People think that the #MeToo can only be used by women, that it is a term to define that a woman has/had countered molestation or rape. Unfortunately, this is not the only meaning of the #MeToo movement. It holds a lot more, which Ms. Tarana Burke had actually introduced and tried to reach out to the world. Many of us have made the effort to hear her plea and many just assumed the case.

Image source: Feminism In India

According to the founder Tarana Burke, the actual meaning of the #MeToo movement is that it was a term introduced to empathize with the victim of molestation irrespective of gender. It is not a term that only a woman can use, in fact, all men and people who identify with all genders are equally eligible to use this term. We have the self-made notion that only women use this term to protest against the strong, powerful men to put them down. This hypothetical assumption is absolutely wrong, no men or women use this term to bring down the reputation of the other.

             “#MeToo Means Accessing The Healing Process” 

I feel that the term has been used and misused, understood and misunderstood by most people across the whole world. Most importantly the social media these days are flooding with such terms and such molestation cases but barely any of us have any concrete idea about when the term must be used.

Birth of #MeToo Movement

The birth of this movement was to raise the voice for the black women who have gone through the trauma of sexual violence. Many people or rather many men have questioned, “Why to bring up such memories several years after facing the incident?” I would like to point out those that if you understand the meaning of the term then you would understand that #MeToo is a term for empathy and not sympathy.

#metoo movement

The fact is that some girls or women have also faced physical assault even before they knew that they were being assaulted. But now they can raise their voices against what they had faced in the past because now they know that whatever they have gone through was wrong then and they did not have the courage to speak then.

Women Are Strong But They Lack a Voice

It is really sad that a large part of the female in various interior parts of the world still fails to raise their voices against such brutal actions. In villages of Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and various other states women are not even aware that they can file complaints against such giants.

Very recently we have come across cases where male family members or relatives have also molested girls and women of the family. Such women think that bringing up such issues publicly will hurt their self-respect and image but sadly they do not realize that not encountering is also compromising with their own self.

#metoo movement

The problem of speaking up about molestation does not only prevails with the village, unprivileged women. Many women face molestation in some form or the other in their daily life and workplaces. In fact, domestic violence is also a part of the molestation but we fail to bring those events up. Women in the fear of losing jobs compromise their self-respect in workplaces and keep up with the molestation they counter.

The misunderstood term, #MeToo movement is to stand by the men and women who have faced sexual violence in the past have not been able to confront it to others for many many years. The expansion of the term #MeToo has made it possible to make a national conversation around the world for people, irrespective of their gender, and their gender choices.

This movement has been misused by many thinking that it is a weapon to target powerful men, but it is certainly not about that. In fact, this movement is just to allow a person to heal after such trauma. This is the least we can do as a civilized set of creatures that we can stand by the ones that need to heal themselves after facing such violence.

Results Of The #MeToo Movement

This movement is also about, “radical community healing” – all the people of the same community must come together to protest against the wrong and also to heal themselves. As a result of this movement, outcomes have arrived as expected, 1. Empowerment of Empathy and 2. Radical Community Healing.

Empowerment Of Empathy

When two people exchange the term #MeToo it denotes that one says to the other, “I hear you, I see you and I believe you” and then starts the healing process. #Metoo is not just a movement, it is an emotion that a lot of people can connect with very easily.

Radical Community Healing Process

#metoo movement

As we already mentioned that it was a movement that was introduced by the black women who have repeatedly been attacked in the sexual agenda. All the black women in the community decided to stand strong against this process so that together they could raise their voices. But now it is no longer limited to just the black women, it is relevant for every man and woman of all communities who go through the same.

Unfortunately, the percentage of women facing this issue is much higher than men’s. The ultimate aim of this movement is to teach people how to eradicate sexual violence. This national movement #MeToo will help us to get together under the same umbrella to say “NO.” “It is high time now, we should STOP telling women how to stop being raped, and START telling men how to respect women.”

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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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