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Hathras Repugnance: Has Anything Really Changed from 2012 to 2020?

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Who should be responsible if a flower gets plucked, thrown, and crushed? Should it be a plucker or crusher? No, don’t you dare to blame it on them (who mercilessly, recklessly, inhumanly pluck and throw it), rather blame it on the flower itself for getting bloomed beautifully. No? Why not? I’ve been seeing this for ages (since 2012, and nothing has changed yet).

From the 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder to the 2020 Hathras gang rape, has anything really changed? Not really!

In the book named “The Beauty Myth,” the author Naomi Wolf writes, ‘Beauty provokes harassment, the law says, but it looks through men’s eyes when deciding what provokes it.’  True that no? It’s always been about the rapists’ eyes, mentality, mindset, and thoughts. ALWAYS! It is not restricted to clothes, caste, religion, city, or whatsoever; the rape happens as much among the poor, rural, illiterates as among the rich, urban, and the so-called elites. Rapists (and biggies, including ministers and judges) have all sorts of excuses and justifications for this sinful act.

The Hathras Incident

On September 14, 2020, a 19-year-old girl from Hathras was brutally raped and murdered by four men. It didn’t stop there; it is claimed that the culprits even broke her spinal cord, gouged her eyes, and cut off her tongue during the rape. She was later cremated by the police, while the helpless, distraught family was locked up in their house, begging to see her one last time. The police poured petrol and kerosene to bring up the flames and burnt her into a cinder. The family also alleged that the police cremated the body forcefully against their wishes. 

Hathras Repugnance: Has Anything Really Changed from 2012 to 2020?
Representational Image

On top of that, Hathras case UP Police officials even forced grieving parents to cremate the body overnight saying, ” I am from Rajasthan, in our culture, we don’t keep the body for long. Baaki sab aap dekh lijiye (rest is up to you).” The victim’s brother said, “My father had almost fainted and was lying on a charpoy here when the cremation took place, the person at the site of the cremation was someone else.” 

The police reportedly told the family, “Aap log maaniye ki aap logon se bhi galti hui hai” (you should accept that you too have done some wrongs.) Besides, The District Magistrate told the family that the “media will leave in 2-3 days,” it is up to them to change the statement.

Thoughts

When I read about this case a few days back, honestly speaking, the gruesome details left my conscience shaken. When I read about the brutality and injuries on the girl’s body, I was mortally scared of imagining the incident. The pain is beyond what you and I can even imagine. You call it RAPE? No, I can’t call it that. I call it MURDER, a brutal murder of humanity, innocence, dreams, justice, and a precious gift this world had. I rather call it inhumanly toying with a body, not thinking that there’s a soul that wanted to live, that wanted to achieve something. I want to understand (really bad) why the culprits don’t look deep within while committing such a heinous crime. Don’t they feel agony thinking what if something like this had happened to their friend, girlfriend, sister, daughter, and mother? 

That being said, I don’t get why she was too being named Nirbhaya. Nirbhaya AFAIK means fearless, right? Is any woman in this country fearless? How can they be after seeing all this? Isn’t it strange that in a country where people burn people in the name of religion, inauspiciousness if one touches a cow, but if a girl gets touched, she gets burned? And I am not getting why people are including caste into this? Rape is rape; the assault trauma feels the same irrespective of religion, caste, color, and all this crap. Rape has nothing to do with the caste; it is the apparent destruction of a human’s consent, no?

“Due to all these, men who don’t rape women are considered special, men who don’t cheat are considered special, men that treat women with equality are considered special, men who cook and take care of her wife and kids are considered special, but if you see it normally, this is what a normal man should be like, no? But the current scenario has compelled us all to think this way.” Strange!

The Problem and the Solution

The causes, they give us: You’re outspoken, you’re friendly, you’ve so many guy friends, you dress provocatively, you roam alone at night, you drink too much, you party more, you do this, you do that! 

The solution they give: Don’t step outside after it’s dark, don’t be dominant, watch yourself (your actions, your dress), walk rightly (I don’t know what it really means, seriously), don’t invite attention, carry pepper spray, learn self-defense, carry a rape whistle, and more.

The REAL cause: Sick mindset, lack of public safety, victim stigmatizing, encouraging rapists with ‘PROVOKING’ speeches, asking rape victims to compromise, legal loopholes, and more.

The REAL solution should be: Teach men the difference between ‘He raped her’ and ‘She’s been raped’ that’s it!

Some blame it on food, some blame it on unemployment, and if nothing works, they blame it on women. 

You know what!

STOP BLAMING IT ON OTHERS, ASK MEN TO BE MEN FIRST (OR AT LEAST HUMANS)!

Will Something Ever Happen? Will This Ever Change?

Let me hit you with a harsh truth – People say that ‘enough with candle marches, speeches, tweets, and hashtags, it’s time to get real but deep within, we all know that nothing has really changed. Nothing has really changed from 2012 (Jyoti gang rape case) to 2020 (Hathras gang rape case). 

We often hope things will change, but hoping things will change won’t change a thing, our actions will. Rather than just hoping, let’s teach men the meaning of respect, consent, and the difference between right and wrong, and most importantly, the difference between: “HE RAPED HER and SHE HAS BEEN RAPED.”

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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 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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