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10 Stories From The Ground To Understand The Impact Of COVID-19 On Child Rights

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

2020 was an unprecedented and challenging year. Over the past year, we at Prerana documented our observations, challenges, and the overall situation of child rights and child protection on the ground, based on our field experiences in Mumbai. Here are some of the key stories we shared that can help in understanding the field experiences of working with trafficking and child protection in India in light of COVID-19.

Representational image.

1. Voices From The Field: Counseling In Times Of Coronavirus

A sudden break in the client-counsellor relationship during highly anxious times such as a global pandemic can adversely affect the rapport established between the client and the counsellor. Our counsellor, Priya Ahluwalia, shared her experience of counselling in times of Covid-19.

2. COVID Stories: And Miles to Go Before They eat

A few weeks into the lockdown, some women walked over 30 km to reach our Night Care Center (NCC) in the Kamathipura red-light area, in the hope of finding essential supplies. Azra Qaisar, with inputs from Prerana’s NCC team, shared how people were severely affected due to the lack of essential provisions

3. COVID Stories: What About My Family?

During the time of lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic, many people felt that the safest place for vulnerable children is the Child Care Institutions (CCI) but what happens when a child living in a CCI is concerned about their family’s safety and security during such testing times, asks Prachi Naik from our Institutional Placement Programme team.

4. COVID Stories: Reaching Home – The Struggles Of A Migrant Family

This case, documented by Geetarani Lourembam from our Sentinel Team, brought to light the fate of workers who have migrated to Mumbai but are rendered absolutely helpless amid the lockdown. The pandemic has affected the dignity and self-respect of many by making them depend on relief material for survival. The failure of state systems at various levels are adding to their woes. In this blog, we share the story of a family trying to reach their home state from Mumbai.

5. From Ashram School To Being Stranded In A Field – Reema’s Story

The sudden announcement of lockdown had led to a crisis in the lives of many, and Reema’s case highlights how it affected people even in areas with seemingly few cases of COVID-19, writes Amrapali Mukherjee from our Sanmaan team.

6. Covid Stories: Amplified Risks To Victims Of Inter-Generational Prostitution

The vulnerabilities of victims of inter-generational prostitution concerns are further increased during a global crisis, making girls like Abhilasha quite vulnerable in the current situation, writes Aaheli Gupta from our Sentinel team.

7. Covid Stories:  Does Relief Material Actually Reach Those In Need?

This case, documented by Rashmi Taylor from our ATC team, highlights the need to ensure that relief material reaches those that are actually in need. Despite the crisis, in some places, people in positions of power were still depriving people of essential services.

Representational image.

8. Covid Stories: Missing Milestones – Stories Of Disfranchised Grief

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown altered the way grief was seen and experienced. At the present time, parents and caregivers are not only grieving the loss of their jobs and financial security but also the loss of their autonomy, personal space, daily interactions, and missed milestones. Here are a few stories, documented by Priya Ahlwaulia, that illustrate this thought.

9. Covid Stories: Building Support Systems For A Child After Restoration: Neema’s Story

Neema entered the juvenile justice system in 2019, as a child in need of care and protection. After being restored to her family, she was sexually assaulted in 2020. This case, by Geetarani Lourembam, highlights how social workers can work with a child, despite the physical distance to ensure the child’s safety and build support systems.

10. Covid Stories: When Empowerment Is An Illusion – Navigating Patriarchy At Home

As stakeholders working with young women, it is important that we understand the structures in which these young women are existing. One of the most common ways in which structures adapt is by providing an illusion of choice and progression in specific situations. Priya Ahluwalia from our Sentinel team shares her observations and the impact of COVID-19 on those situations.

This blog was first published here. For more such stories, check our anti-trafficking centre’s blog to know more about human trafficking and child rights in India.

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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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