This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Anonymous Reporter. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Free Access To Healthcare? Not For Dalits And Gender Minorities In India

More from Anonymous Reporter

Being an Indian, it is shameful and poignant to say that Indians do not get free access to healthcare even today. Even in the twenty-first century, healthcare in India has been largely in favor of the privileged; the marginalized and disenfranchised gender and caste identities in India are discriminated against in the healthcare sectors to a large extent.

How many times have we seen that poor Dalits have been denied proper medicines and medical attention in the villages and even in the so-called egalitarian metropolitan cities of India? Movies like “Article 15” do give us a blurred picture of what happens in the lives of untouchables but there is more than what meets the eye.

Image Credit: aif.org

The Situation For Caste And Gender Minorities

It is indeed true that Indians are known for their superstitions that stinks of the casteism they bear with them everywhere they go. Certainly, even the primary healthcare sectors that are customary necessities in a human’s life, are also littered by caste discriminations in many parts of India. Dalit patients are given the poorest medical facilities, while the non- Dalits and upper castes are given more consultations and better medicines (George 2015).

Social health activists were the group of people designated by the Manmohan Singh government who acted as community health workers with a mission to eradicate discrimination in the healthcare sector and see to it that all Indians receive the necessary healthcare they deserve (Dasgupta and Qadeer 2005).  Even though the Accredited Social health activists were able to fight corruption, improve immunization, and enhanced maternity care in many parts of India, yet there are miles to go for an all-over development of healthcare sectors in India.

In Uttar Pradesh, untouchability is practiced in such an intense way that many community health workers are often denied or discriminated against in giving healthcare facilities to pregnant Dalit women leading the mothers to give birth to children without the presence of expert health workers/ midwives. Such actions are dangerous for the mother as well as the child, especially in case of complexities in labor.

Rape cases in rural areas of India are seldom reported. Moreover, when Dalit women are raped, such incidents are not reported at all. Rape victims belonging to the “untouchable” category are denied medical attention and justice. Community health workers sometimes find themselves in a difficult position amidst the regressive and inhuman subcultures of untouchability and misogyny. Often the community health workers who show dissent attitude towards the injustice fall prey to the ogling eyes of the treacherous political leaders who are often the support behind such injustice.

It would be disgraceful to know that Dalit women and children (especially the girl child) have a low nutritional status due to their low social and economic status in the households. The Lady Health volunteers and community health workers are, however, paying fewer visits to the households of malnutrition children and impoverished pregnant mothers, broadly belonging to the Scheduled Castes categories (Downtoearth.org.in.2015).

Such inhuman discriminatory practices in healthcare sectors by the community healthcare workers are disturbing. The discrimination is mainly done by the front-line staff of the community health workers who generally belong to the general categories and tend to be prejudiced with casteist mentality. The most important outcome of the various researches that have been done is that the community health workers themselves are not freed from casteist prejudices and mentality.

Social Health Workers

Image Credit: Times Of India

Why is then the accredited social health workers and activists do not give the desired results to the government? What can be the reasons for such unprofessionalism? The reasons are way too complicated and perturbing. Social health workers often face dangers in their workplace. Every Indian has gone through the poignant news of a Mumbai-based nurse Aruna Shaunbag’s treacherous rape and assaults in the hospital itself where she worked that left her completely in a vegetative state till she attained the age of 66 and took the reward of death, euthanasia. It indicates that social health workers are not safe in their work areas.

Many community health workers struggle to meet their ends because they are denied their deserved salaries (Timesofindia.com.2015). Many are overworked and underpaid. If the government sees to it that the ASHA (Accredited Social Health Workers) workers are given a proper salary, working conditions, and respect in the society, we might see improvements in rural healthcare sectors. The ASHA workers are the rays of hope for a country like India that is often plagued by health crises. It is high time that the nation recognizes the healthcare needs of the country and shapes the health sector in a flexible way for a better future.

References:

Dasgupta, R. and Qadeer, I., 2005. The national rural health mission (NRHM): a critical overview. Indian J Public Health, 49(3), pp.138-40.

Downtoearth.org.in.(2015). Available at: https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/dalits-and-nutrition-where-is-the-catch-up-45263

George, S., 2015. Caste and Care: Is Indian Healthcare Delivery System Favourable for Dalits?. Institute for Social and Economic Change.

Hrw.org.(2007). Available at: https://www.hrw.org/report/2007/02/12/hidden-apartheid/caste-discrimination-against-indias-untouchables

Timesofindia.com.(2015). Available at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vijayawada/Vijayawada-Municipal-Corporations-Asha-workers-losing-hope/articleshow/47610545.cms

You must be to comment.

More from Anonymous Reporter

Similar Posts

By ginju mathew

By Sanjana Acharya

By Jaimine

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below