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“Apna Camera On Karo”: No, Dear Teachers, I Don’t Feel Comfortable

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Hello readers, this is a frustrating piece of writing by a frustrated student who is frustrated by a socially and institutionally privileged so-called teacher. That Online classes educate us is a myth.

An online class is just a formality to give education. Here, everything is a formality. Teachers teach for formality and students like me study for formality. For me, it’s just a frustrating and negotiating teaching process.

Representative Image.

I have been depressed since the first day of online classes. At this time, I am struggling to type this.

The issue that I have faced since the second semester of my course. There’s a teacher (I don’t know if he is a teacher or not; he teaches us in a way as if someone forced him to become a teacher) who forces all of us to open our cameras during the class. And for me, in the initial days, this was amusing.

But he continued to force all of us to open our cameras. There’s a simple reason I do not open my camera and show my face — because I am not comfortable with it. Why can’t a teacher not even try to understand this?

Everyone can’t be comfortable. They don’t want to show their face. Why can’t you understand this? There’s no rocket science there. You don’t have to struggle to understand this, do you?

Let us take an example to understand the situation. The room in which I study is not a single room. I have to share it with my siblings. They aren’t interested in studies, rather are more interested in entertainment (and there’s nothing wrong with this).

Whenever they enter the room, they start to laugh or to talk to me. They do it even when I am not comfortable with it. And when I start to retaliate, they end up saying, “I know how much you study! You are just pretending to study, but you are not.”

For the sake of god, I want to cry at the top of my voice, but I can’t.

Now I have five classes, approximately one hour each. I have to look at my mobile phone continuously and put earphones in my ear. At last, I end up being a sad person at night.

Despite this, I have to cover the things which are covered in class with extra time. I have been continuously staring at my phone for almost 9–10 hours. At last, I end up being exhausted.

online study anxiety
Representative Image.

Talking about teachers, one of them said they were not comfortable looking at the blank screen continuously and teaching. We students didn’t pressure them to switch on their video.

Hey, listen, if you are a teacher, you have to understand this basic thing and respect the comfort zone of your students. And if you can, do help them overcome this. Don’t put pressure on them.

Things got worse in one of my classes today. That so-called teacher asked us to switch on our videos or he would dismiss us from class. So some of the students switched on their video and those who couldn’t were dismissed from class. And it’s a depressing thing for me because I was also a victim.

There exist many reasons why they did not switch on their camera. Unfortunately, everyone is not as technologically privileged as some students are. One of the issues is that if they switch their camera on, more data will be consumed and they won’t be able to attend another class.

Others live in villages and because of the summer heat can’t always wear a shirt. Classes could be attended only in audio form. And there’s one common and the most important thing: I am not comfortable with this, Sir!

Here’s the amusing and equally disturbing thing he said: “I am taking classes so passionately and you students don’t care about this. You all are not attentive in class. Show your face until I am in class so that I can always check what you are doing.”

Dear Sir, we are students studying at a prestigious university and we are here because we all want to study as passionately as you teach us. In this morbid situation, we are all going through some mental issues along with our studies. We are all trying to be better. We are all dealing with psychosocial and psychological issues.

So, be supportive and kind. Educational institutions are already disturbed by unemotional people.

Dear Teachers, I was in extreme pain when I was dismissed from class. I was continuously searching for a person to feel relieved, and fortunately or unfortunately, I ended up writing this.

If you are reading this, please consider the dignity of your students. Don’t treat us bad. Show some empathy towards us. Don’t be a preacher, be a friend.

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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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