#PadsAgainstSexism campaign at Jamia Milia, Delhi
Sanitary pad with message against sexism on Jamia campus
19-year-old Elona Kastrati started the #PadsAgainstSexism campaign in her hometown of Karlsruhe, Germany.
“I thought about how society gets offended by a normal pad. I thought about it so much, the idea came to me to write quotes on them,” she says. So she did.
Since starting her guerrilla project about a week ago, pictures of Elona’s pads have gone viral. Students of Jamia picked up on the idea too, and initially anonymously, began to stick sanitary pads with feminist messages on them, all across Jamia campus.
Some of the messages read:
“Period blood is not impure, your thoughts are.”
“Menstruation is natural, rape is not.”
“Streets of Delhi belong to women too.”
“Rapists rape people, not outfits.”
“Kanya Kumari, Gandi soch tumhari.”
According to their statement reproduced below, the pads were torn down by the university administration. In solidarity, the campaign spread to Delhi University too.
A couple of days ago, the Jamia students decided to shed their anonymity and came out with a statement. Jamia Journal says that what led them to go public was
the fact that their anonymity had led to the publication of inaccurate, and at times outright false, views ascribed to them and the campaign in the media. In order to end this confusion, they decided it was time to make themselves known to the public and let the people know who actually speaks for the campaign.
Here is the text of their statement, taken from Jamia Journal.
Jamia Student Activists Statement to the Press
We, the initiators of Pads Against Sexism- Delhi, have agreed to reveal our identities due to the fact that our anonymity has led to many false interviews about the movement being given to several different media outlets by individuals not directly associated with the campaign. We would like to reveal ourselves in order to end the confusion of who is responsible for this initiative so that no fabricated statements are assigned as our ideology.
We would like to first and foremost address the act of putting up sanitary pads in Jamia Millia Islamia and them being taken down.
We acknowledge we had not asked for permission from the University Administration to place the sanitary pads with messages on them around the campus. Due to the lack of permission we respect the action of Jamia Guards pulling down the sanitary pads as they were only adhering to the rules and regulations of our esteemed University. We understand that this in no way reflects on how Jamia Millia Islamia University feels about sexism in India and hope that any and all individuals will not associate this action with the ideology of Jamia Millia Islamia. We had the opportunity to speak with one of the guards who removed the sanitary pads and were able to discover he was a strong supporter of the message of anti rape culture and an end to stigma attached to menstruation. Once again he was helpless as it was us who did not seek permission for our actions.
We would like to highlight the fact that our campaign is meant to be a peaceful one to spread awareness against sexism. We did not mean to intentionally offend anyone, only to create conversation and debate within our college campus related to rape culture and stigma attached to menstruation. We have taken our campaign off-campus and onto the streets of Delhi to spread awareness. Our major reason for requesting anonymity was so that we could allow the general public to view and react to this campaign without placing a face to the campaign. We did not recreate this initiative in Delhi for attention, only for awareness and as a way to push forward the conversation and debate of gender equality and anti rape culture in India.
We closely monitored the reactions of the public on the many different articles that were published all across social media to see the thought process of the general public. We discovered most negative responders believed this initiative to have been started by hardcore “feminazis” and men haters. We request those individuals and those who didn’t comment but who also feel the same way to introspect and remove your prejudice. This campaign was started by four students who live in a society where women cannot always walk down the road after 8 p.m., without concern for their safety. We are among many who are disgusted and horrified by the December 16th gang rape of Jyoti Singh and all the rapes that have continued to occur after it. Students who watched their country ban a documentary about the gang rape named ‘India’s Daughter,’ which showed how some in our society think. We are students who strongly believe our society needs to stop being passive about rape culture and accept gender equality. Label it feminism or call it being a sensitive human being, we understand the need for equality and safety for women as well as an end to violence against women and we hope to continue to fight for equality with the support of all of you. We request all the speculators to introspect about their reactions towards the use of sanitary pads and whom they believed responsible.
It is crucial that the public is aware these actions were not taken solely by a group of females, but by a combined force of concerned men and women who believe in the foundations of feminism; equality of the sexes. This campaign was started by two men and two women who believe that speaking up and taking action will spark the fight against the inequality and rape culture that is present in India. Our goal is to make the common bystander present and sensitive to the issue of rape and sexism so that everyone, regardless of their gender will be safe on the streets of Delhi and India.
We are Mejaz, Kaainat, Mohit and Sameera; we do not hate men, we believe in gender equality and an end to violence against women.
[Balatkaar ka Sanskaar, Samaaj ka maar (A culture of rape, is the death of society)]