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2019 Raksha Bandhan Saw Sisters Tie #MeToo Rakhis To Open Up About Their Trauma Of Sexual Abuse

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The festival of Raksha Bandhan has been prevalent in Indian society for centuries. The primordial tradition carried the essence of the beautiful virtues of love and care. However, in an inherently patriarchal society of the medieval times, ‘Rakhi’ came to be recognised as an occasion where women ceremoniously thank their brothers for being their eternal protectors or ‘Rakshak’. With time, the patriarchal undertone of the festival have faded, and Raksha Bandhan has evolved to be a celebration of the deep love between siblings. 

At present times, women in India are no longer safe, continually being at the helm of sexual abuse, harassment and misdemeanour by the opposite sex. The notion of men being their protectors holds dated today, especially at a time when even male family members are not hesitating to abuse the girls and women in their families. The ongoing Me Too movement has given the necessary attention to the plight of the women survivors, who struggle with their trauma often for years. 

Priyal, an artist and poet from Goa, decided to blend the age-old tradition together with the voice of the Indian woman. Thus was born the Me Too Rakhis – aimed to be a symbol of trust, empathy and a promise to put an end to the abuse.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

The Me Too Bro campaign

The concept of Me Too Rakhis was birthed in 2018 and has evolved to a much larger scale this year. The star of the event is undoubtedly the Me Too Bro Rakhis – which sisters would tie around their brothers’ hands. The fundamental idea is to welcome the brothers to a gender-neutral platform for survivors of abuse. By donning the Me Too Bro Rakhi, a brother automatically vows to denounce the sense of ‘ownership’ of his sister, instead be an active supporter of her freedom and choices. At the same time, he ideally becomes integrated into the cohort of Me Too supporters, who condemn abuse in each and every form.

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The Rakhis come with the tagline – “This Raksha Bandhan, Let Your BRO Know What You Need Protection From.” Each of the Me Too Bro rakhis come with a heartfelt letter to the brother, urging them to consider their own ‘thoughts and actions’ with other women and always prioritise respect for the opposite sex.

It could be something as simple as laughing at rape jokes,  gawking at a woman on the street or enjoying objectification of women on the silver screen – these simple actions often go a long way in developing a misogynistic mindset. “When a sister is tying a Me Too Rakhi around her brother’s wrists, it is a moment of introspection for the brother whether his activities or actions are somehow nourishing the culture of sexual abuse,” reveals Priyal.

To Create A Network Of Support & Love

“Instead of upholding the pseudo idea of protection, if men strive to create a safer space for women by controlling their own actions, then we do not need protection after all,” she explains.

Amid the depravity of present times, the Me Too Rakhis vouch to create a network of empathy and support, allowing survivors to open up about their trauma to someone they trust closely, be it a friend or a family member – on whose wrists they choose to tie the beautiful and unique Rakhis.

“The campaign endeavours to create a secure space to begin conversations about abuse and harassment. And what better way to convey the message than a beautiful festival which nurtures love and care at its core?” Priyal adds.

This is why the relevance of the Me Too Rakhis do not stay limited to one day of the year; rather they can be worn and tied around all year long, whenever someone decides to open up to a caring soul about their agony of abuse.

Me Too Rakhis Are Completely Sustainable

The Me Too Rakhis are simplistic and elegant, sporting the powerful phrase in big, brave letters. Sans ornate embellishments or motifs, the Rakhis stand out in their own uniqueness, accentuated by the fact that they are entirely eco-friendly.

“Each of the rakhis is handmade from tetra packs and jeans, up-cycled in the process” – reads the description on their Facebook page. The sustainable rakhis are handmade, carefully curated by a group of eight women from Anjuna village in Goa.

The ‘Main Bhi’ Rakhis

The Me Too movement has taken the world by storm, with social media being a hotspot for starting the much-needed discussions and actions against sexual abuse, molestation and harassment. In cityscapes of India, thousands of women have come forward to open up about their #MeToo experience over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other forums.

However, a substantial number of women from less privileged backgrounds are often victims of regular domestic atrocities and sexual violence. Hailing from remote villages and bred in toxic patriarchal communities, their screams for help are seldom heard. The #MeToo outrage is yet to make inroads in their lives.

Me Too Rakhis

Taking their horrific distress into consideration, perhaps for the first time, the makers of Me Too Rakhis have come up with ‘Main Bhi’ Rakhis – a vernacular version with the same aim.

Non-English speakers can identify with the concept easily and finally have a chance to make themselves heard.

A Future Society Free Of Abuse

The true goal of the Me Too Rakhis is to sprout a society so beautiful and balanced, where the need for a Me Too movement becomes redundant. However, that day is a long way into the future. As of now, the Me Too Rakhis envision to take the #MeToo movement to its apex and uproot the whole culture of abuse.

Raksha Bandhan might have been over a week ago, but the Rakhis will be available throughout the year at this link: https://www.instamojo.com/MeTooRakhi

For more details, visit their Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/metoorakhi/

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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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