#MeToo: Millions of women share their stories of sexual harrassment

Millions of women have come forward on social media to recount their experiences of sexual harassment or assault using the hashtag #MeToo in the aftermath of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace over allegations of rape and molestation.

The two simple words became a rallying cry after actress Ayssa Milano called on Twitter users on Monday to post “Me too” if they’d had a brush with sexual harassment, or worse. Needless to say, Twitter was flooded.
Celebrities and everyday people chimed in with personal accounts of being groped, verbally abused, molested and raped by bosses, teachers and family members. Many observed that they’d never come across a woman who’d not been a victim of some form of sexual abuse.

27 percent increase in Child Trafficking!

Children in India face threats ranging from trafficking, sexual violence, forced labour and early marriage to a lack of access to quality education and healthcare, say activists.

More than 9,000 children were reported to have been trafficked in 2016, a 27 percent rise from the previous year, according to government data.

Most are from poor rural families who are lured to cities by traffickers who promise good jobs, but then sell them into slavery as domestic workers, to work in small manufacturing units, farming or pushed into sexual slavery in brothels.
Figures from the National Crime Records Bureau also show that almost 15,000 children were victims of sexual violence such as rape, molestation and exploitation for pornography in 2015 – up 67 percent from the previous year.

But the figures are underestimates in socially conservative India, say activists, where fear of being blamed and shamed means victims often keep quiet and do not report abuses.

All Students above 60 years age – Winds of Change by MotiRam Charitable Trust

Clad in her pink uniform with a backpack on her shoulders, 60-year-old Kanta More walks down to her school every morning reciting the nursery rhyme she was taught the previous day. Along with 29 of her classmates, she begins her day at school with a prayer and goes on to recite the alphabets in Marathi swaying back and forth, as she etches them out on her black slate with a piece of chalk.

It could be an everyday scene in any elementary school, but with one difference: The students are all aged between 60 and 90 years of age. Kanta and her friends study at the Ajibainchi Shala, a grandmothers’ school in Fangane village in Thane, where they receive elementary education including fundamental mathematics, alphabets and their correct pronunciations as well as nursery rhymes.

An initiative to turn the hour glass by 45-year-old Yogendra Bangar, the school aims to educate the elderly women in the village, where farming is the dominant profession. Bangar, a teacher at the Fangane Zila Parishad Primary school collaborated with the Motiram Charitable Trust, which has provided a blackboard for the classroom, besides helping the women with all the necessary logistics including a pink sari uniform, a school bag, a slate and chalk pencils.

Initially hesitant about attending school, Kanta, who can now read and write in Marathi, says being educated makes her feel independent.

“Initially I was shy and hesitant, but when I came to know that women of my age and above were joining the Shala, I went ahead with the decision. Now I can read and write in my language. I have understood the importance of education. It gives you self-esteem. Earlier, I had to put my thumb impression on bank documents, but now I can sign them myself. I don’t need anyone else’s help,” she says.

Interestingly, Kanta is taught by her own daughter-in-law Sheetal who is a teacher at the school. Besides teaching them alphabets, Sheetal also makes them learn the verses and hymns written by great Marathi saints. The overwhelming enthusiasm of the women is also conspicuous in 87-year-old Ramabai’s determination that remains undeterred despite suffering from a hearing impairment.

“We did not know the importance of going to school as children. But, now I can write and also do a bit of reading,” says Ramabai, peeping through her thick glasses. To make the school compound greener, each student has planted a sapling named after them, which they water everyday.

The idea for opening the Shala struck Bangar last year when he found that nearly all elderly women in the village were illiterate and were unable to recite the mythological epics on Shivaji Jayanti.

“I felt it was my duty to educate them. After receiving the initial funds from the trust a family offered to lend a small portion of their land to set up the school and we began our journey on International Women’s Day last year with 28 grandmothers,” he says. Bangar, who travels 75 km everyday from the city to the school and back, says while any form of help from the government, particularly fellowships for their students would encourage encourage them and help take the initiative to other parts of the state.

ajibainchi-shala-_759

“It would be really welcoming and encouraging if the government offers fellowship to our students. It would be a revolution if the efforts are replicated in other parts of the state,” says Bangar, who claims that the initiative has helped the village achieve 100 per cent literacy. Education among the women has also created an increased awareness about sanitation and hygiene, making the village free of open defecation.

“Each family in the village has managed to set up toilets in their homes,” he says.

Just for the Girl Child!

Chandigarh: She is 55 and a Limca book record holder for being the first woman biker to have completed the Leh-Manali strip in 20 hours and 20 minutes and a single mother. Moksha Jetley, who is currently on a 17-day all-India expedition from Leh to Kanyakumari, took a halt here on Thursday, which she says is like a second home.
Reliving her Chandigarh memories, Moksha, said she did her graduation from MCM DAV College and her short married life also started in in the city. Unfortunately, it ended up later due to issues raised by her in-laws after she gave birth to a baby girl. “Chandigarh is a beautiful city in the country and I always feel full of energy when I come here. I spent my whole day getting my Royal Enfield Electra serviced from the workshop located in Industrial Area, Phase-I. I am staying at my friend’s place in Sector 11 and will continue with my journey early on Friday, she added.

Moksha, who basically belongs to Hoshiarpur, Punjab, is currently settled in Manali, Himachal Pradesh, where she is running a travel company, while her single daughter Prachi Jetley, 32, is working in an MNC in Bengaluru. Moksha further said that to raise funds for project ‘Nanhi Kali’, under which 100 girls who cannot afford education would be given education, she decided to start her journey of the country.
Moksha started her ride from Leh on October 2 on her daughter, Prachi’s birthday. “I wanted to start this project on my daughter’s birthday and if everything goes as per the plan, I will reach Kanyakumari on October 18, which is my birthday,” she said. Prachi was the pillion rider with me from Leh to Srinagar and for the further 14-hour journey of 435 km to Chandigarh, I rode alone and took a halt here, she said.

Talking about the ride plan, Moksha said that she would continue her ride to Jaipur,Udaipur, Pune, Goa and other coastal areas and finally end her ride at Kanyakumari. In her message to people, she said that, “Never stop living, always follow your heart. Age is just a number. Save girl child. I did not have funds to start this expedition earlier, but two start-ups besides help from my friends encouraged me to start this journey.”

MILK – Some Surprising Aspects:

She has stirred a hornet’s nest with her campaign against milk. Even hardcore veggies have attacked Maneka Gandhi and religious leaders have openly come out to contradict her. Curiously, on her side now is global research and modern science. They are the ones defending her now. Pritish Nandy talks to Maneka Gandhi about the controversy she has stirred.

You have come out very strongly against milk. Why are you so hostile to it?

There are three reasons. The first is health. The health of people is compromised by milk. Two, I am against cruelty. The third reason is the pollutants in milk.

Would you like to explain why you think milk is unhealthy?

There is this belief that milk is a complete food and an important source of protein, iron and calcium. Not only does it have no iron, milk in fact blocks the absorption of iron. As far as calcium is concerned, the ability of the body to absorb calcium from milk is barely 32 per cent. Whereas it can absorb, say, 65 per cent from cabbage and 69 per cent from cauliflower. As far as protein is concerned, milk has less protein than any vegetable. Even if it had more, it would be useless for human beings require only 4-5 per cent of their daily calorie intake in proteins. Even if you just have chapattisand potatoes for instance, you will get more than that.

So milk is not the best food in the world as it has been touted for generations?

Even if it was, no one can digest it. Certainly no Asian, no African. Why do I not eat plastic? The reason is: I have no enzyme to digest it. We do not have lactase in our body and so we cannot digest lactose. If we cannot digest milk, how do we get any of its ingredients? Apart from this, milk has something called IGF-1. All cancer studies show that when IGF-1 rises in your body you get cancer. All the IGF-1 in milk stays in the body, making you prone to cancer. Milk also has a very strong role to play in causing asthma. In fact, asthma patients all over the world are told to avoid milk and milk products.

The problem with doctors in India is that they are not taught nutrition in medical colleges. So they have a limited knowledge of food. Their knowledge of nutrition comes from the same source as yours and mine — grandmothers and teachers. Add to this the confusion caused by our local religious leaders, particularly the ones who espouse vegetarianism.

What is specifically wrong with milk? What is specifically harmful?

The calcium contained in milk actually becomes a health hazard as the undigested portions of it are deposited in the urinary system and become kidney stones. Another condition milk aggravates rather than alleviates is osteoporosis or bone loss. Studies have shown that it is excess protein rather than lack of calcium that causes this. So the more milk you drink, the more you are prone to osteoporosis. Countries like Sweden that have the highest milk consumption also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis.

Another misconception is that milk helps ulcers. Ulcers are caused by the corrosion of the stomach lining. When you drink milk it gives you immediate relief from pain. But that is only temporary. Milk actually causes acidity and further destroys the stomach lining. Besides, ulcer patients who are treated with dairy products are found to be two to six times more prone to heart attacks. This seems only logical because milk is designed to be the food on which a calf increases its body weight four times over in one month! It is so naturally high in fat that it leads to obesity, the cause of all modern disease. Ayurveda actually lists milk as one of the five white poisons.

Indians have been drinking milk for centuries. All of them did not fall sick.

It depends on what you call illness. Most people regard arthritis, osteoporosis, asthma, headaches and indigestion as normal for the body and look on cancer as an act of god.

By looking at milk as evil, are we not turning our back on our tradition and culture?

For thousands of years people thought the sun went around the earth. Copernicus was the first person who said it did not. There was a huge backlash against him. Indian tradition also talks of sati, thuggee and eating opium. Should they be legalised now?

I have written a book on Hindu names for which I had to read every single sastra. Nowhere was there any mention of milk being drunk. There is ghee mentioned and that too for havans. Unfortunately, our memories are short and the things we are most adamant about are those we know the least about. Dr Spock is the guru when it comes to child nutrition. Now he apologises for having advocated milk and says children must be kept away from it.

Dr Kurien has described the dairy industry as the gentle industry. You claim it is just the opposite?

No industry can be gentle. The fact that supply caters to demand makes the cow the ultimate victim. It may have been gentle when each household had its own cow and treated it as a member of the family. Not any longer.

How is milk produced now?

The cow is forced into yearly pregnancies. After giving birth she is milked for 10 months but will be artificially inseminated during her third month so that she is milked even when she is pregnant! The demanded production of milk is more than her body can give. So she starts breaking down body tissue to produce milk. The result is an illness called ketosis. Most of the day she is tied up in a narrow stall, usually wallowing in her own excrement. She gets mastitis because the hands that milk her are rough and usually unclean. She gets rumen acidosis from bad food and lameness. She is kept alive with antibiotics and hormones. Each year 20 per cent of these dairy cows are sent illegally by truck and train to slaughterhouses. Or they are starved to death by letting them loose in the cities.

It is no secret that the slaughterhouse in Goa was made by Amul Dairy. No cow lives out her normal life span. She is milked, made sick and then killed. Even worse happens to her child. The male calves are tied up and starved to death. Or sent to the slaughterhouses. It is not by chance that a calf is no longer called bachda in India. It is called katra, which means one who is to be killed. Even Dr Kurien admits that in Mumbai every year 80,000 calves are forcibly put to death.

But the doodhwalas love their cows. They live off them.

Have you seen how cows are milked? In the villages they practise phukan. A stick is poked into the cow’s uterus and wiggled, causing her intense pain. Villagers believe this leads to more milk. In the cities they are given two injections of oxytocin every day to make the milk come faster. This gives her labour pains twice a day! Her uterus develops sores and makes her sterile prematurely. Oxytocin is banned for use on animals but it is sold in every cigarette shop around a dairy. Every illiterate milkman knows the word. In human beings, oxytocin causes hormonal imbalances, weak eyesight, miscarriages, cancer. Recently, Gujarat started raiding dairies for oxytocin. In one day, they found three-and-a-half lakh ampoules in Ahmedabad alone!

You mentioned pollution in milk. What does that mean?

The ICMR did research on milk for seven years and took thousands of samples from across India. What did they find? Large amounts of DDT, poisonous pesticides called HCH. Under the food adulteration act only 0.01mg/kg of HCH is allowed. They found 5.7 mg as an average! They found arsenic, cadmium and lead. This causes kidney damage, heart disease, brain damage and cancer. Their findings, based on 50,000 samples, were released at a press conference. What did Dr Kurien and the Operation Flood people have to say? More samples should have been taken!

Other things put in your milk are sewage water, vegetable oil and liquid soap. In some cases we have found that earthworms are put in because they excrete slime which increases the density of the milk!

You have said that drinking milk is akin to drinking a cow’s blood?

Milk and blood come from the same source — the body cells of the cow. Every time you drink a glass of milk, remember it comes from a sad, suffering mother whose own child was killed before her eyes and who herself will be killed when she dries up.

Won’t the stoppage of milk lead to thousands being unemployed?

A large number of people are dependent on smuggling, thievery, begging, drug pushing, gun-running and terrorism. Do we buy their products to help them?

What is the substitute for milk?

What is the substitute to a placebo? Anything else. To me, soya bean milk, green vegetables, dal are all effective substitutes. My son has never drunk milk in his life. He is six feet tall and has never been sick for even a single day!