My Journey Towards Becoming an Agent of Change

Shreeya Mashelkar, ASAP Youth Champion, India.



It has just been 1 year since I came in touch with the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership.

I had never had reason to have an opinion about abortions before that since I had never personally encountered anyone seeking it in my life. Neither my school nor my junior college curriculum ever brought up this topic, which I now realize affects so many lives on a global level.

From Googling abortion and thinking of it as a miscarriage alone to understanding the term medically, legally and ethically now I feel that I’ve come quite a long way!

Revolutionary ideas are always resisted at first I feel. Any change which shakes the very basis of one’s deeply set beliefs is unwanted. But the YAR taught us ways in which we can take small measures which will lead us closer to our goal- women’s right to access Safe Abortion. The YAR mentored us in a way that we could get our facts straightened out, tactfully debate on conflicting views and share our experiences with people from other Asian countries.

We had so much to take from this experience. Meeting the other Youth Champions and being amazed by the novel ideas and ways in which they were trying to make a profound impact in their countries. Rola Yasmine, who took such amazing interactive sessions which stirred our minds. Her ‘A project’ is an inspiration as to how the strong will to prove something can affect lives and help the ones that need it. Dr Amar Jesani’s session on ethics which always makes us question our actions and how deciding between right and wrong isn’t always as easy as we think it should be.

Vandana Khare ma’am who literally reached out to the masses enlightening them through theatre. Having always loved theatre and how simply it can convey a strong idea to the crowd, is why I really loved this session. Anubha Rastogi ma’am’s session on legal advocacy was an eye-opener for me, as I had minimal knowledge of the legal intricacies and specifications of our own Indian law. Paromita Vohra ma’am’s Agents of Ishq was such a creatively designed “Desi” niche for the Indian audience to connect immediately. Shreya Anasuya’s views and how she is building on a feminist internet and creating content that is user-friendly yet politically just, setting an example of how words are mightier than swords.

And to meet and have a session with Manisha Gupte Ma’am was enthralling as usual. Brainstorming about possible solutions in real life to prevent barriers in safe abortion. Group activities, the interaction with other participants and the organizers, it was a memorable 3 days experience that I will always treasure.

And lastly, the reason why I could be a part of all this, Dr.Suchitra Dalvie and Shilpa Shroff ma’am. You have been with us, teaching and guiding us from the very beginning. Providing us with information, instilling ideas and helping us be the positive change in the society we want to see.

 These are just the first steps of my journey and I look forward to walking with ASAP and the other Youth Champions for a long time to come! I would like to challenge people’s beliefs and thoughts about abortion and make them sensitized to the topic in the same way I am now. Try and make abortion a topic which can be part of normal conversations between educated minds.I feel it’s important because it all starts from there, basic knowledge and clearing the air of stigma surrounding it.And once the idea is conferred to them, it can change their outlook towards people.More and more people will have a liberal view supporting the right to choose.And women from various backgrounds will be empowered with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their body and their reproductive right.I hope to see changes, though they may start out small but will affect lives in a positive way and soon have a wider outreach.And I will continue working through iSAY to achieve this goal someday in the near future.



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Romantic proposals 101 from Asia

romantic proposal

“Son, it is time for a young man’s thoughts to turn lightly to marriage. Who better to guide you than Sukhan Uncle?? He has so much experience. He has three sons who were married and now despite the pending court case for suspected dowry death by burning of his second wife, he has a third wife for himself also. And he has been to foreign and knows all about these romantic things. ” wink wink.

“So Uncle what is the best way to propose?”

“Well, you know that in the foreign they make the man go down on one knee and offer a ring or flowers at a romantic spot? Nonsense. Not in India. We are not like them. We have a deep and wonderful culture, where the girl’s family has to go on its knees. All of them. And offer us the girl along with a hefty contribution towards the new extension to the house or down payment on the car (since dowry is illegal now).

Some of your ‘modern’ friends may tell you to build a toilet inside the house so that it will send a message that you are progressive and caring. Or they may tell you to say you will not take dowry or will allow her to work after marriage. Don’t listen to those foolish young men. What have they seen of this world??

The top five methods to propose are

  1. Keep giving her a missed call. Everyday. Girls love that mysterious bad boy vibe.
  2. Whistle and call out random stuff when she passes you by on the road. Girls love that kind of attention.
  3. Offer an exchange for your sister to marry her brother. But if she is from an unfortunate family that has no sons then that is not possible.
  4. Offer her five times the love by asking her to marry all five of you brothers. Which woman would refuse such a magnificent offer?

If she refuses these charming offers, then you must first decide if you really want her. If you do then arrange to have her kidnapped.

Once she is in your custody her parents will be too shamed to ask her to come back because who in their right mind will marry her after this? Don’t worry about her not growing to like you. She will grow to love you and even look after you. The syndrome is named after Stockholm but it works very well here in India.

Of course if you don’t want her now that she has refused you then you could consider pouring acid on her face. Arrogant b**h. That way she and all the women in her family and community will learn a lesson. Never say no to a man. Justice must be done. That is our way.”

“But Uncle…”

“ Son, when elders are talking young people must only listen !

  1. The top of the list, the most romantic way to propose to her is to rape her. Not only in India. This works in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and even many countries in the Middle East.

It’s the best plan. Listen to her scream. If you are a real man who has drunk his mother’s milk then you will end up making her pregnant also. Then not only the girl’s parents will be begging you to marry her but the village elders will also endorse.


All old men of the village, yes, why should women be involved in such decisions? Of course they may also offer your sister to her brother to rape in front of the whole village …..but that’s ok. Honour rests in the woman’s vagina. It is written in the books. Kitabon mein likha hai. And justice must be done.

In India marital rape is not even criminalized, so you can continue raping her if she doesn’t come to her senses and agree to it on her own.

This is our culture and our civiliation. “

“But Uncle……….”

“Listen son, always make sure she is of the same caste as you or then we will be forced to hang both of you from the tree outside the village. We are nothing if not believers in gender equality and justice.

Our culture runs really deep you know. “

“ Yes, Uncle. I can see that. It is deep. Down to the seventh circle of hell.”




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Heal Your Hymen

-Shristi Mainali, Youth Champion Nepal

The blog was originally posted here-  


Few days ago, as I was surfing the internet and going through some interesting YouTube videos, a suggested video named “Hymen can be healed” caught my attention. I was really taken aback by the video title and decided to be one of the thousands viewers of the video. I was both curious and furious about the video. Curious, because I wanted to know what nonsense stuff was there being preached and furious, because the title itself gave me the impression that how blatantly gibberish it was about. No wonder the video was watched by thousands and there were equally large number of reactions in comments’ section especially from females.

Then I questioned myself, why does a girl need to heal her hymen? Just to prove to her partner that she is a virgin? What if she isn’t? Why does virginity matter, anyway? If it matters, how does a man assure his partner the same thing? Or is it applicable just for females? Why virginity of a man is least thought about and why is it the character defining ‘tool’ for women? I was fuming.

Hymen is still a great concern (especially in south Asian countries) where large numbers of girls marry a complete stranger. Some minor enquiries about family, wealth, guy and his occupation, it is deemed favorable to marry the guy. In arranged marriage like such, knowing about the partners in detail is rare. Moreover, in a male dominated society, women are often judged by what they wear, how they present themselves, their previous relationships (if any) and their virginity. Thus, many females try certain capsules to fake bleeding after the intercourse, some use artificial hymen whereas some choose whole surgical process to repair their hymen. Having had many social issues to deal with, the matter regarding virginity and hymen adds to their already piled up stress.

Women need to understand that hymen doesn’t cover the whole opening of the vagina but it is just a thin layer of muscular membrane at the wall of vagina which gets stretched during a female’s first intercourse. Very few percentage of women bleed during this event and for rest the hymen gets adjusted towards the edges of vaginal wall which prevents the bleeding. Hymen can’t measure or decide the virginity of a woman rather this myth is created to control a woman’s sexuality. People might now think what can be the alternative way to know about the sexual activeness of a woman. I would ask you to think some ways to know about the sexual activeness of a man. Can you know if a man is a virgin or not unless you ask him about it? No, you can’t! Thus, same thing applies for a woman too. You know about her virginity status only if she tells you, and telling the truth or choosing not to tell is solely her own decision/right. Lastly, if a guy searches for blood stains on the white bed sheet after you do your thing then here’s a suggestion ladies, let him go and find someone who loves you not your hymen. Hymen and bleeding is not the proof of your virginity but the so called “Modern Society” will often find ways to either prude-shame or slut-shame a woman and disrespect her dignity. Thus, stop thinking about your hymen and just enjoy who you are.


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10 Facts on World Population Day 2017

Fact 1:

In 1989, the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme recommended that 11 July be observed by the international community as World Population Day, a day to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues. This year’s theme is “Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations.

Fact 2:

Using family planning as an umbrella often overlooks the needs of non-traditional family structures. As is obvious from the image below, the global family planning agenda remains oblivious to the fact that In many developing countries, women still face disproportionate risks to their health during pregnancy and childbirth. Many do not have control over their bodies because they lack access to contraceptives. At a time when globally the feminists have been fighting for inclusion in social agenda calling for a more inclusive approach which takes into account the needs of marginal, indigenous groups; the below image reaffirms a limited non-intersectional, upper-middle class, Caucasian approach to development which remains to be highly problematic and major deterrent to the goals it seeks to achieve.


Fact 3:

This year’s World Population Day, 11 July, coincides with the Family Planning Summit, the second meeting of the FP2020–Family Planning 2020–initiative, which aims to expand access to voluntary family planning to 120 million additional women by 2020. The fact remains that by 2020 more than 140 million girls will become child brides (see more-


Child marriage often compromises a girl’s development by resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupting her schooling, limiting her opportunities for career and vocational advancement and placing her at increased risk of domestic violence.

Fact 4:
The Global Gag rule reinstated by the Trump Govt adversly affects the Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women Worldwide


Trump reinstated a global gag rule that bars international health organizations that receive U.S. funding from mentioning abortion as a family planning option. The recent global gag rule on abortion rights further stigmatizes the issue of the reproductive health of young women, and further makes it difficult for young women to access services.


Fact 5:

Access to safe, voluntary contraception is a human right. It is also central to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and is a key factor in reducing poverty.
Yet around the world, some 214 million women in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe and effective Contraception methods, for reasons ranging from lack of access to information or services to lack of support from their partners or communities. Many of those with an unmet demand for contraceptives live in the poorest countries on earth.


Fact 6: 

Women with unmet need for contraception account for 84% of all unintended pregnancies


Another 3.2 million undergo unsafe abortions. This is partly because their access to safe abortions is highly restricted. The infographic below shows what happens when abortions are restricted or banned. The numbers in the image include women of all ages.


Fact 7:

Every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries. Maternal mortality is higher in women living in rural areas and among poorer communities. (see more-


Fact 8:

Adolescents have a basic human right to complete and accurate information about their sexual and reproductive health. Strong evidence suggests that comprehensive approaches to sex education help young people to delay sex and also to have healthy, responsible and mutually protective relationships when they do become sexually active. Many examples of comprehensive programs have resulted in delayed sexual debut, reduced frequency of sex, fewer sexual partners, increased condom or contraceptive use, or reduced sexual risk-taking. Read more- )

Fact 9:

Worldwide about 43,000 women die each year as a result of not having access to safe and legal abortions. Restricting abortions doesn’t stop women from getting one it only makes it unsafe.


A study into women who seek abortion pills online in the face of strict laws against terminations has found that almost 95% safely ended their pregnancy without surgical intervention.

Experts say the study underscores the safety of medical abortion, and highlights that women who go on to experience symptoms of possible complications do follow advice to seek medical help at clinics or hospitals. (see more- )

Fact 10:

Fulfilling the unmet need for contraception has a major environmental emphasis too. However, a study by statisticians at Oregon State University concluded that in the average long-term carbon impact of a child born in the U.S. – along with all of its descendants – is more than 160 times the impact of a child born in Bangladesh. Conversations need to move towards the impact of populations in developed countries and not only on reducing and spacing of births in the global south.(See more- )

The population issues need to move away from only methods used for having fewer children and towards empowering people where they truly control their bodies and lives.


See more at:


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Who has the Answers?

Rajvi Goradia, Youth Champion

Fact 1: Postpartum hemorrhage is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality.

Question 1: Why must somebody who is not even ready to have a child be subject to that statistic?





Fact 2: There are so many horrible things happening in the world. Human trafficking where girls are being sold for sex, slavery and so many other unmentionable things

Question 2 : Wouldn’t a safe abortion would be a relief for so many rape victims who have already experienced enough unsafe treatment? Do they need a daily reminder of the rape by being forced continue the pregnancy?



Fact 3: Every woman has the right to life and every government has the duty to protect it.

Question 3 : When women are forced to have unsafe abortions, does the government take responsibility if something goes wrong?


Fact 4: Safe abortion is one of the safest medical procedures a woman can have.

Question 4 : Abortion has been such a controversial subject but why is SAFE abortion harming anybody? How is it different from any other consensual medical procedure? Why should it not be treated like any other surgical/medical practice that occurs?



The ASAP Youth Advocacy Institute I attended has taught me a lot of about how the procedure of Safe Abortion works. There are so many countries in which abortion rates have decreased due to advancement of technology. But it requires so much more than that; a change in mindsets, a change in laws, a change in the attitude of health practitioners.

To achieve that, awareness has to be raised in every way possible about how harmful unsafe abortions are, how we should respect a woman’s choice to know what is wrong or right for her life.

Safe abortion should not be a rare opportunity that some lucky woman who matches all the criteria gets. It should be within every woman’s birth right because that is what any human being should get.



Fact 5: People must know how important it is to understand that at the end of the day, they are not responsible for whatever choice the woman makes. It is her life that will be affected.

Question 5 : She is a human after all, isn’t she? Or do her human rights get stripped away because of an unborn foetus?


In conclusion, all my point is that criminalizing abortion only stops women from getting safe abortions. And it is every women’s right to access safe abortion, no matter why, where or when.



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