New Delhi — The message is clear, period. A group of students at Kolkata's Jadavpur University are writing feminist slogans on sanitary napkins and putting them up all over the campus to protest India's patriarchy and rape culture. The messages, scribbled with black and red sharpies on sanitary pads, are also meant to break society's taboo on speaking about menstruation.
The protest, in line with a similar campaign by a group of students at the Jamia Milia Islamia University in Delhi, is part of a drive by a group at JU called 'Periods', reported the Times Of India.
"I wish the rape culture repulsed you more than my blood," read one of the messages.
"We wrote scores of messages on sanitary napkins and posters today condemning Sexual Violence and Rape Culture, also keeping in mind the recent developments in Jadavpur University," student Nabottama Pal wrote on her Facebook page.
"Unfortunately many of them have been taken down by unknown persons, but we hope to upload pictures soon. We hope that this initiative will find acceptance among the students of the University and also ones outside it... Let the battle against Patriarchy continue," she wrote.
TOI quoted JU pro-VC Ashish Verma as saying that, "there is always space for freedom of expression but students should also know where to draw the line."
Pal told HuffPost India that quite a few men were involved in the campaign as well. But she said she found it intriguing that many people have asked her this. She quoted a friend of hers as saying "Is it not a REAL protest unless there are men present validating it?"
"It doesn't strike us as something odd when there are rallies full of men and few faces of women...so once again we see how we internalise Patriarchy in our everyday perception of things," Pal said.
The movement has found support on social media she said. "Comments on the social media were quite positive. Many encouraged us and pledged to join in, in the coming days. But of course there was a lot of hostility around it as well. 'Sanitary Napkin Crusaders'+ 'Elitist Feminazis' are a few examples," she said.
"Many people have said we 'need to draw the line somewhere' since this protest is not 'aesthetically pleasing'. But this sort of agitprop is meant to agitate people and ask difficult questions: So we are extremely happy that it is generating such a wide range of responses - both positive and negative."
Pal said authorities have not yet stonewalled their movement. "Newspapers have quoted the Pro-VC and apparently he wishes to 'showcause' us. But we haven't received any formal notice yet. The Head of JUTA (teachers' association) has welcomed the content of the posters, but has reserved comments on the form. Additionally, she's said that as long as protests are not of an explicitly violent nature, teachers will not have a problem with it," Pal added.
Jamia showcaused four of its students recently for putting up sanitary pads with messages against rape and sexism.
The concept, adopted by both JU and Jamia students, is inspired by German artist Elone, who on International Women’s Day, wrote feminist messages on sanitary napkins and put them up all over Karlsruhe city.
Here are some of the photos from JU that Pal shared with the public on her profile.