An Unapologetic Feminist and Human Rights Activist Trisha Shetty, founder, SheSays and her team educate, rehabilitate and empower women to speak up and take direct action against sexual abuse
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Trisha Shetty started SheSays in 2015 to work towards ending gender-based discrimination and to advance women's rights in India by engaging with the youth and activating them as agents of social change. Through this organization, she and her team educate, rehabilitate and empower women to speak up and take direct action against sexual abuse.
Shetty is a graduate of psychology and political science, who also went on to grab a degree in law as studying law was very important in this field. It allowed her to have an understanding of the rights guaranteed to women under Indian law. "A concrete example of how the knowledge of the law helped me is, in the very beginning, when we started going on the ground and interviewing police stations and hospitals, we realized that even though section 357 C of the CRPC mandates guaranteed treatment for survivors of sexual violence in private or government hospitals free of cost, in reality, survivors were only directed to government hospitals and there the quality of treatment is abysmal," she says.
Shetty and her team have seen stray dogs running around in government hospitals where children who have been raped are admitted. "We have also seen that even though the law says only female medical practitioners are supposed to do the checkup, in actuality, it would be done by any available medical practitioner, which further traumatizes survivors of rape, especially children," she adds.
Shetty believes that having an understanding of what the law mandated, allowed her to do groundwork effectively, which has been the biggest success for the NGO. Since the work that she does is rudimentary on-ground work, it helped her shape policy advocacy and reforms around things like criminalization of marital rape, sensitizing young kids on what the law says, as well as figuring out that the biggest reason for school dropout rate after forced labor is younger menstruating people not having access to sanitary hygiene products.
"We realized that the biggest reason for menstruating people to not have access to menstrual products is cost," she says.
This led SheSays to launch a huge campaign called 'Lahu Ka Lagaan' to push for tax-free menstrual hygiene products. "This is when GST was being imposed. So it was a great opportunity for the government to declare sanitary napkins as tax-free and thanks to our campaign and the petition that we filed in the High Court and later in the Supreme Court. It was successful," she says.
Need-driven, youth-driven and unapologetically feminist, is what this young founder strongly swears by.
"For us, human rights are sacrosanct. And, that means, challenging the status quo, holding them accountable, being active citizens, recognizing the relationship between duty-bearers and rightsholders, and eliminating as many barriers as possible so that people have guaranteed access to their rights and as well as institutions for remedies, such as the legal system, police and healthcare."
- Age as on February 1, 2023: 32
- Team: 6
- Year of inception of the company: 2015