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For The LGBTs, Hope Floats
Lavanya Regunathan Fischer & Devadatt Kamat

It’s been a long fight – with more downs than ups. Yet, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in India, which has been struggling for their rights over 25 years now, is holding on to hope – and with good reason. The Supreme Court recently took in a bunch of curative petitions against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a colonial-era provision criminalising consensual sexual acts of LGBT adults in private, to a five-judge Constitution Bench for a comprehensive hearing. A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur and Justices Anil R. Dave and J.S. Khehar gave credence to arguments that the threat imposed by the provision amounts to denial of the rights to privacy and dignity and results in gross miscarriage of justice. Of course, those standing up for the rights of LGBT people are now optimistic that this promised hearing will right some long standing legal wrongs and might even go a step further in granting positive rights to a community that should have been treated no differently from any of the others in India.

“The reality remains that the debate on sexual tolerance in the country has not progressed beyond the struggle for the very right to debate this issue.”

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 WFS Ref: OPIP202 1050 words

How Can Mandatory Sex Determination Save Girls?
Bijayalaxmi Nanda

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has stirred up quite a controversy with her statement regarding the intention to lift the ban on sex determination in order to curb sex selective abortions in India because the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act has failed to check the falling child sex ratio. While it’s true that the law, which, incidentally, is progressive because it keeps a strict distinction between the right to abortion and sex selective abortion, has not been enforced properly, it’s also a fact that where it has been adhered to, it has brought about a marked positive turnaround in numbers. In fact, it’s the ‘solution’ being offered to deal with this critical problem that will end up impacting women adversely. More than anything else, the proposed compulsory sex determination will multiply the risk of violence against women by the marital family, as was the case with Dr Mitu Khurana, the first complainant under PCPNDT Act, who reported increased violence at the hands of her in-laws and husband once they came to know the sex of the foetus. Indeed, many women like Khurana have so far been able to withstand the pressure to deliver sons by emphasising on the illegality of sex determination.

‘It is a travesty of gender justice that the women have to be criminalised and their privacy, bodily integrity and dignity is completely set at naught. The limited right to abortion that we have in India will be seriously compromised by this.’

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 WFS Ref: INDP201 960 words

Saudi Arabia
Maha Almuneef Stands Up For Abused Saudi Women

Maha Almuneef, a mother of three living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is a certified physician with a vision: to end violence against women in her country. According to the recent statistics, a staggering 60 per cent women visit hospitals after suffering domestic violence and the number of cases being reported is on the rise. Undeterred by the traditional image of a woman’s place in society, she earned her medical degree and then went on to establish the National Family Safety Program (NFSP), the first specialised institution to address the issue of domestic violence in the Kingdom. As the Executive Director of NFSP, Maha Almuneef, who calls domestic violence “a national security issue”, focuses her attention on initiating prevention programmes and training professionals, such as police and lawyers, to improve support for survivors of violence. In fact, she has played an important role in drafting and advising on a law, "Protection from Abuse", which protects women from abuse and domestic violence. In this one-on-one, Maha Almuneef talks about overcoming challenges to speak up against domestic violence.

“The lack of laws against domestic violence and child maltreatment makes advocacy and provision of services to victims more challenging.”

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 WFS Ref: SARP201 600 words

Coping With Anxiety Can Be Quite Simple

Neurological disorders are on the rise today – from anxiety to depression and even dementia. In fact, increasingly, anxiety is a mental health issue that millions of women are struggling with nowadays. According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the US, women are 60 per cent more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder over their lifetime. Considering that the vulnerability quotient is high, what are best ways to cope with this problem? Is medication the only plausible option or is there anything else that one can do to lessen, or, dare we say, even beat the odds? ‘Brain Maker’ by Dr David Perlmutter with Kristin Loberg, published by Hachette, establishes how simple dietary modifications is all that is needed to bring about a dramatic turnaround in brain health, boost mental clarity and add years to one’s life. An excerpt.

‘It’s natural to feel anxious and even depressed on occasion, but when these emotions are unrelenting and cause such distress that they interfere with quality of life, they become matters of mental illness.’

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 WFS Ref: INDP204 1000 words

Women Count On The Tricolour For Good Health
Saadia Azim

Mention the word ‘tiranga’ or tricolour to Sheela Devi, a resident of Kasudih village in Jharkhand’s Deoghar district, and her face lights up with a smile. Of course, to her the tricolour doesn’t just denote the Indian national flag; these are also the colours that signify quality nutrition and good health. That’s because Sheela has taken to including all the three colours of the flag – orange, white and green – in her family’s daily diet. The orange comes from the lentils, the green from leafy vegetables and white from rice and milk. There was a time when she, along with other women in the region, used to serve up unbalanced, carbohydrate-rich meals of rice, potatoes and, occasionally, lentils. But ever since the ‘tiranga bhojan’, or tricolour meal, approach, initiated by a local non government organisation, has laid emphasis on the quality and not just the quantity of food eaten – their idea of ‘proper food’ was consuming large quantities – afflictions like severe malnutrition and anaemia in the district have been curtailed significantly.

“Women now know that it’s better to forage or grow tricolour foods than look for a competent doctor later on.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDN210R 1200 words
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