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India
When It Comes To Sex, For Girls Information Is Protection
Rakhi Ghosh

As a counsellor with a local non government organisation, Sabita Buta's work takes her to the cramped slums of Bhubaneswar, the state capital of Odisha. She is tasked with the crucial, yet sensitive, responsibility of talking to adolescents about HIV/AIDS and the importance of safe sex. Sabita's job is important because nearly 60 to 70 per cent of the teens living in these settlements become sexually active at an early age for different reasons. For girls, most often it is poverty that forces them into keeping sexual relations with several partners, most of whom are older to them. Their fathers usually squander their meagre earnings on alcohol leaving the mother and the eldest daughter with the responsibility of meeting the expenses and keeping the household going. Whereas she knows that she can't bring about a behavioural change overnight what she can do is help the youngsters to mitigate the risks. And girls like Pooja are glad that, thanks to Sabita and others like her, they have the “protection” of information and awareness.

“It's typical for teens to develop a desire for sex. Their curiosity often gets the better of them and they do experiment. But children living in the shanties are far more vulnerable to contracting diseases or getting saddled with unwanted pregnancies.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO126R 1220 words


United States
The Naked Truth About Rape Culture
Elayne Clift

“My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self-deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night. … I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events … I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone's side. … It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry. You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak.” This is just a small part of the heartrending statement read by his victim to Brock Turner, the Stanford freshman swimmer convicted of sexual assault at Stanford University for which he received a six month sentence. No woman before now has shared the agony of rape or sexual assault and the effect of having one's life challenged in unimaginable ways as the 23-year-old woman whom Turner assaulted behind a dumpster while she was unconscious did. Perhaps now there will be a collective epiphany about a heinous crime that is largely ignored, trivialised, unpunished…

Turner's lawyers perpetuated the myth that women are to blame for drinking too much, being sexually active, dressing provocatively, not saying no (hard to do when you're unconscious).

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: USAP711 880 words



Silencing The Strong Female Political Voice
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

On July 7, Lesbia Yaneth, 49, environmental activist, mother of three and member of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (Copinh) in Honduras, was killed in cold blood. Her murder closely follows that of her compatriot and colleague Berta Caceres, for her role as indigenous leader, environmentalist and defender of human rights, and a fellow Copinh member, Nelson García. They join the growing list of women and men attacked for their political beliefs, including the recent deadly attack on Jo Cox, a British Member of Parliament who was shot and stabbed to death in the United Kingdom. She was a tireless campaigner for women's rights and outspoken advocate on humanitarian issues, peace and equality. Around the world, as more and more women exercise their political rights and dare to stand up for what is right, the greater has been the backlash. Their individual voices have been silenced. But the causes they supported are strengthened by those who continue to speak up for justice.

Today, globally there are more women in public office than at any previous point in history. Over 10,300 women serve as national parliamentarians, making up over 22 per cent of parliamentarians worldwide and more than doubling the proportion in 1995.

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: OPIP712 600 words


India
Having Fun Can Be A Great Workout
Book Excerpt

Most women want to be fit and healthy, but usually get stuck in a rut. So what does it take to get up and get moving? How about some fun activities that also burn calories? That doesn't sound right, does it? Well, if Namrata Purohit, fitness expert of the stars, is to be believed then exercise needn't mean going to a gym, lifting weights or running on the treadmill. There are numerous activities that are fun, exciting, adventurous and can most definitely help you get into shape! She picks five entertaining activities that also promise a great workout. An excerpt from ‘The Lazy Girl's Guide To Being Fit’, published by Random House.

‘I have personally tried and tested shopping as a way of burning calories: it can burn up to 224 calories in one hour.’

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDP713 900 words


India
She Has No Place To Live In This Paradise
Afsana Rashid

There just seems to be no end to the nightmare brought on by the September 2014 deluge and flooding that claimed more than 280 lives and damaged property worth crores across Jammu and Kashmir. Ask Raja Begum, Noora Begum, Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, Mohammad Rafiq, Ghulam Ahmad… and each one of them has a telling tale – of losing their home, their livelihood, the chance to study. It's been two years now and most of them are still fighting to get a roof over their heads and viable earning opportunities that would enable them to get back to the decent life they once led. In fact, securing their rightful entitlements under the government's social welfare schemes, especially under housing programme for the rural poor, seems to be their top priority.

“It is very hard to manage things in just a small space and things get especially bad when the weather is extreme.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDP704I 1250 words
 
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