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India
Renewing The Call To Recall The Verdict On Homosexuality
Lavanya Regunathan Fischer and Devadatt Kamat

Seeking: 25-40, well-placed, animal-loving, vegetarian GROOM for my SON (36, 5’11”), who works with an NGO. Caste no bar (Though Iyer Preferred)… One glance at this matrimonial that appeared recently in a prominent Mumbai daily and the first thoughts: ‘this must be a misprint; seeking a groom for a son, can that be right?’ Well, it may be a first of sorts, a traditional Tam-Brahm family openly looking for a partner for their son, but attempts like these may eventually lead to greater acceptance of homosexuals and their life choices. While socially sanctioned same sex live-in relationship or marriage may be a distant reality in India, the reinstatement of the landmark 2009 Delhi High Court judgment that repealed Section 377 can certainly further the ongoing efforts at diminishing long-held social prejudices. Courts have long been regarded as the ultimate recourse for the Indian citizen but the Supreme Court’s judgment that recriminalised homosexuality is startling. The Constitution assures each citizen ‘Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; Equality, of status and of opportunity…’ And yet, the Apex Court, on which falls the responsibility of upholding the Constitution, has allowed a colonial era law to continue to hold sway in the country.

Delving into the personal life and preferences of people who enter into consenting relationships as fully aware adults would be a violation of that very same right to life with dignity.

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Global
Under The Spotlight: Women In Media
Rashme Sehgal

Arifa Noor, resident editor of ‘Dawn’, a daily newspaper published from Islamabad, Pakistan, describes her role as a woman journalist in the following words: ‘It’s my job to think differently – on war, on politics, on crime and everything else that is covered by the paper I edit. I am here to provide diversity, to celebrate difference.’ But are women journalists in South Asia truly able to provide these crucial interventions in the face of increasing threats, harassment, abduction and at times even death? And what about the poor working conditions, insecure employment under the contract system, the hazards of late night shifts and vulnerability to sexual harassment? Despite the challenges, attacks and confrontations, the numbers of women who are ready to brave the odds to carve a niche for themselves in the world of print, TV, digital and radio is on the rise because of their “love for journalism”.

“For a female TV journalist, it is like being in a battlefield with enemies on all sides.”

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India
Setting Fitness Facts Straight

Most women are fit when they are in college and are happy with their bodies. Then comes work life, where a desk job results in gradual weight gain. Soon, they get married and easily put on five kilos. The kids bring more weight gain and when they look in the mirror 10 years down the line they simply cannot recognise themselves. And that’s when the starvation and obsession with diets begin because most often they think they should devote most of their time and energies to the family. But wait… if they are struggling with their own health issues, which are bound to crop up sooner than later, then how can they continue to be effective at home? An exercise regime is imperative to a healthy life today. But before signing up at the nearest gym, let’s bust some common myths around fitness. Do you need to exercise only if you want to lose weight? Is Size Zero real? Can fat be spot-reduced? Are carbs bad? Should one avoid exercise during periods? ... In this excerpt from ‘Total Fitness’, Leena Mogre, fitness guru to the stars, shares some of her expertise for a safer workout.

Size zero means you are bordering on anorexia, and that is neither healthy nor beautiful.

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India
‘Azan Can Wait, A Newborn Can’t Wait To Be Breastfed’
Abha Sharma

Imam Abdul Aziz of Azam Shah Masjid in Tonk, a small town in Rajasthan, may seem like an unusual advocate for maternal and child health and yet, today, this is an issue that is close to his heart. He makes it a point to talk to families, especially the menfolk, about the importance of providing adequate nutrition to expectant women and new mothers, the need for institutional delivery and the significance of ensuring that a newborn is given mother’s milk, so that people learn to make use of the formal healthcare services previously rejected on social and religious grounds for the betterment of women and children. Imam Aziz is one of the 26 religious leaders, who have been sensitised on contemporary health, nutrition and sanitation issues, enabling them to effectively spread the word on related best practices in their community. These days, religious leaders as well as conscientious community volunteers have joined hands under a special initiative to improve the overall health of the over 1.6 lakh Muslims living in Tonk.

“Due to the purdah system, Muslim women were not allowed to go to the hospital and so had no access to family planning methods or institutional delivery. Also, they were not allowed to breastfeed till a family elder whispered the ‘azan’ (holy prayer) in the ears of the newborn.”

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India
Support And Sisterhood At India’s First One Stop Crisis Centre
Sakuntala Narasimhan

When Diya, 19, lost her job at the supermarket, a relative suggested she contact Ajit, a cousin of her friend, who could help her find employment. Diya called him and fixed up to meet at a bus stand from where he was to take her to a prospective employer. Instead, Ajit led her to an isolated area, raped her and then fled. In a state of shock, Diya went to a private clinic with her parents where they were directed to go to a hospital six kilometres away. What followed was another nightmare. First, she was subjected to a volley of embarrassing questions and an invasive examination and then at the local police station she was sent from one desk to another with more offensive questions to answer. She relived her trauma countless times that night and yet three days later there was still no FIR. Meanwhile, Ajit simply disappeared. Across India, there are countless women like Diya who have to deal with the apathy and injustice inherent in our legal system. It is to overcome these agonising hurdles that the Justice Verma Committee, created in the wake of the Nirbhaya rape case, called for setting up One Stop Crisis centres to cater to the immediate medical, legal and psychological needs of the survivors. It’s going to be one year since the country’s first centre, Gauravi, opened its doors and phone lines to women in Bhopal. What has been the experience from the ground? Read on.

“A woman can walk in, with the assurance that her consent and confidentiality will be respected and protected. Gauravi does not look at women as clients; it offers sisterhood.”

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