Displayed below are summaries of features. To read the full text of recent articles you have to place a request. Click here for information on how to order. For a free read, click here.

Curtains Up On Domestic Violence
Mehru Jaffer

When Mustafa Ali, 28, heard that Kahkashan, 24, had been murdered by her husband in a fit of rage he dropped everything he was doing, packed his bags and travelled all the way from Chitrakoot district in Uttar Pradesh to the state capital Lucknow to ensure she got justice. The social activist, who is a member of the theatre team of Vanangana, a Chitrakoot-based non government organisation that works on securing women's rights, did not know Kahkashan personally but he is one of those few men who vociferously oppose domestic violence, dowry and sexual harassment. In September 2015, Kahkashan, the mother of a three year old, died after having suffered through two years of constant abuse and violence. When her brother went to the police station to file an FIR he was slapped by the men in uniform and sent back. It was the support of rights activists, including Ali and others, that finally landed her culprits behind bars. These days, Ali and his theatre team have taken to the streets of Lucknow to perform the play, ‘Mujhe Jawab Do’, which is based on the heartrending experiences of women like Kahkashan. The idea is to raise awareness around gender crimes and encourage people to break the silence.

The reality is that the very process of women’s empowerment leads to more violence as most men react in anger in the face of opposition to the existing social structures. The same patriarchal set up tries to ensure that incidences of violence are not brought to light.

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDOA07 1220 words

Womanhood Through Mrs Funnybones’ Eyes
Aditi Bishnoi

‘Mrs Funnybones’ by Twinkle Khanna… the title and the author both evoke a little bit of curiosity and, let’s face it, some amount of disbelief, too. Can a former Hindi film actor-turned-star wife really write? Or is it just one of the many things that celebs like to put their name to? Okay, never mind that for now. So, what is the book all about? Here’s how it’s described on the back cover: ‘full of wit and delicious observations… it captures the life of the modern Indian woman – a woman who organises dinner each evening after having been at work all day, who runs her own life but has to listen to her mummyji…’ Does Khanna really represent the quintessential modern Indian woman? And does her writing really illustrate the highs and lows of the everyday woman, who is expected to be the ideal daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend? Surprise, surprise… she does - to a large extent. Khanna’s life may not be “like you and me” because how many of us ever get to sit in the front row of a fashion show or be part of a photo shoot in glittering gold Pucci dress? Yet, when she obsesses about getting into an old pair of jeans post-childbirth or thinks of ways to “do the daughter-in-law thing” with a fierce and fiery mummyji, she does transform into “one of us”. Khanna’s easy, fun prose makes this collection of columns, published by Penguin Books, an enjoyable read.

‘A Punjabi mother, her son and food form a triad as sacred as Brahma, Mahesh and Vishnu, and cannot be interfered with as I learnt in the early years of marriage.’

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDOA08 1200 words

Kranti’ Girls Want To Be Catalysts Of Change
Surekha Kadapa-Bose

It’s the early morning hour and there is hectic activity going on. The girls are rushing around trying to get ready for the day ahead. There’s much laughter, chiding and comments going around. ‘Just look at her, she spends more than an hour everyday to get that perfect line of kajal!’, ‘there’s only one bathroom and one mirror here, it takes me time to get ready’, ‘come on, Pinky, I’m, hungry, please make the ‘poha’ fast and give it to me’, ‘have you given her some money to travel?’… All this chatter is quite familiar, isn’t it? Sounds like any normal household or perhaps a girls’ hostel. Well, it is indeed a home and a hostel but here’s the twist – it’s the happy home of 16 fearless daughters of sex workers from Mumbai’s Kamathipura, who live the dream of building a life different from that of their mothers. And slowly they are inching towards fulfilling this deep-rooted desire as they “talk and write about their personal issues” and learn “really interesting stuff from social sciences to understanding different aspects of gender, religion, caste, trafficking and law” at their special school before they enrol into college or a vocational training course to pursue a career of choice.

Recently, a group of girls went to the US to stage a play, Lal Batti Express, written and directed by them on “our past, present and future – our mothers’ work, our childhoods in brothels and NGOs, the discrimination we’ve faced, the struggles, and our hopes for the future”.

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO928 1250 words

Tribal Daughters Get Access To Wealth And Health
Ajitha Menon

Neetu’s parents were spending sleepless nights trying to find a way to gather enough cash to replace their thatched roof with an asbestos or aluminium sheet one when the 15-year-old from Jidu Pandra Toli village in Jharkhand offered to pay for it. They simply could not believe that the young girl could raise the Rs 6,000 needed for the roof sheet. However, Neetu not only managed to secure a loan but she also paid it off within six months. Like her Manti Kumari, 18, recently paid for the treatment of her sick mother, Khusboo Kumari, 13, lent her father money to give a monthly installment for his auto-cab while Parvati Bedia, 19, took an education loan for her college admission. In 70 villages of Ranchi and Hazaribagh districts in Jharkhand there are numerous teenage girls who are part of successful micro-credit ventures that give them access to funds as and when a need arises. Of course, greater financial control has given these girls the power to improve their health and nutritional status as well as firmly reject early marriage.

“Things were difficult and I struggled to finish Classes Eleven and Twelve. In fact, I had no money for college admission when the Kishori Mandal provided me a loan of Rs 800.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO713R 1250 words

Gudiya’s Classes Are The Gateway To A Better Life
Anjali Singh

Gudiya grew up in an environment where girls had no hope of ever leading a respectful life – “not just our fathers but our mothers were alcoholics as well. Most youngsters saw no scope in building a future and took to drinking early and aimlessly whiling away their time. Making ends meet was really tough. In fact, just to get a square meal a day my siblings and I had to work hard and make ropes or fishing nets”. Hailing from a small, impoverished and lower caste dominant village of Mallahipurva, located 150 kilometres from Uttar Pradesh's state capital, Lucknow, Gudiya would have simply followed in her mother’s footsteps and remained illiterate, married a drunk and borne lots of children that she would not have been able to support. But fortunately, not only has she managed to build a very different future for herself but she has also ensured that other children in her village do not lead a bleak existence anymore. This very first matriculate of Mallahipurva has brought primary education to the doorstep of her regressive community, changing their collective destiny. Read on to find out how she achieved this once impossible task.

“I was tongue-tied when she gave the SSC [Class 10] certificate in my hand. It was a source of both happiness and apprehension for me. People kept telling me that I was wrong in allowing her to do all this, but my heart said that this was her destiny; she was meant to do this."

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDK822R 1210 words
Pages:1  2  
home | link up with wfs | theme of the month | ngo newswfs services | archives | conferences | about us