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India
Men Engage To Break Free From The Bonds Of Patriarchy
Rimjhim Jain

Men across 50 villages in Maharashtra’s Beed, Solapur and Pune districts have made their wives joint owners in the family property. Another four hamlets in the state have been declared ‘Honda-free’ because young men there have pledged not to take dowry; the Honda motorcycle is the region’s most in-demand marriage ‘gift’. In Uttar Pradesh, where a highly patriarchal mindset prevails, groups of men are happy to chip in doing household activities, including taking care of children. And Delhi’s three lakh autorickshaw drivers now have a dedicated men’s helpline to help them shed their chauvinistic assumptions. In a twist to the feminist movement, where empowerment of women was the longstanding mantra and sympathetic men mobilised women to break the bonds of gender dominance, a new ideology has emerged from the ground. It calls for men to challenge their ‘privileges’ and bring about personal change.

“There can be no gender justice without the active, intensive and persistent effort of men to recognise their privileges and consciously turn away from them. Men need to practise a new masculinity - that, which rejects the notion of power and patriarchy.

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDNA16 1230 words


India
Give In To Feasting This Festive Season
Bhanu Priya Vyas

No celebration in an Indian home can be complete without an array of the most sumptuous delicacies being prepared with a lot of love and attention to detail and dished out with panache. Every family has its stash of secret festival recipes handed down generations by grandmothers, mothers and aunts, although they can often be quite elaborate and time consuming. However, for all those busybodies who want to indulge their taste buds but can’t come up with that perfect menu, here’s a custom designed feast by culinary expert and well-known food writer, Vidhu Mittal, who picks out her favourites from her latest book, ‘Pure and Special: Gourmet Indian Vegetarian Cuisine’, published by Roli Books. So, go on, don that apron, get into the kitchen and cook up a delectable meal for your loved ones this festive season. For, as the popular saying goes: families that eat together, stay together.

“There are vegetables like Broccoli and Zucchini readily available in the market nowadays. Though people know about them, they don’t have an idea of how to incorporate them into our local recipes. Especially for them, I have created the blush-hued strawberry phirni and broccoli cheese kebabs.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDNA17 1000 words


India
Celebrating The Bonds Of Sisterhood On GB Road This Diwali
Taru Bahl

Across India, people are gearing up for the one festival that brings dazzling lights, boundless joy and loads of fun to their life. Yes, it’s Diwali time, which essentially means family time. But talk of family among a group of female sex workers living in Delhi’s red light area, G.B. Road, and they instantly become moist-eyed. While many do manage to visit their home every other year during this wondrous festival of lights, bearing gifts and new clothes for everyone, for those who stay back, their home is the brothel and their beloved family are their sister sex workers. Here, whether it is the 44-year-old Rani or 28-year-old Iram (names changed), everyone gets together to celebrate with devotion and a lot of hope. In the end, it’s all about being together, praying and lighting pretty oil lamps to brighten their otherwise intense lives that are full of unexpected twists and turns.

“We all celebrated Eid together just as now for Diwali we will wear our best clothes, do the Lakshmi puja and light up our home with diyas.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDNA06 1250 words


India
Channelising Girl Power To Fight Child Marriage
Sarada Lahangir

Last year, Sujata Behera, 17, of Dankeni, a remote village in Kandhamal district of Odisha, did the unthinkable. Just two weeks before her upcoming marriage, this youngster, who hails from to a scheduled caste community, told her parents that she had decided not to go through with it. Sujata’s father was livid while her mother tried to reason with her to change her mind. But the teenager was firm. Standing by her side was her special group of friends whose unwavering presence gave her the strength to defy her parents. The girls sat the elders down and explained why it was such a bad idea for Sujata to get married before her 18th birthday. Though it was not easy, they managed to convince them eventually. Who were these girls that came to support Sujata in her hour of need? Members of the Kishori Kalyan Samiti, an all-girl group set up in the village with the assistance of the Centre for Youth and Social Development, under the initiative, ‘Improving Maternal Health Status in Six States in India’, launched by Oxfam India. In 34 villages of Kandhamal, where 35.5 per cent girls are pushed into early marriage, these groups have given hundreds of teens the power to say ‘No’ to child marriage and save themselves from a lifetime of ill health and the misery of unfulfilled dreams.

“Despite being a victim of child marriage myself, due to social pressures I was ready to let my daughter give up her education and go through the same hardships that I am facing till date. Thankfully, I realised my mistake. I am proud that my daughter is part of a group that stands up for what’s right.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDNA07O 1280 words


India
When Anupriya, 14, Got Shivani, 12, To Go To School
Alka Pande

Anupriya Pal is a spirited activist. It was her determined efforts that rescued Shivani, a rag picker, from her miserable life with an alcoholic father and a mother who always chose her brother over her. Whether it was to shower her affection or decide on which one of them got to go to school, she always picked him. For weeks Anupriya observed Shivani scouring the streets for garbage till one day she decided to follow her home. She met with the youngster’s mother and told her about how her daughter needed to be in a classroom and not on the roads all day long but Shivani’s mother simply told her off. Who was Anupriya to interfere in her household matters and how would they survive if Shivani stopped rag-picking? It took many visits from Anupriya before the mother relented. Today, Shivani is studying in Class Seven at the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalay in Badlapur village of Jaunpur district in Uttar Pradesh. Meanwhile, activist Anupriya, who is all of 14 years, has recently been conferred with a special award given by the state government in collaboration with UNICEF.

“They shoved me, reproached me, and asked me to stay away from issues that were way beyond my understanding. But I did not give in.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDNA09 1250 words
 
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