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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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India
‘Stop Judging People With Disability’

As a child she used to roam around the residential colony in Bikaner in Rajasthan, where she lived with her parents and elder sister, climbing trees, playing with the boys in the neighbourhood, taking swimming and skating lessons. All that changed the day she came back home with a grenade she had found lying on the street after a local ammunition factory had caught fire and scattered the ammo around. Although everyone at home assumed it was a diffused grenade, after it blew up one afternoon Malavika Iyer’s life was never the same again. In the explosion she lost both her arms and would have even lost her legs had she not been rushed to Jaipur for medical attention. Despite endless rounds of hospital visits and painful corrective surgeries, Iyer has overcome her disabilities and put her life back together in a manner that is truly inspiring. While the rest of the world has taken great strides in mainstreaming the differently-abled, life continues to be an uphill struggle for the 26.8 million living in India. Burdened with their ‘handicapped’ status the majority lives life on the fringes, largely forgotten by society. Iyer, however, has beaten the odds to emerge on top. In this excerpt from ‘Gifted’ by Sudha Menon and V.R. Feroze, published by Random House, read all about the amazing journey of this research scholar and celebrated motivational speaker.

Many a time people ask me what inspires me. I am inspired by people who treat me just the same way they treat normally-abled people. …the moment you treat us differently, it is shutting us out of your life completely.

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