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There’s Nothing To Be Ashamed About Disability
Book Excerpt

A person without disability automatically assumes that a disabled person wants to be cured. As if there is a cure for disability. Is there a cure for disability? For the disabled persons who are proud of who they are, for whom their identity as disabled has been an important part of making meaning about themselves and the people and the world they have known, the refusal of ‘cure’ can be the response to this societal quest of ‘treating’ disabled people. Like all children, when Malini Chib, disability rights activist and author, who has cerebral palsy, was growing up, she too forced herself to be as normal as possible and adapt to the normal world, where she had to be fixed to fit. Till one day she realised that living in denial of her difference needn’t be her only option. To mark the International Day of People with Disability (December 3) we bring the inspiring account of Chib, who shares her experiences and observations as she got around to developing a strong disability identity that she wants to “celebrate” rather than reject. An excerpt from ‘Disability, Gender and the Trajectories of Power’, edited by Asha Hans and published by Sage Publications.

‘I am a disabled, heterosexual, and an Asian upper-middle-class woman. My disability is only one part of my identity, yet sadly, that is the only part that the society decides to see, or even acknowledge.’

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Sophie’s Choice: Telling Stories On The Big Screen
Surekha Kadapa-Bose

Think women and Hindi cinema and almost immediately the image of a glamorous female actor pops into the head. Technical positions have largely been a male domain and, over the decades, only a select few women have been able to establish themselves behind the scenes. Sophie Winqvist Loggins is one of the handful of female professionals, who has not just made a name for herself as a Director of Photography but this Swedish woman has also overcome the cultural differences that challenged her when she first started working in the Hindi film industry. As a foreigner, a woman and a creative professional, she has had diverse experiences as she worked towards claiming her place behind the camera but she has had a good time telling stories to an Indian audience. As she sees it, Bollywood is “finally taking chances and making movies that are exciting”.

‘Even today there are tonnes of biases against women DoPs. You have to prove yourself more. But then there’s also curiosity, kindness and less of the alpha battle. Good work shines through and your talent is your only true basis for negotiations.’

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‘Pills, condoms alone will not end AIDS’
Syed Mohammad Afsar

‘We can end AIDS by 2030’- this bold message was meant to inspire people and leaders to work harder and faster towards making this once seemingly unreachable objective a reality. But, increasingly, it looks like this call may have, in fact, had quite the opposite effect. Instead of upping efforts to tackle this deadly disease policy-makers appear to have perceived it as: ‘AIDS in under control now’. As Senior Technical Specialist-Gender Equality and Diversity, ILOAIDS, Syed Mohammad Afsar writes in this world AIDS Day special feature, ‘AIDS response is slowing down at a time when it needs to accelerate’. In particular, it’s alarming to note that one-out-of-five new HIV infections globally are among young girls in the age group of 15-24 years. Why do young girls continue to fall victim? Fact is that unstable jobs in the informal economy and gender inequality not only increase their risk to HIV but also adversely affect their access to HIV services.

Putting over 17 million people on life saving ART is no mean achievement but another 20 million need it. How soon can it be provided, while ensuring adherence for those who are already on this life-long treatment? And how will it be funded in the era of reducing resources?

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A Good Move: Migration Gives Girls A Taste of Independence
Rakhi Ghosh

After finishing her Class 12, Shalini Das decided to step out of the protected environs of her home and small hamlet in Odisha and shift to state capital Bhubaneswar to look for work. Her father had abandoned her mother when she was born and the older woman had raised Shalini into a strong young woman in spite of the crushing poverty and social struggles. When an uncle informed her of a possible job opening in the city she decided to take the leap of faith – one that has paid off. Although she is adjusting to her new environs, and especially to her job, she is glad that she is able to send steady money back home to her mother. Not just Shalini, there are several women, single, married, separated and widowed, who are not afraid of taking a chance and moving bag and baggage for better work-life opportunities. Where earlier female migration in the country was solely governed by social and familial compulsions, today women are increasingly moving to find their own space, identity, self-confidence.

“I am happy because here I do whatever I want to do. After finishing of my shift, I watch movies or go for shopping.”

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Saving Women From The Trafficker’s Trap

It was a simple job posting in her local newspaper that drew Rositato Jordan. Work as a chef for USD $400 in addition to free accommodation and food, it promised. When she applied she “received an invitation from a recruiting agency in Jordan so that I could get my visa”. The man who interviewed her “told me that I will have a separate room with a television and phone so that I can contact my family”. The incentives were too enticing to refuse. As Rosita boarded a plane from her home in Guatemala, she felt a rush of excitement. She met 15 other women who had received similar offers, and they eagerly discussed the opportunity that awaited them in Jordan. Upon arrival, their optimism turned to fear when “we were taken from the airport to an apartment” where they were locked “with no food or water or light”. The women had unwittingly become ensnared in human trafficking, a widespread issue in the Arab region. However, unlike many in the same situation, Rosita and her friends were able to escape and find refuge at a Jordanian shelter whose staff helped them reclaim their passports and return to their country. The shelter that saved their lives is operated by the Jordanian Women’s Union, which has implemented an anti-trafficking programme spanning three countries in partnership with the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Assistance and Union de l’Action Feminine in Morocco.

“The partners from governments made it easier for the social workers and lawyers to access different State institutions when they were dealing with cases of trafficking.”

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 WFS Ref: JORPB15 870 words
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