September 2015

   

India:
Saving Mothers In India's Heartland


India:
Tamil Nadu Cares For Its Mothers,Shows India How To Tackle MMR


Philippines:
As Always, Free Condoms Surest Way To Address AIDS


India:
Married at 14, Mothers At 15: Child Brides Of Tribal Odisha


India:
City Lights And City Nightmares: Lives Running On Empty


France:
C'est la Vie: Immigrant Lebanese Woman in France


Canada:
Mental Health: Lost In Translation


India:
Do You Exist? Show Your Address to Prove It


India:
Marketing Contraception: Do Women's Bodies Matter?


India:
Living Behind Bars - Women Tell Their Stories


India:
'I Want a Different Life, But Give Me Options.' Sex Workers And Rehab


India:
Census And The Child Sex Ratio: Where Have All The Young Girls Gone?


Jordan:
Child Brides And The Marriage Trap In Jordan


India:
Tackling Child Mortality? Let's Do It


India:
Teenage Pregnancy: Bengal's Dilemma


India:
The Trial Of A Vaccine Trial




 

 

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World Population Day: 11 July

"The Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme recommended that, in order to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues in the context of overall development plans and programmes and the need to find solutions for these issues, 11 July should be observed by the international community as World Population Day".

Women's Feature Service brings you some features from its achieve on the issue.

"Protecting a, women's life is a priority in any circumstances, and at all times".



India:
Saving Mothers In India's Heartland
 By Subhadra Khaperde

According to a recent UN estimate, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) in South Asia continues to be among the highest in the world, next only to sub-Saharan Africa. If this has to change, India would have to do better, and for India to do better a large state like Madhya Pradesh (MP) would have to drastically bring down its MMR, currently estimated at 335 deaths per 100,000 live births. Two initiatives in MP - one that focuses on information sharing and the other on expertise building - could be important pointers to the way forward in this central Indian state that has long neglected its expectant mothers.

* "The government thinks it can solve the problem by promoting institutional deliveries. But what the poor mothers of Madhya Pradesh need is assistance at the local level and general health care."

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India:
Tamil Nadu Cares For Its Mothers, Shows India How To Tackle MMR
By Papri Sri Raman

Each year as many as 27 million women give birth in India. Of these, some 136,000 die because of complications in their pregnancy and delivery. But Tamil Nadu's new initiative could not only help India come closer to its 2015 MDG goal of reducing maternal mortality, it also sets an example for other states. Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care Centres (CEmONC) are changing the face of mother and childcare in public health institutions. Services of the CEmONC - with facilities such as an operating theatre, a blood bank, a laboratory and an ambulance service besides a dedicated staff of 500 doctors and nurses - are available at 80 government district hospitals and have already successfully helped address 400,000 pregnancy-related complications.

* "Where one-acre of paddy cultivation employed eight women, a 100-acre shrimp pond needs only two men to guard it."

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Philippines:
As Always, Free Condoms Surest Way To Address AIDS
By Perla Aragon-Choudhury

Dolzura Cortez and Sarah Jane Salazar were the first to publicly speak about their HIV status in the Philippines in the early 1990s. Their courageous declaration created awareness about the disease - a major reason behind the Philippines being among the low prevalence nations in the world. Today, as HIV cases rise alarmingly - four new cases are reported every day - it's another woman, Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, who is doing all she can to reverse the trend. Under her, the Department of Health has launched a nationwide information drive, an important part of which is promoting condom use. Free condoms are empowering Filipino women to protect themselves by ensuring safe sex.

* The unfortunate truth is that HIV is not only spreading among people with high risk behaviour but their unsuspecting partners as well, who are mostly women.

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India:
Married at 14, Mothers At 15: Child Brides Of Tribal Odisha
By Sarada Lahangir

While travelling in Odisha's tribal belt of Koraput, Rayagada, Malkangiri, and Nawrangpur district, one comes across innumerable girls who got married when they were still children and now, still in their teens, hold babies in their arms. According to UNICEF's State of the World's Children Report, 2012, over 37 per cent girls in the state marry before they are 18 - the legally sanctioned age - and 13 per cent of men get married before they are 21, the legal age of marriage for men. The practice has serious repercussions for the young women in this region, who are in any case malnourished. Poor nutritional intake and early marriage make for a dangerous set of circumstances.

* "The general recommendation as far as caloric intake is concerned is that women need about 1750 to 2000 calories per day. Expectant mothers should consume 300 extra calories per day. But the average tribal woman consumes less than a 1000 calories a day whether or not she is pregnant or feeding her baby."

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India:
City Lights And City Nightmares: Lives Running On Empty
By Sarada Lahangir

It is a search for better times. Men and women from Odisha's hinterland, fleeing from parched or flooded fields, hope to gain a foothold in cities like Bhubaneswar. But once they come here, they end up living a hand-to-mouth existence. A recent UNICEF report highlighted the fact that of India's urban population of 377 million, around 97 million are poor and live on very little. This number could include children like 14-year-old Chingudi Samal, resident of a Bhubaneswar slum, who goes to school after eating a bowl of rice mixed with water, with half an onion or a boiled potato.

* 'We don't have a BPL card so we have to get rice from the local market at Rs 20 per kilo and 'dal' at Rs 80 a kilo. Can you imagine how difficult it is for us to survive?'

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France:
C'est la Vie: Immigrant Lebanese Woman in France
By Maria Sarkis

Victims of the civil war in their home country, many Lebanese women now live in France. What is it like to escape from the turmoil and gender inequalities back home? Is cultural integration into the ways of their adopted country easy? Have they experienced racism? What are their dreams for the future? In this unusual feature, Lebanese immigrant women in Paris reveal their experiences.

* "The war determined the departure of my family. The situation was to be temporary and the temporary remains, even though 25 years have passed."

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Canada:
Mental Health: Lost In Translation
By Naunidhi Kaur

Mental illness costs the Canadian economy a staggering $51 billion a year in health care and lost productivity. Only one-third of those who need mental health services in Canada actually receive them. For the sufferers within the immigrant communities, especially from India and Pakistan, it's even worse. They are one of the last to get help when it comes to problems like depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, substance abuse disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. Stigma, language barriers and inadequate data are just some of the reasons.

* 'People who do not speak English are less likely to receive treatment for their mental health problems and more likely to have their mental health disorders go untreated.

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India:
Do You Exist? Show Your Address to Prove It
By Ajitha Menon

With no roof above her head and no birth certificate, voter identity card nor any other documentary proof to establish that she really is human, let alone Indian, 35-year-old Rajila Khatun is one of the thousands of homeless women in Kolkata who form a floating population living out in the open - under bridges, on pavements, on railway platforms and even in exhume pipes. Victims of trafficking, eviction drives, displacement and poverty, some of these homeless women have been born on the streets and for want of any documentary evidence are bereft of the benefits of government welfare, education and jobs.

* "All members in the family, including my children, work as rag-pickers, we don't beg. But we earn only about Rs 30 per day - hardly sufficient for food. We go to the roadside taps for drinking water but it comes only thrice a day...we have no rights."

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India:
Marketing Contraception: Do Women's Bodies Matter?
By Nandini Rao

When a group of students made a short film, 'Pill and I', tracing the path emergency contraception has taken since it was first introduced in India, they brought to the fore the interplay of powerful forces that look at women's bodies as a battleground for the market. Even as pharmaceutical companies have managed to advertise oral emergency contraceptives, such as I-Pill and Unwanted-72, as safe and easily accessible, without throwing much light on the contraindications or on the fact that the products are emergency and not routine contraception, the film questions each player's accountability: The individual, the corporates and the state.

* "...since there was no mention of the number of times one could safely use the emergency contraceptive pill, young users did not hesitate to use it regularly."

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India:
Living Behind Bars - Women Tell Their Stories
By Shwetha E. George

What do Meenakshi, Sarojini and Rakkamma have in common? All three are Tamil-speaking, under 40 and living under one roof. No, they are not relatives but inmates of the Women's Cell at the Kottayam Sub-Jail. Accused of petty theft, all three are migrants, among the many who come to Kerala from the neighbouring states during the summers to make some quick money on the streets but end up behind bars even faster. It is poverty and a lack of opportunity that pushes these women into pickpocketing and most of them get involved in the begging racket being run by local goons. But if life on the streets is tough, an existence behind prison walls, too, is no easy ride. There's a heavy price to be paid physically, mentally and emotionally. Imagine not knowing when and if you'd be set free; imagine living without the children for whom you decided to steal; imagine falling ill and no one really caring to see what's wrong with you.

* 'We do it (pickpocket) only to save our children from starvation. (Here) we simply talk. We eat our three meals. We cry ourselves to sleep.'

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India:
'I Want a Different Life, But Give Me Options.' Sex Workers And Rehab
By Amrita Nandy

'Training is fine but they must give us houses to live in and find us work too'; 'If the new job can give me as much money as this one, I am willing to give this up. But I do not hate this work'; 'It is best to allow sex workers who wish to continue be and improve their living conditions.' The Supreme Court has recently directed state governments to come up with a plan to rehabilitate sex workers who want to leave the profession through training and vocational programmes. But while many sex workers are positive about the ongoing deliberations they have their own ideas on rehabilitation. Sonam, Payal, Lalli, Fauzia... they all have something to say. Read on.

* 'I am 54. This is no age for sex work but do I have an option? I tried stitching clothes but I could barely survive. Sex work gives a woman better money but takes away her 'izzat' (honour) and family. I want 'izzat' now.'

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India:
Census And The Child Sex Ratio: Where Have All The Young Girls Gone?
By Syeda Hameed

Some things never change - like disdain for the girl child. This uncomfortable truth was driven home when the latest figure of India's Child Sex Ratio (CSR) from the 2011 census was revealed. In fact, the CSR has registered a downward slide since 1961 - hitting an all time low of 914 in the present census. We talk about development in all its avatars but what will it be worth if there continues to be over 60 million missing women and girls in India, asks Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission, in this searing comment piece. Herself the fourth girl child in her family, whose birth was considered a sad event by everybody except her father, Dr Hameed argues it is time a mass movement was launched nationally to save India's girls, one marked by the same universal concern that was recently on display over the issue of corruption.

* 'I often wonder at the fact that while many issues electrify the nation and people work themselves into frenzy, saving the girl child is one concern that has had minimal impact.'

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Jordan:
Child Brides And The Marriage Trap In Jordan
By Iqbal Tamimi

Fawzeya, a 70-year-old Palestinian-Jordanian woman living in a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan, raised her two daughters with an iron hand. She forbade them to read novels because they would be corrupting. She worked them hard at house chores, having them re-scrub floors and re-clean everything. If she exhausted them, then they would have no energy left for boy trouble or "other nonsense". Under their mother's tyrannical domination, the daughters dreamed of escape through the only available route - marriage - and as soon as possible. What kind of mother sets her daughters on this path in life? Fawzeya's story suggests that her experiences as a child bride made her behave like this. (By arrangement with Women's eNews.)

* After marrying young to flee their mother's (Fawzeya's) oppression, both daughters were forced to leave school and found themselves bound to incompatible partners.

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India:
Tackling Child Mortality? Let's Do It By Kulsum Mustafa

India's high child malnutrition levels are distressing and are now the focus of global attention. This is why Saira Begum's work in Kamaalganj, located in the heartland state of Uttar Pradesh, assumes such importance. As part of UNICEF's Social Mobilising Network in a region where Muslims account for half the population, Saira touches the lives of thousands of children through the Bal Swasthya Poshan Mah, a bi-annual government programme. The intervention seeks to reach children in the 0-5 age group through the 'anganwadi' network, providing them with a vital dose of Vitamin A, and ensuring routine immunisations. Mothers are also counselled on nutritional matters. However, the programme has its share of problems, and unless these are addressed the missionary zeal of women like Saira could prove ineffectual.

* "We do not leave out weddings and fairs. These are big gatherings and we project our health messages to the people gathered there."

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India:
Teenage Pregnancy: Bengal's Dilemma
By Ajitha Menon

Swapna Majhi, 26, of Dhosa Chandaneswar village in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, gave birth to a stillborn at 15 and lost one more baby at 17. Emotional trauma aside, physically she became so weak that the twins born to her when she was 21 are still unhealthy. When her boyfriend insisted on having sex, Kolkata-based Sudha Mitra, 15, could not refuse. She became pregnant and had to go in for an abortion, which was harrowing. Majhi's and Mitra's stories are different and yet similar because they indicate that in West Bengal teenage pregnancies are a disturbing reality - the state has the highest number of teen pregnancies in India. From early marriage to peer pressure the reasons may vary but there is an urgent need to talk to teens about sex and the need to develop in them an appreciation for their bodies.

* "My son was born when I was 17. Since then, I have been suffering chronic back pain. The doctor says it's due to my early pregnancy. I was unaware of the health problems that would occur else I would not have married at that age."

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India:
The Trial Of A Vaccine Trial
By Sarojini N. and Anjali S

The vaccine against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) was administered to 14,000 girls between 10 and 14 years in three mandals of Andhra Pradesh's (AP) Khammam district. In a similar project, on August 13, 2009, the Gujarat government administered three doses of the HPV vaccine to 16,000 girls in the same age group, in three blocks of Vadodara district. So far, there have been six reported deaths following the vaccination. A team of women activists from three organisations - Sama, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan and Anthra - visited the project site, Bhadrachalam, in AP to conduct an inquiry. Their investigation revealed that this so-called 'demonstration project' was a calculated violation of all existing protocols on clinical trials, and a breach of child rights.

* "Since it was a vaccine being given by the government, we all trusted it blindly and considered it reliable, like any other vaccine that is given in the immunisation programme."

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