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Backgrounders

Women : Background & Perspective

By Sujata Madhok

 Women

There are several clear indicators of the fact that Indian women continue to be discriminated against: the sex ratio is skewed against them; maternal mortality is the second-highest in the world; more than 40 per cent of women are illiterate; and crimes against women are on the rise. Yet, the women's movement which gathered strength after the 1970s, has led to progressive legislation and positive change, spurred on by the participationof women in local self-government.


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Analysis

Falling child sex ratio: Death before birth

By Usha Rai

falling sex ratioAs pressure under PCPNDT builds up on diagnostic clinics and doctors, is there a danger of a return to female infanticide, asks Usha Rai, at the end of a year-long campaign in 23 states on the falling child sex ratio

As a journalist writing on social issues I was shocked when I travelled through Salem district of Tamil Nadu over 20 years ago to report on female infanticide. Then a trip to Bihar revealed that the practise was alive and thriving there too with the dais delivering the babies given the responsibility of killing it if it was a girl.
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Features

Listening now

By Anindita Sengupta

counselling for rape survivors

There is a severe paucity of counselling services for survivors of sexual violence in India. Organisations like CEHAT and RAHI are trying to plug a gigantic gap in the mental health system in India

When Lalita* was raped by her 18-year-old nephew, she did not know that filing a case would have dramatic social consequences. The morning after the attack, Lalita went to Rajawadi Hospital, a government-run hospital in Mumbai.

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Books & Reports

A landscape of unbelongers

By Sharmila Joshi

Why Loiter: Women and Risk on Mumbai Streets is about the myriad ways in which women continue to be relegated to the spatial margins of a ‘globalising’ city, and the growing list of other powerless groups – migrants, dalits, North Indians, Muslims, gays, etc -- who inhabit this landscape of unbelongers

Some years ago, when a woman was sexually assaulted in South Mumbai, allegedly by the son of an industrialist, the news media speculated gratuitously: she may have had a drink, she was wearing a skirt, and why was she out at 2.30 at night?  She was ‘suspected’ of being a sex worker, the media quoted the police as saying.

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»A limited liberation By Madhumita Bose
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»Women's work: Never done and poorly paid By Nirmala Banerji
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Changemakers

The spirit of satyagraha

By Biju Negi

Valliamma Munuswami Mudaliar, forgotten heroine of the satyagraha

Valliamma Munuswami Mudaliar, forgotten heroine of the satyagraha movement against racism and injustice in South Africa, died 100 years ago. She was only 16

February 22, 2014 marked the 70th death anniversary of Kasturba Gandhi. That was 1944, one- and-a-half years into the Quit India Movement, and she was in prison. She was arrested on  August 9, 1942, the very first day of the Quit India Movement. Mahatma Gandhi had already been taken into custody the previous evening.

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»"We are women too..." By Moushumi Basu
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»A space of their own By Sujata Madhok
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Judicial Interventions and Women

Marriage and divorce: mental cruelty by the wife

By Rakesh Shukla

Mental crueltyIn this case of granting a divorce on grounds of mental cruelty by the wife, the Supreme Court seems to have gone out of its way to change the parameters of what constitutes mental cruelty on the part of the woman. It could have far-reaching consequences for future cases.

The courts are chock-a-bloc full of divorce petitions by women on grounds of mental cruelty by their husbands. Reflecting gender realities in society, it is rare to come across a case involving mental cruelty by the wife.

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Stories of Change

Changing men for gender equity

By Romit Chowdhury

Praajak, a Kolkata-based NGO which has been working with boys and men for more than a decade now, considers challenging the social construction of patriarchal masculinity a crucial route to achieving the goal of gender equity

The spaces of gender intervention, be they in social work practice or in academia, have largely been inhabited by women. Since women are most disadvantaged by an unequal gender order, it is frequently assumed that their empowerment will proceed most profitably by focusing on women alone.

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»The power of Kali
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News

First case of infanticide against family registered in Rajasthan

There are just 13 girls in the village of Devra. A possible 14th could have been the victim of the widespread practice of female infanticide

In 1997, Devra village in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district reported the first marriage of a girl belonging to a local family in over 100 years. Jaswant Kanwar survived to reach marriageable age in a village where female infanticide was ritually and ruthlessly practised. A newspaper article at the time stated that there were just two other little girls in the village.

Now, more than 14 years later, an investigation has been launched into the reported infanticide of Jaswant’s niece.

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Statistics

Life Expectancy and Infant Mortality Rates for Selected Indian States

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Some Facts About Indian Women

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Health, Fertility and Awareness Indicators for Women

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Statewise Total Female Population (rural &urban) in the Workforce

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Third Wave

Delhi’s winter of discontent…Becomes a spring of hope

By Manjima Bhattacharjya

MolestationThe nation-wide protests after the gang rape in Delhi have finally broken the silence around sexual violence, put women’s rights on the political agenda, and established that rape is not a sexual act but a legally punishable crime.

An innocuous SMS brought it to my notice. “Switch on the TV News.” Nothing could have prepared me for the images I was about to see. Thousands (I repeat, thousands) of people, largely young college students, had gathered in the heart of Delhi outside the security cordon that encloses Rashtrapati Bhavan.

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Women in night schools

Good girls don’t loiter

By Ditilekha Sharma

education for womenWalk purposefully, don’t loiter, dress modestly, take the crowded road or train, hide yourself behind a burkha....Despite all their negotiations, safety in public spaces is a big challenge for women who attend night schools in Mumbai.

Dipali Gambhire, a student of Modern Night High School, Mumbai Central, says she is not afraid of travelling back to Peddar Road alone after school. As we walk back to her home together one night she explains that as a mehendi artist she is used to returning home late during the marriage season.

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