The Human Impact

PHOTOBLOG: Women in India’s capital resort to self-defence after gang rape

Women in India’s capital Delhi are gearing up for self-defence little over a month after a 23-year-old student was raped on a private bus in the city and left dying on a highway.

The episode sparked public outrage in India, where many women say they cannot rely on the country’s often gender-insensitive and under-resourced police force to ensure their security.

Now, women are mostly scared of taking buses or rickshaws alone at night and have started booking cabs with female drivers, taking self-defence classes and stocking up on pepper sprays.

Above, a woman waits at a bus stop in New Delhi.

“I made the decision to use public transport as my primary way of moving through the city because I really believe that it is my right to be able to use public space, just as much as it is of any man’s,” Simrat, a 24-year-old who works for a non-profit arts organisation, said.

“Not using the metro or an auto or a bus or a cycle rickshaw (because it might not be a safe thing to do) is not an option in my mind because if I stop myself from living my life in ways that are most convenient to me, I’m giving in to fear and ceding my independence,” Simrat added. “I use the metro because it’s the most convenient travel option for me and I will continue to do so”.

Public fury over gang-rape in India: Let’s keep up the pressure

So perhaps at last India has woken up to the daily abuse that its girls and women face.

Sunday night’s horrific rape where a 23-year-old woman was beaten and gang-raped on a bus as it drove through the streets of New Delhi has rightly outraged the entire nation.

In a country where news reports of sexual violence against girls and women are commonplace, yet provoke little public reaction, the events over the last four days have been unusual but welcome.

Dial-a-maid, get-a-slave in middle class India

When I arrived in India some years back as a single mother and full-time journalist, there was one thing I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about – finding domestic help.

Maids, nannies, drivers, cooks and cleaners are ten-a-penny amongst the urban middle classes here.

In New Delhi’s neighbourhoods, for example, most families employ full- or part-time help, who do everything from feeding and bathing babies and cooking family meals to sweeping and washing floors.

In India, rapists walk free as victims “shamed” into suicide

Of course, it’s hard to imagine being raped (and who would want to). But just for a minute try and think about it.

Imagine you are returning home from work, walking down a busy road in early hours of the evening, perhaps from the train station or the bus stop to your home as you usually do.

Suddenly a car pulls up slightly ahead of you and as you walk by, the rear doors open and two men get out. Without any hesitation, they grab you and bundle you into the back seat.

Rage in India a spotlight on Sri Lanka’s war victims

Almost four years since Sri Lanka’s war ended, rage over the lack of rehabilitation for thousands of survivors of the bloody 25-year-long civil conflict has surfaced – not on the war-torn Indian Ocean island itself, but in neighbouring India.

India’s Tamil Nadu state — where the majority Tamil ethnic group have a close association with Tamils living across the Palk Straits in Sri Lanka – have long felt their brothers have been discriminated against by the Sinhalese-ruled government.

The war, pitting separatist Tamil Tigers against President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Sri Lankan Armed Forces, saw tens of thousands of mainly Tamil civilians in the north and east of the island killed or injured, and hundreds of thousands were displaced.

Prostitution: their bodies, their rights

It is seen as a job no woman would want to do. A job no woman would willingly do.

Yet, spending time in one of Asia’s largest red light districts gives a view of prostitution that jars with what many feminists, gender rights activists and, in fact, society in general believe.

The Sonagachi district – a labyrinth of narrow bustling lanes lined with tea and cigarette stalls, three-storey brothels, and beauty parlours – in the east Indian city of Kolkata raises eyebrows with many who know this place.

Acid attacks: the faceless women you can’t forget

Since I met her over a week ago, I have been unable to forget.

Every morning as I put on my lipstick and black eyeliner in front of the mirror, I am reminded of her face. Or lack of it.

Sonali Mukherjee, 27, is one of hundreds of women across the world who have lost their faces, and their will to survive, as a result of one of the most heinous crimes against women I have come across: Acid violence.

Nine years ago, three men broke into Sonali’s home in the east Indian city of Dhanbad as she slept, and threw concentrated acid over her face.

Mobile technology boosts water security for the poor

 

Information technology is a powerful tool for experts working to provide secure access to water for personal use, food production and business in developing nations.

Giving poor people proper access to safe water and sanitation would save  2.5 million people a year from dying from diarrhoea and other diseases spread by a lack of hygiene, according to charity WaterAid.

The widespread availability of mobile phones has enabled the development of low-cost solutions aimed at improving water security and reducing poverty.

Man’s world: poll highlights best and worst G20 countries for women

When heads of state from the Group of 20 most industrialised nations gather for their annual summit in Mexico next week, there’ll be four women in the family photograph.

Take a look at national parliaments and corporate boardrooms across much of the G20 and the male-to-female ratio doesn’t get much better – and in some cases it’s a lot worse.

Yes, women’s rights have come far in past decades but the statistics show we still live in a man’s world.

Does marriage stop prostitution? Indian village thinks so

Is marriage a guarantee that a woman won’t be prostituted?

It’s a question that played heavily on my mind recently when I went to the remote village of Wadia in India’s western region of Gujarat to cover a mass wedding and engagement ceremony of 21 girls, which was aimed at breaking a centuries-old tradition of prostitution.

I arrived in the small, neglected hamlet on the eve of the big ceremony. Preparations were well underway.

Soon-to-be-brides sat inside the mud-walled compounds of their homes surrounded by singing female relatives, with “haldi” or turmeric paste smeared on the faces and arms – a South Asian pre-wedding ritual believed to make the skin “glow”.

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