The Human Impact

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”.

Sporting long, curled moustaches, large turbans and gold studs in their ears, old men idled on charpoys outside, smoking beedis under the shade of trees.

They told me they were from the Saraniya community – a once nomadic group who inhabited the arid landscape of Gujarat and the neighbouring Rajasthan.

Invest in women in conflict zones to promote change

Where would you put your money as an investor? A leading campaigner against gender-based violence says there is only one answer – invest it in women in conflict zones.

“Conflict zones have the biggest potential for change,” Eve Ensler, founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women, told delegates at the Skoll World Forum for Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford last week.

“If I were an investor I’d invest in conflict zones and women who live there,” said Ensler, author of the award-winning play, “The Vagina Monologues.”

“No choice” for Afghan girls brought up as boys

In Afghanistan’s largely conservative, male-dominated society, a son is often viewed as a family’s most valuable resource.

So important for the family’s reputation that the parents sometimes decide to raise one of their daughters as a boy.

“When you don’t have a son in Afghanistan…people question the good life that you have,” BBC Persian reporter Tahir Qadiry told me in London last week.

After 20 years: still no aid for Bosnian rape and torture victims

Nearly two decades after war ended in Bosnia and Herzegovina, hundreds of women who survived rape and torture in the conflict are still seeking reparations and justice, with only 40 cases of sexual violence having been prosecuted so far, an Amnesty International report says.

“Justice is not only about seeing the perpetrators punished, but it’s also being able to function in everyday life,” Elena Wasylew, the campaigner for Amnesty’s Balkan team, told TrustLaw in a telephone interview from Sarajevo, where the report is being released on Thursday.

“When you ask the women, what does justice mean to you, they say justice means ‘I can access healthcare, that my children can access healthcare, that I can go to work and I don’t have to be ashamed about what happened to me,’” said Wasylew, who has worked closely with women survivors in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) over the last several years.

Introducing ‘The Human Impact’

Two Congolese boys comfort each other in a hospital in Goma, Feb. 10, 2009. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

Welcome to “The Human Impact”, a new blog by journalists of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters.

Based in far-flung corners of the world, these reporters work for the Foundation’s free global news services: the AlertNet humanitarian website and TrustLaw, an online hub for news and information on good governance, women’s rights and pro bono legal assistance.

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