Fact finding Report Akhi Shutrodhor allegedly killed over dowry demands

Akhi Shutrodhor (20) was from the Maijhail Mistripara village of Belkuchi upazilla of Sirajganj  district. Her family alleged that at around 1:30 in the night of December 21, 2011 Akhi’s  husband Sri Ashim Shutrodhor and the members of his family killed Akhi by suffocating her. Akhi’s elder brother, Sri Bipul Kumar Shutrodhor filed a case in Belkuchi Police Station of  Sirajganj as a plaintiff against 12 people. The case is numbered-10, dated- 21/12/2011, under   sections 302/34/109 of the Penal Code Section 302 of the Penal Code, 1860 provides for punishments for murder; section 34 provides penalties for several
persons committing an offence with a common intention and section 109 provides punishment for abetment of a crime) . On December 22, 2011 police arrested Akhi’s aunt-inlaw, Komla Rani Shutrodhor and she was sent to Sirajganj District Jail. The main person  accused, Akhi’s husband Ashim Shutrodhor was absconding. However, on January 22, 2011 ten
of the accused persons were awarded two months anticipatory bail.
Odhikar conducted a fact finding mission into the matter. During this, they interviewed:
• Relatives of the deceased
• Neighbors
• Doctor
• Investigating officer 

Sri Bipul Kumar Shutrodhor, Akhi’s elder brother
Sri Bipul Kumar Shutrodhor told Odhikar that Akhi was married to Ashim Shutrodhor, son of Sri Vasha Shutrodhor of Maijhail Mistripara village of Belkuchi upazilla on June 27, 2010. He informed that at the time of the marriage they gave 25 thousand taka and 2 carats of gold ornaments to Ashim as dowry and assured him that they would give 10 thousand taka more.
After the marriage, Ashim used to beat Akhi and repeatedly remind her of the rest of the dowry money yet to be paid. Moreover, he used to abuse her physically and verbally. When Ashim’s family was informed about this, they also abused Akhi. That is why; Akhi informed him and her father and asked for the money to be given. Since her family took loans for Akhi’s marriage, they were facing a financial crisis and were unable to pay. Moreover, at the time of the delivery  of Akhi’s son, her brother spent almost 35 thousand taka. Even this 35 thousand taka was a loan.
At around 1.30 in the night of December 21, 2011 Akhi’s brother-in-law, Polash called Bipul Kumar and said that Akhi was dead. Akhi’s family reached her in-laws house at around three in the night. There they saw Akhi’s body lying on a bed. They saw that her left toe had been injured and there were scratch marks on her body. Then Bipul Kumar asked Akhi’s mother-in-law what happened. Akhi’s mother-in-law, Alo Rani Shutrodhor told him that Akhi committed suicide by hanging herself. However, one of Akhi’s aunt-in-law’s, Komla Rani told them that she had suffered a heart attack. Listening to their inconsistent information, he asked his cousin, Gobindo to inform the Belkuchi Police Station and on hearing this, Ashim’s father and uncles wanted to physically assault them. In the morning, police came to take the body to the morgue. Bipul said that Ashim and his family killed Akhi over dowry.

Mosammat Asma Khatun, Ashim’s neighbor
Mosammat Asma Khatun told Odhikar that at around one in the morning of December 21, 2011 she heard a scream from Ashim’s house and rushed over. Going there she saw that Akhi’s body was lying on the bed and Ashim’s mother was pouring water on Ashim’s head. Ashim’s mother Alo Rani told her that Akhi had gone to bed after dinner. When Akhi’s son started crying she went to call Akhi, but found her dead. Asma also said that nobody had told her that Akhi had committed suicide or had died of a heart attack. Then Akhi’s family came while she was still there and Ashim’s mother said that Akhi committed suicide while Ashim’s aunt said that Akhi had a heart attack

 Shondha Rani Das, Ashim’s neighbor

Shondha Rani Das told Odhikar that at around 1:00 in the night of December 21, 2011 she heard a very loud uproar from Ashim’s house. Going there she saw many people and asked Ashim’s father what happened. Vasha Shutrodhor said that Ashim’s wife might have had a heart attack and she died. Shondha Rani said that Akhi’s left toe was injured.
Dr. Robiul Islam, Residential Medical Officer, Sirajganj Sadar Hospital
Dr. Robiul Islam told Odhikar that at 11:00 in the morning of December 21, 2011 Akhi’s body was brought into the morgue. He said that he clearly mentioned in the post-mortem report that she died by suffocation.
Sub Inspector, Kamrul Islam, the Investigating Officer, Belkuchi Police Station, Sirajganj
Sub Inspector Kamrul Islam told Odhikar that at around 6:00 in the morning of December 21,
2011 Akhi’s cousin came to the Belkuchi Police Station to inform them of the incident. He went to Ashim’s house with his police force. At that time, neither Ashim nor his family members were present. They took Akhi’s body to the morgue. Then he took Ashim’s aunt, Komla Rani Shutrodhor to the Police Station for interrogation. Komla Rani informed him that Ashim told her that Akhi slept at around 12.30 after dinner. When their child started crying, he called Akhi but she did not wake up. After that Ashim called his parents and other family members. They found Akhi dead. Komla Rani told SI Kamrul that they thought she had suffered a heart attack.Later on, Akhi’s brother Bipul filed a case as a plaintiff against 12 people in total including from Ashim’s family, his paternal aunt, Komla Rani Shutrodhor; father, Vasha Shutrodhor; mother, Alo Rani Shutrodhor; brother, Ashik Shutrodhor; paternal uncle, Ronjit Shutrodhor; brother’s,Bablu Shutrodhor, Polash Shutrodhor, Prokash Shutrodhor; maternal uncles, Poresh Shutrodhor,Shopon Shutrodhor and Liton Shutrodhor and against Ashim Shutrodhor himself. Then Sub Inspector Kamrul Islam sent Komla Rani to Sirajganj District Jail. He said that based on the post-mortem report and his investigating experience, he believes that there was no one but Ashim and Akhi in the room, so he is assuming that Ashim suffocated Akhi. He said that he would arrest the main accused, Ashim as soon as possible.

ASM Nasiruddin Elan
Phone: 88 02 9888587
Cell: 88-01749293789
http://www.odhikar. org

PPPs also come within the ambit of ‘public authorities’ as defined in the RTI Act

PPPs envisage a certain degree of government control in their functioning so that the decisions taken are in accordance with the objectives for which the partnership was set up. Therefore PPPs also come within the ambit of ‘public authorities’ as defined in the RTI Act enabling citizens to know or obtain information about them, the CIC said

Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Shailesh Gandhi said citizens have a right to know about PPPs (public-private partnerships), which directly or indirectly envisage a partnership with public funds. He also ruled that any entity which has received finance or grant of over Rs1 crore from the government would constitute ‘substantial financing’ rendering such entity a public authority under the RTI Act.

In an order issued on 14th February, the CIC said, “At present, most PPPs do not even accept the applicability of the RTI Act to them and wait for the issue to be adjudicated upon at the commission’s level. For this some citizen has to pursue this matter. Such practices are required to be brought to a minimum and PPPs must comply with the provisions of the RTI Act.”

The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), a ‘public-private partnership’ (PPP) that was not ready to submit itself to the RTI Act, 2005, has now finally surrendered and is to be brought under the Act. This follows the decision given by Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), Shailesh Gandhi, where he asked PHFI to appoint a public information officer (PIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) under the RTI Act by 15 March 2012.

According to Kapil Bajaj, who represented Kishan Lal, the petitioner, during the hearing, PHFI has no other option but to comply with the provision of the RTI Act. “PHFI has not suddenly realised after being taken to the Information commission that it would like to ‘voluntarily’ submit itself to the law but because it has been clearly shown to be a public authority under Section 2(h),” he said.

Mr Gandhi also asked the Health Foundation to pay a compensation of Rs3,000 to Mumbai-based activist Kishan Lal. Last year, Mr Lal filed an application under the RTI Act, seeking information about PHFI. However, PHFI said that it is an autonomous body duly registered under the provisions of the Societies Registration Act of 1860 and as a PPP it is not a ‘public authority’ as defined under the RTI Act, 2005. The Health Foundation further stated that as it is a completely autonomous institution, is not covered under the provisions of the said Act.

During the hearing, the CIC found out that one-sixth of the 30 members of the governing board of PHFI are public servants or senior official from the Union government. PHFI, however, claimed that most of the government officials on its board are occupying the positions in their ‘personal capacity’.

Terming the claim of PHFI as ‘untenable’, Mr Gandhi, in his order said, “It is difficult to assume that senior public servants can be on the board of an organisation like PHFI-which has numerous interactions with the government, in private capacity. In fact, this would necessarily imply a conflict of interest. The commission can only assume that such public servants must necessarily be acting on behalf of the government-when they are required to take executive decisions as members of the board-in a public-private partnership such as PHFI. Any other conclusion would be an improper slur on their integrity. It is not possible that India’s leading public servants could be acting in any manner, but as representatives of the government when they are on the board of PHFI. It is also true that significant funding is provided by the government to PHFI. Hence, it is presumed that the five officials on the board of PHFI are discharging their duties as public servants.”

During the hearing, Mr Lal placed before the CIC, a report submitted to the Rajya Sabha in 2007 by the Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare. The report stated, “The Government of India is contributing Rs65 crore, approximately one-third of the initial seed capital required for kick-starting the PHFI and for establishment of two schools of public health. The remaining amount (approximately Rs135 crore) is being raised from outside the government, namely, Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation (Rs65 crore) and from high net-worth individuals. PHFI is managed by an independent governing board that includes three members from the ministry of health and family welfare viz. secretary (H&FW); DG ICMR and DGHS. Mr TKA Nair principal secretary to the prime minister, Dr MS Ahluwalia, vice-chairman, Planning Commission; Sujata Rao, AS&PD, NACO, ministry of health; Dr Mashelkar, DG CSIR are also members of the governing board. The presence of the officials from the government would ensure that the decisions taken by PHFI are in consonance with the objectives for which PHFI has been supported by the Government of India. It is expected that all members of the governing board would ensure the functioning of the foundation as a professional organization and with complete transparency.”

The CIC observed that the Parliamentary Standing Committee also assumed that the vice-chairman of the Planning Commission, principal secretary to the prime minister and other public servants were ensuring that decisions of PHFI were in consonance with the government’s objectives and complete transparency. “PHFI’s refusal to accept its coverage by the RTI Act seems at variance with this,” he noted.

PHFI admitted that it was set up in 2006 with an initial fund corpus of Rs200 crore (at present Rs219 crore), out of which Rs65 crore were provided as grant by the ministry of health and family welfare (MH&FW). The CIC noted that the funding of about 30% from the government cannot be considered as insubstantial. “…a grant of Rs65 crore given by the government from its corpus of public funds cannot be considered as insignificant and would render PHFI as being ‘substantially financed’ byfunds from the government,” he said in the order.

Commenting that citizens have a right to know about the manner, extent and purpose for which public funds are being deployed by the government, Mr Gandhi, said, “…not every financing of an entity in the form of a grant by the government would qualify as ‘substantial’, but certainly a grant of over Rs1 crore would constitute ‘substantial financing’ rendering such entity a public authority under the RTI Act.”

In another significant ruling, the CIC said that PPPs, by their very nature, stipulate certain contributions by the government such as giving land at a concessional rate, grants and monopoly rights. In cases such as grants, direct funding by the government can be easily calculated. In cases such as giving monopoly rights or land at a concessional rate, value(s) must be attached and the same would tantamount to indirect financing by the government. In other words, PPPs envisage a partnership with publicfunds-directly or indirectly- and therefore citizens have a right to know about the same, Mr Gandhi said.

Being a public-private partnership, PHFI has received a substantial grant of Rs65 crore from the government initially. Further, PHFI has been receiving free land and handsome financial grants from state governments for setting up ‘Indian Institutes of Public Health’ (IIPHs) as part of the public-private partnership. For instance, the Andhra Pradesh government provided PHFI with 43 acres of land in Rajendra Nagar area of Hyderabad free of cost and Rs30 crore in financial grant for setting up IIPH. The Gujarat government provided 50 acres in Gandhinagar and Rs25 crore in grant. The Orissa government provided 40 acres near Bhubaneswar and the Delhi government spent Rs13.82 crore on acquiring 51.19 acres of Gram Sabha land in Kanjhawala village for PHFI to set up IIPH.

“This ruling is another slap on the face of the central government, steeped as it is corruption — for implementing a policy (PPP policy) in a manner that makes a mockery of the principle of transparency and accountability to the public enshrined in the Constitution and the Parliamentary enactment in the form of the RTI Act,” added Mr Bajaj.

Is hope a fiction for India’s poor?

Soutik BiswasDelhi correspondent, BBC
More than half of Mumbai‘s people live in slums

“We try so many things,” a girl in Annawadi, a slum in Mumbai tells Katherine Boo, “but the world doesn’t move in our favour”.

Annawadi is a “sumpy plug of slum” in the biggest city – “a place of festering grievance and ambient envy” – of a country which holds a third of the world’s poor. It is where the Pulitzer prize winning New Yorker journalist Boo’s first book Behind the Beautiful Forevers is located.

Annawadi is where more than 3,000 people have squatted on land belonging to the local airport and live “packed into, or on top of” 335 huts. It is a place “magnificently positioned for a trafficker in rich’s people’s garbage”, where the New India collides with the Old.

Nobody in Annawadi is considered poor by India’s official benchmarks. The residents are among the 100 million Indians freed from poverty since 1991, when India embarked on liberalising its economy.

‘Garbage justice’

Boo’s story – a stirring and gritty non-fiction narrative, one of the best ever written by a foreigner on India – revolves around the self-immolation of a cantankerous, one-legged slum woman called Fatima Sheikh and how her neighbour and a hardworking, young garbage trader called Abdul and his family are framed on a charge of murdering her. Fatima’s death is a liberation from enervating poverty, and a chance for some neighbours to make money from Abdul’s family, who are making a bit more money than the rest from selling recyclables.

This is when Abdul realises that the Indian criminal justice system was a “market like garbage” – “innocence and guilt could be bought and sold like a kilo of polyurethane bags”.

Boo adopted what she calls the “vagrant-sociology approach” and followed Abdul and his neighbours of this unexceptional slum over the course of several years – November 2007 to March 2011 – to see “who got ahead and who didn’t, and why, as India prospered”.

Katherine Boo’s narrative is gripping and well-researched

She used more than 3,000 public records, many obtained using India’s right to information law, to validate her narrative, written in assured reported speech. The account of the hours leading to the self-immolation of Fatima Sheikh derives from repeated interviews of 168 people as well as police, hospital, morgue and court records. Mindful of the risk of over interpretation, the books wears its enormous research lightly.

Boo’s narrative is peopled by a vast range of gripping characters from Annawadi, the world from which New India shies away. An aspiring slum boss woman who volunteers for a local Hindu right wing party. A man who paints his horses with stripes and rents out the fake zebras to birthday parties of middle-class children. A corrupt nun who runs a children’s home. A deranged man who talks to a luxury hotel building skirting the slum.

Then there’s a bunch of young scavengers and thieves, ravaged by rats and high on white correction fluid, who live, work and die quickly. They are the young flotsam that India breathlessly parades as its demographic dividend when, in reality, the children, tired and brutalised, are already past their sell-by-date.


The people of Annawadi are also caught up in the hideous web of corruption and official venality which hurts the poor most, and lead utterly dehumanising lives in a city that aspires to become India’s Shanghai. It is far removed from the dreadful stereotype of the happy-poor Mumbai ofSlumdog Millionaire.

Read more here



18-year-old killed in Haveri: human sacrifice of a dalit worker

Grief-stricken parents of a murdered 18-year-old have alleged that their son was a victim of human sacrifice in Thirumaladevarakoppa village near Ranebennur town in Haveri district on November 26, 2011, carried out by his employer and his family to ward off evil from their newly constructed house on the advice of a sorcerer.

The complaint by the parents, Bharamappa and Manjavva Kademani, has been received by the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), which has initiated an inquiry into the incident.

The parents have alleged that their son, Basavaraj Kademani, a dalit was employed as a tractor driver by Basavana Gowda, a landlord and moneylender, who had recently constructed a house into which he had shifted along with his sons, Ningana Gowda and Rangana Gowda, along with their families.

But a series of strange incidents started occurring after they shifted into the new house, including the house developing cracks and construction workers sustaining injuries while rebuilding it.

The Gowda family viewed this as ‘inauspicious’ and attributed the occurrences to the presence of evil spirits in the house.
The family, in consultation with a sorcerer called Taatu Ajja, had performed a ritual that involved burying a boar alive to drive the evil spirits away. The parents allege in their complaint that while conducting the ritual the Gowda family had taken the help of Basavaraj, a trusted employee of the Gowda family. But the bad times that had fallen upon Basavana Gowda’s family did not recede.

And Basavaraj least expected that his employer, on the advice of the sorcerer, would choose him for a human sacrifice, allege Basavaraj’s parents.

On the night of November 26, Basavaraj was summoned by his employer. What happened there remains a mystery, but Basavana Gowda’s son Ningana was seen that night trying to burn Basavaraj’s body in the fields on the outskirts of Thirumaladevarakoppa village. The presence of villagers deterred Ningana from burning the body, but the police said he had poured kerosene and fled the scene before setting it ablaze.

Later that night, Ningana surrendered to the police along with his uncle, Huchappa, admitting that he had killed Basavaraj after he found him with his wife in a compromising position, and that he could not control his anger.

But Basavaraj’s body, covered in vermillion and turmeric, and bearing a hole in the skull and his left eye gouged out, indicates a more sinister plot that may have led to Basavaraj’s death. His parents said it is a human sacrifice performed at the behest of the sorcerer Taatu Ajja.

They also allege that blood sprinkled on walls and ceilings of the house indicate that it was a part of a human sacrifice ritual to drive away evil spirits. Bharamappa and Manjavva Kademani also cannot believe Ningana’s version that Basavaraj was found with his wife in a compromising position.

They say their son had not taken his salary from his employers as he had thought it better to keep his monies in their custody and withdraw a consolidated amount from them whenever he decided to marry. The parents are now running from pillar to post, hoping for justice for their dead son. But deputy superintendent of police (Haveri district) Jayaprakash said it is a case pertaining to murder for revenge rather than anything else as the accused had surrendered and confessed. State Human Rights Commission, registrar, KH Malleshappa said that they have received a complaint in this regard.

Hello! Delhi Police women’s helpline gets lewd, abusive calls

New Delhi, (IANS) “Are you single or married?”, “What’s your phone number, sweetie”, “Main tumse shadi karna chahta hoon”… are some of the pesky calls that female cops handling Delhi Police’s women’s helpline have to contend with daily.

Over 40 percent of the female cops who handle the women’s helpline receive abusive or obscene calls. The callers are not even deterred by the fact that they are speaking to policewomen.

Set up more than five years ago to protect the capital’s women from abuse and harassment, the helpline — 1091 — receives around 60 to 70 calls daily. At one time, there are four women constables handling the helpline in each eight-hour shift. A total of 12 women police work round the clock in three shifts.

Of the daily calls, over 40 percent consists of men being abusive to the female operators or indulging in lewd talk, Additional Commissioner of Police (Police Control Room) G.C. Dwivedi told IANS.

“On a daily basis 21 percent of the calls they (women cops) get are regarding domestic violence, 17 percent calls are regarding eve teasing and 22 percent are related to cybercrimes involving women victims,” he said.

“However, around 40 percent of the calls daily are obscene and abusive,” said Dwivedi.

According to Dwivedi, there are two categories of callers who make the 40 percent frivolous calls.

“In the first category are the people who call just for entertainment. They register false complaints and use the pretext to trouble and abuse the female operators – just for a laugh. The second category is of those who indulge in obscene chats with the operators,” said Dwivedi.

A woman helpline operator, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IANS she has been working on the helpline desk for two years and receives such calls daily.

“Such callers do not care that they are talking to a Delhi Police officer. Only youngsters make such calls from phone booths so that they are not caught,” said one of the woman constables.

According to the woman constable, some people even call up from the landline number of friends or relatives against whom they have a grudge in order to get back at them because as they know the police will take action.

However, police get the culprits in the end.

If it is an offensive call, the number and address is forwarded to the Delhi Police anti-obscene and anti-stalking cell (1096) under the crime branch. This cell was launched in 2010.

The number and address of every caller is tracked by the ‘call tracker’, said another woman cop.

“As only women operators are deputed to manage the helpline some people take undue advantage of this,” said another senior police officer who did not want to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

“But it’s not easy to escape us. We get them at the end,” the official added.

(Rajnish Kumar Singh can be contacted at rajnish.k@ians.in)

From homemaker to labour leader

Published: February 14, 2012

Party’s first female worker talks about throwing off her burqa, taking to streets.

LAHORE: “Take off your burqa (veil) and accompany me in the hunger strike tomorrow.” Those were the words with which Shamim Qayyum 

was invited by her husband, Mian Qayyum, to join the Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM) in a hunger strike in Faisalabad in 2005.

Shamim, speaking at Café Bol on Monday about organising women workers, said she had previously never imagined leaving the house.

“I was a home-maker. All I knew was that things were not going well for the labourers and that my husband was planning a hunger strike,” she told the audience.

On the third day of the strike, she recalled, her husband asked her and her three children to join him. She said she was the only woman in the strike that day. Other women and children joined the strike later. “It raised my spirits to see women coming out of their houses and supporting their men in the cause.”

After a nine-day strike, Shamim said the labourers were called in for negotiations, which were successful. She said during those nine days, a rally was led by Dr Farzana Bari, but with growing concerns of the labourers, she said, another rally had to be organised, this time led by her. Formed in 2003, the Labour Qaumi Movement aims at addressing the issues of labourers, especially those working in the power looms of Faisalabad.

Previously, Shamim’s husband, Mian Qayyum also delivered a talk about the role of women in the Labour Qaumi Movement at Cafe Bol.

Shamim said she was thankful to her husband for his support.  “It just didn’t change my life, it changed the lives of several women I would go out and talk to,” she said while talking about her decision to take off the burqa. She said at first it was difficult to convince women to stand up for their rights. However, with time these women realised that it was for their own benefit, she added.

The current energy crisis, she said, had increased the number of home-based workers. Shamim said there was a dire need to address the difficult conditions the majority of these home-based workers were working in.

She told the audience about an incident where four workers were illegally detained by the Faisalabad police and how she mobilised women workers to rally towards the police station in protest.

“On the fourth day of their detention, the workers were released,” she said. She said despite having similar skills, women labourers in the textile power loom sector were given less wages than men. She said she had organised a strike in which women refused to work at the looms unless they were paid an equal wage. Within days of the strike, she said, their demands were met.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2012.

Love is in the air for Indians as V-Day police keep away

 By- Diksha Madhok

Conservative right-wing activists in India have their own version of how Valentine’s Day should be celebrated, if at all.

For them, couples found kissing, dancing and snuggling need to be humiliated publicly or beaten, especially if this behaviour is exhibited on the “day of lust and shame”.

For more than a decade, images of couples being chased by radicals or flogged by police had become as routine on Valentine’s Day as pink hearts and roses. This was a way of protecting Indian culture from being corrupted by Western influence.

Fortunately, not many paid heed. Indians have embraced this day of love with much gusto, and their resilience has paid off. This year, many of the self-appointed custodians of Indian culture have decided to go easy on romancing couples.

“What is the use or point. We cannot stop them from celebrating, and we are getting a bad reputation,” Om Dutt Sharma, a member of prominent right-wing group Shiv Sena told local media.This resignation could be a result of the gradual depletion of media interest in their annual antics or a sign of an increasingly assertive Indian youth, who spent millions of rupees last year on Valentine’s Day — and are now using the internet to both register their discontent and also to reclaim the day.

Writer and literary critic Nilanjana S. Roy has organised a #flashreads event using social media. In an effort to “take back the day” and “protest against the rising intolerance that has spread across India”, protesters are encouraged to read works by banned writers in public areas on February 14.

Online shopping websites have not shied from using racy advertising gimmicks to promote V-Day sales. Snapdeal.com, a website similar to Groupon, will be selling a pack of condoms for a rupee the entire day and say the campaign was a hit within four hours of the launch.

“We plan to sell close to one lakh (100,000) condoms today,” says Snapdeal employee Eiti Singhal.

In a country with low condom use among unmarried couples, with reasons ranging from limited access to social stigma associated with pre-marital sex, such a campaign would have been a sure fire way to attract extremists’ wrath a few years ago.

Perhaps the day when couples can kiss without bribing a police official or fleeing a baton charge is not far — at least one can hope

What Women Really Want for Valentine’s Day

Many of the women who must rely on men for financial support are also subjected to their partners’ views on contraception. 

Valentine’s Day has long celebrated love with caring notes, decadent chocolates, and romantic arrangements of flowers. But this Valentine’s Day, perhaps it’s time to celebrate with a gift many of the world’s women desperately want and need: reproductive health.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 1,000 women die every day due to pregnancy or childbirth, or one woman every 90 seconds. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in the developing world, 90 percent in Africa and Asia. A handful of complications account for 80 percent of these maternal deaths—severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure, obstructed labor, and unsafe abortion—and the bulk of these deaths are preventable.

Reproductive health, including access to the information and means to plan a family, is a human right the world’s nations have recognized in various forms since 1968. Access to family planning and other reproductive health services safeguard the lives of women and their children and promote families that are emotionally and economically healthy.

In my book, More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want, I explore centuries of reproductive history and concludes that, if given the chance to do what they really want, women on average have smaller families, with childbirths later in their lives. This pattern is safer for women and children, and promotes environmental sustainability through the slower population growth that lower fertility rates and later births bring about.

The Health of Women and Children

The UNFPA report Women and Girls in a World of 7 Billion notes that poverty, marginalization, and gender inequalities based on culture are key challenges to reproductive health. The report relays that women own less than 15 percent of the land worldwide; their wages, on average, are 17 percent lower than men’s; and they make up two-thirds of the world’s 776 million illiterate adults.

This means that women, particularly in the developing world, must often rely on men for financial support—creating situations in which women are subject to their partners’ views on contraception, feel trapped in physically or emotionally abusive relationships, and marry and have children young instead of pursuing further education or employment outside the home. In the developing world, one in seven girls will be married before she turns 15, and worldwide, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death for girls 15–19.

Many women are not empowered to make their own decisions regarding if or when to have children, how many to have, and how long to wait in between them. Some 40 percent or more of pregnancies are unplanned, with more than 21 percent of all births resulting from such pregnancies worldwide, according to estimates of the Guttmacher Institute. If given access to family planning, and permission by their families and societies to use it, fewer women and children would die from unsafe abortions and high-risk pregnancies.

When women and girls are empowered with education and the capacity to make choices about sex, marriage and childbearing, they have opportunities to realize futures as farmers, businesswomen, politicians, or whatever dream drives them.”

The Health of the Planet

The United Nations Foundation sponsors Girl Up, an organization that encourages a world where young girls can avoid the pitfalls of too-early marriage and childbearing and can instead go to school, enjoy health and safety, and grow into the next generation of leaders. In the Amhara region of Ethiopia, where half of adolescent girls are married, Girl Up is helping to promote education for young girls. The project offers basic literacy classes, family planning information, and agricultural training.

When women and girls are empowered with education and the capacity to make choices about sex, marriage and childbearing, they have opportunities to realize futures as farmers, businesswomen, politicians, or whatever dream drives them. These benefits ripple out from the lives of individual women and girls to their families, their communities, their nations—and ultimately to the entire world.

In the Worldwatch report Population, Climate Change, and Women’s Lives, I suggest that if women are given access to increased reproductive health, they are better able to more naturally control the size of their families and counterbalance the resource depletion and pollution that are exacerbated by unabated population increases. The importance of women and the autonomy they exercise may be far greater to the climate’s future than most experts and negotiators on climate change have realized.

What Women Really Want

Reproductive health is not about state-mandated family sizes; it is about freeing women to make their own choices about when and how often to give birth. In all countries where affordable access is offered to family planning resources and women have the option of safe and legal abortions, women’s fertility rates drop to two or less children per woman. Such rates are normal for nearly half the world and are less than the “replacement fertility” rate of slightly more than two children per woman, that fuels present and future population growth.

When women are free to make their own choices, they improve their own health and that of their families. A study by the UNFPA and the Guttmacher Institute suggests that it would take US$24 billion to fulfill unmet reproductive health needs in developing countries, several times what countries spend today. According to the report, such an investment would “provide every woman with the recommended standard of maternal and newborn care” and would “[r]educe unintended pregnancies by more than 66 percent, prevent 70 percent of maternal deaths, avert 44 percent of newborn deaths, and reduce unsafe abortion by 73 percent.”

Robert Engelman  for  World Watch Institute.

India woman leaves home for lack of toilet


Anita Narre refused to go to her husband's home until he built a toilet


BBC 14th Feb,2012

A newlywed woman in a village in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has won her struggle to have a toilet at her husband’s home.

Anita Narre left husband Shivram’s home two days after her marriage in May last year because the house had no toilet.

She returned eight days later after Shivram, a daily wage worker, built one with savings and aid from villagers.

An NGO announced a $10,000 reward for Mrs Narre for her “brave” decision and forcing her husband to build a toilet.

More than half-a-billion Indians still lack access to basic sanitation.

The problem is acute in rural India and it is the women who suffer most.

Shivram said he was not able to build a toilet at home because of lack of money.

He admitted that his wife returned home only after he constructed one with his savings and “some support from the village council”.

“It is not nice for women to go outside to defecate. That’s why every home should have a toilet. Those who don’t should make sure there is one,” Mrs Narre told the BBC.

Many people in India do not have access to flush toilets or other latrines.

But under new local laws in states including Chhattisgarh, people’s representatives are obliged to construct a flush toilet in their own home within a year of being elected. Those who fail to do so face dismissal.

The law making toilets mandatory has been introduced in several states as part of the “sanitation for all” drive by the Indian government.

The programme aims to eradicate the practice of open defecation, which is common in rural and poor urban areas of India.

Special funds are made available for people to construct toilets to promote hygiene and eradicate the practice of faeces collection – or scavenging – which is mainly carried out by low-caste people

Moral Policing on Valentine’s Day

14th Feb, 2012 -A woman police constable punishes a young couple as they were celebrating Valentines Day in Dhanbad. PTI

Activists of ABVP burn the greeting cards during a protest against Valentine’s Day celebrations in Hyderabad.


Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists


Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel


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February 2012
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