World day against Trafficking in Persons 2019 by Akanksha Sharma


“I arrived at JFK with four other women and a man, and we were divided into two groups. Johnny took all my documents, including my passport, and led me to his car with two of the other women.

That was when things started to get strange.”
This is what Shandra Woworuntu, a sex-trafficking victim and survivor told BBC in an interview. Shandra Woworuntu was from Indonesia who lost a well-paid job as a result of Asian financial crisis. In dire need of money and employment, Shandra went to the US to work in the hospitality sector. But, luck had something else in store for her. In the garb of giving employment to women in the hotel industry, a huge sex-trafficking racket was being run which invited women from different parts of the world through hoax advertisements and communication channels. When the women arrived at the airport, they were taken to different hotels and brothels unknowingly. Some women had been manipulated with time to work as free prostitutes, and others like Shandra were made sex slaves who worked under duress.

Shandra, in her interview to BBC, revealed that she was constantly drugged and forced to have sex with as many customers. However, after months of hellish struggle, Shandra managed to flee from the brothel she was kept in. Shandra complained to the police and helped the other women who were kept as sex slaves. The traffickers of this racket got identified and punished.

Due to Shandra’a impeccable will, she saved herself and many other women like her. However, there are innumerable women like Shandra who are tricked into sex-trafficking and subjected to an unbearable heinous treatment. Many of such women are never able to run away from this ruthless world of sex-trafficking and the count of such women is unknown and endless.

Many of such women are never able to run away from this ruthless world of sex-trafficking and the count of such women is unknown and endless.

Human trafficking has become a commercial business which has confidential networks that are hard to trace. Shandra was one of the few fortunate women who are able to escape, but her example highlights the fact that sex-trafficking rackets are being carried on such a massive level that they have strong contacts in advertising, immigration, hospitality, and so much more.
And this becomes even harder to curb because commercial human trafficking makes billions in profits every year. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), forced labour alone generates an estimated $150 billion in profits per annum as of 2014.The International Labour Organization also states that about 4.5 million people(mostly women) worldwide are forced into sex trafficking by coercive or abusive means and escape is nearly impossible for them.

About 4.5 million people (mostly women) worldwide are forced into sex trafficking by coercive or abusive means.

Reportedly, a complex set of factors like poverty, unemployment, discrimination against women, commercial demand for sex, and globalization are responsible for sex trafficking of women. In most cases, poor and less-educated women are pushed into trafficking as they have limited access to opportunities, or more than often women enter sex trafficking,unaware.

A communication medium of sex trafficking that has emerged in the recent times is the internet.
In today’s world, globalization and the advent of internet are simplifying sex trafficking to a large extent. Reports show that explicit and untraceable sites are facilitating sex trafficking. Then social networking sites are ostensibly used for commercial sex trafficking by traffickers. What is appalling is that under-age girls are the major victims of online sex trafficking.

Centre for social Research was formed with the aim of empowerment of women in our society. Since its establishment in 1983, CSR has worked day and night to reform the society’s outlook towards women.
With the motive of development of women, CSR has taken various measures to mitigate sex-trafficking of women. In 2018, CSR organized a training session with CBI officials on anti-human trafficking. This training was conducted successfully, highlighting the role of police networks in diminishing trafficking of women.
Moreover, CSR’s director, Dr. Ranjana Kumari has served as the Coordinator of the South Asia Network Against Trafficking (SANAT) in Persons.

CSR’s director, Dr. Ranjana Kumari has served as the Coordinator of the South Asia Network Against Trafficking (SANAT) in Persons.


CSR’s other programs like Women’s Skill Development and Social surfing are generating a wave of transformation among women and youth.
CSR’s Centre for Excellence for Women’s Skill Development offers specialized trainings such as-Women’s Security Guard Training, Office Assistant Training and Sports for Girls. These programs are motivating socially immobilized women to learn skills and earn a living so that a poor financial state doesn’t force them into sex trafficking or any other such profession.
#SocialSurfing is another initiative by CSR in association with Facebook, that conducts workshops in institutions to create awareness about the critical effects of social media and safety tools present. This training assists in reducing unsafe practices online by spreading the word about privacy measures on social networks.
So, in a world where human trafficking is on a constant rise, an organization like CSR is trying to help women to lead a safe and empowered life. The current environment requires each one of us to become more aware about fake communication channels and essential safety measures.

The current environment requires each one of us to become more aware about fake communication channels and essential safety measures.

This World Day against Trafficking in Persons, Centre for Social Research asks you to stay safe and also assist in reducing human trafficking by referring CSR’s helpful programs to as many women and institutions as possible.

Read ShandraWoworuntu’s full interview here-
https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35846207

Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_trafficking#cite_note-16

Time is Running Out by Sarojini Sapru


India’s Water Crisis – Why Groundwater Recharge is Key
India’s sixth largest city Chennai, has run out of water. The NITI Aayog has released a study, stating that India is facing its worst water crisis in history, and that the demand for potable water through the country will outstrip supply by 2030 if steps are not taken. The report goes on to say that nearly 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress, and about 2 lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water. Twenty-one cities including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people. Moreover groundwater resources, which account for 40% of India’s water supply are being depleted at “unsustainable” rates and upto 70% of India’s water supply is contaminated.

This crisis is real, and it is happening now. The intensification of human activity, coupled with extreme weather events caused by climate change can lead to longer periods of droughts and floods (India is facing its worst drought in decades, resulting from a deadly heat-wave and delayed monsoons). These extreme conditions increase the demand for groundwater – which is already a critical and overexploited resource in the country. Enhancing the underground storage of water is a practical and robust measure to augment the availability of fresh water, and to enhance climate change adaption. It is therefore imperative that groundwater play a more prominent role in climate debates.

These unsustainable levels of exploitation have serious implications for the sustainability of agriculture, economic growth and livelihoods, as well as long term food security. A 2012 report by the World Bank notes that India is the largest user of groundwater in the world (“using an estimated 230 cubic kilometres of groundwater per year – over a quarter of the global total”). The report further estimated that more than 60% of irrigated agriculture and 85% of drinking water supplies are dependent on ground water. The potential social and economic consequences of continued weak or non-existent groundwater management are serious. The implications are also disturbing for a plethora of reasons: for sustaining economic growth and local livelihoods, and for environmental sustainability. The consequences will be most severe for vulnerable populations.

Noting the high percentage of irrigated agriculture that is dependent on groundwater, it is important to notes that in states, such as Rajasthan (which is one of the driest states in the country) it is primarily women who work in the fields and perform agricultural tasks and labour. However, several studies have highlighted that despite the fact that it is the women who perform the bulk of agricultural labour in fields in India, they are largely excluded from decision-making activities . The role of women in water conservation and recharge is integral. Providing women with a platform to engage with water conservation and recharge on both a policy level, as well as a ground level is essential. By acknowledging the role that women play in agriculture, and water-related work and building their capacities in this regard, so they are not “invisible workers”, women’s voices and leadership will increase, along with their participation in decision making, and therefore social and economic life. Read about CRS’s efforts towards strengthening climate action by promoting gender equality.

Source: Niti Aayog Composite Water Resources Management Report

Because kicking ‘like a girl’ is just as cool – KamyaYadav & Akanksha Sharma


Centre for Social Research is undertaking a project that is focused on empowering girls through sports. Focused on five districts of Haryana that are the most sex-skewed, that is have the worst gender ratios, the project aims to make communities in these districts understand how sports can be empowering for young girls. CSR is one of the many NGOs in India that has taken the mantle of using sports to further the development and advancement of girls in the country. How exactly do sports like football or cricket empower girls in our country, and around the world?

Over the years, a lot of journalists and media houses have covered stories of girls around the world who have used sports to move out of poverty, to gain access to healthcare and education, to advance their careers and achieve independence. In the simplest way, when girls get access to sports, via training and coaches, and they acquire a certain proficiency level in the sport they choose to play, it illuminates a pathway to education that didn’t exist before.This is through admissions into quality schools that provide scholarships to talented athletes, and to prestigious universities that have a provision for sports quotas.Educational attainment is one of the most important ways of breaking cycles of poverty, gender inequality, and creating a gateway towards financial independence.

When girls get access to sports, via training and coaches, and they acquire a certain proficiency level in the sport they choose to play, it illuminates a pathway to education that didn’t exist before.

In addition to increasing educational attainment, sports provide a medium for girls to pursue a non-traditional, alternative career, which can sometimes propel them towards international recognition as well. Many female sportspersons in India, such as GeetaPhogat and Dutee Chand, have broken the glass ceiling for women in India through their respective sports and have become vocal advocates for promoting sports for girls.

But even today, how accessible are sports to girls? More importantly, how wide is the gender gap in sports? The FIFA Women’s World Cup has been making headlines around the world, but perhaps not for the right reasons. Eclipsed by the Indian men’s cricket team’s success in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup, many in India don’t even know that the women’s football world cup is underway. And these are the same Indians who flock to Kolkata’s football clubs every day to play the ‘beautiful game’ and to the Salt Lake Stadium by the thousands to watch Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.

Eclipsed by the Indian men’s cricket team’s success in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup, many in India don’t even know that the women’s football world cup is underway.

The beautiful game, in fact, is quite ugly. Furor has surrounded the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup because of the gross and utter inequality of the FIFA Federation towards the two genders. To begin with, there exists a $370 million gender gap between the total prize money offered at this year’s Women’s World Cup and last year’s Men’s World Cup.

Below is the infographic provided by Forbes, which not only shows the disparity between the total prize money, but also between the prize money provided to the winner of the world cup. FIFA claims that this egregious disparity comes from the difference in the revenue earned by the two World Cups. But critics don’t buy this claim. They say that FIFA’s revenue books are closed off to

the public and there is no way to validate the veracity of this claim. But even beyond that, why should the revenue pulled by the same organization for two different events be split according to which event pulled more? Why can’t FIFA pool the revenue and split it equally among the two genders?

FIFA, however, is not the only one to blame. Country-wise clubs and football associations are equal perpetrators in this inequality. According to a 2017 article published by Forbes, 1693 female footballers across the top leagues of seven countries receive the same amount of pay as Neymar’s

contract for Paris St-Germain for the 2017-2018 season. In a similar vein, UN Women recently tweeted that Lionel Messi’s annual income was almost twice as much as those 1693 women. Such a disparity is beyond simple inequality; it is disrespectful and dismissive of the effort, talent, and skill of female footballers in the world today.

1693 female footballers across the top leagues of seven countries receive the same amount of pay as Neymar’s contract for Paris St-Germain for the 2017-2018 season.

Beyond prize money and pay gaps, FIFA has been accused a number of times of not investing nearly enough money into promoting football for women around the world, and of not advertising female football enough. So what can be done to rectify this situation? For one, at the behest of PFA and FifPro, both football associations, FIFA has agreed to negotiate to reduce the gender gap post the Women’s World Cup.

At the behest of PFA and FifPro, both football associations, FIFA has agreed to negotiate to reduce the gender gap post the Women’s World Cup.

In addition, national football associations should introduce equal pay for men and women. The United States Women’s Soccer team is fighting a legal battle to ensure equal pay, as they argue that their pay is a violation of the Equal Pay Act. In Norway, the Football Association earlier this year struck an agreement to introduce gender parity among the male and female internationals. National change can help generate the momentum needed to push FIFA towards modifying its own policies.

Sports is perhaps one of the most unequal arenas for women. Given that it can benefit the future of girls everywhere tremendously, it is time that we fought and pushed organizations to become accountable and initiate a positive change towards gender parity for girls.

It is time that we fought and pushed organizations to become accountable and initiate a positive change towards gender parity for girls.

ABORTION *T&C Applied


Anti-abortion laws in America recently, have taken the world by a storm. Abortion has been legal in America since the 1973. Roe v. Wade ruling provided access to safe and legal abortions as a constitutional right. Right from the beginning, anti-abortions groups have continuously attempted to undermine this ruling. In light of this, following Georgia, Ohio, Mississippi and Kentucky, the near total ban in Alabama has been the most extreme and sweeping law that has been passed in recent memory. Challenging the constitution, anti-abortion politicians have, once again, highlighted how women are undermined and not even included in the policy making decisions, especially when the law is about the bodies of the women.

Abortion has been legal in America since the 1973. Roe v. Wade ruling provided access to safe and legal abortions as a constitutional right … the near total ban in Alabama has been the most extreme and sweeping law that has been passed in recent memory.”

The law not only bans all abortion, at any stage of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape, incest or fetal viability, this would also see doctors who perform an abortion facing up to 99 years in prison.

Fact: THIS IS 89 MORE YEARS THAN SOMEONE CONVICTED OF RAPE.

After Alabama, Louisiana and Missouri soon followed with severe bans on abortion after six and eight weeks respectively. In contrast to this drive to ban or heavily limit options for abortion, the Democratic-led states have made a conscious decision to bring abortion to the forefront and make rights, safe abortion avenues and making it more accessible. This year Illinois became the third state, after New York and Vermont, to ensure that abortion remains legal even if the Supreme Court overturns the Roe v. Wade ruling.

The proposition of this bill had more than 500 #StopTheBans demonstrations spearheaded by several abortion rights groups and liberal organizations including American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Women’s March, Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL). Taking the streets with slogans screaming “Abortion is healthcare. Abortion is a right.” The fact that 25 men decided that they can make a law that directly questions not only the democratic rights of the women, but also questions their own understanding of their biology and strips them of planned parenthood entirely, is what the people have been protesting against.

Taking the streets with slogans screaming “Abortion is healthcare. Abortion is a right.” The fact that 25 men decided that they can make a law that directly questions their democratic rights and their own understanding of their biology is what people have been protesting against”

This wave of laws and amendments has forced women to come out and express why it has to be a decision that only they should make, and it has also intrinsically linked abortion to politics and what has become obvious is the lack of women policy makers and a lack of understanding of women’s issues.

Protestors participate in a rally on May 19, 2019 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo: Getty Images)

When you look at India, before 1971, abortion was a criminal offence under Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code, except in cases when it was necessary to save the woman’s live, labelling it as deliberately “causing miscarriage”. After the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill was passed in 1971, this allowed for stipulations such as health risk, possibility of substantial risk of serious physical handicap to the child, rape and risk for the mental health of the woman and made abortion available up to 20 weeks of gestation. Despite this, according to an article by The Lancet Global Health , it is estimated that 15.6 million abortions take place in India every year, and a majority of these are unsafe abortions. Unsafe abortion is the third largest cause of maternal morality leading to the death of 10 women each day. There’s also the fact that even though abortions are supposed to be legal, accessibility wise abortion clinics have been decreasing and in anti-choice states they are often not even covered by state or private health insurance. In India, we also have the stigma attached to abortion, especially when it comes to unmarried and underage women seeking access to safe abortions.

“It is estimated that 15.6 million abortions take place in India every year, and a majority of these are unsafe abortions. Unsafe abortion is the third largest cause of maternal morality leading to the death of 10 women each day.”

Seeing the rise of unsafe abortion seekers and the result, the Government took cognizance of the challenges faced by women and proposed four major amendments to the MTP law:

  • To increase the base of legal MTP providers and ensure better access to safe and legal abortions.
  • To increase the gestation period. This amendment was proposed on the basis that it takes more than the initial 20 weeks for medical practitioners to detect severe fetal abnormalities.
  • Increasing access to legal abortion services for women
  • Changing the indication to include unmarried women and to make more women aware of what MTP rights they have access to.
“Amend the Bill to include increase in abortion clinics, to amend the minimum time of 20 weeks, to make services safe and to provide legal abortions for unmarried women as well”

Despite the proposition of these amendments, the most important point raised was the gestation period. Appealed for by rape and sexual assault victims, this area specially needs amendment because the victims of any kind of sexual abuse might not discover the unwanted pregnancy till 24 weeks at least. Due to this negative aura that has been created around unwanted pregnancies and the idea of abortion as murder,what becomes apparent is the lack of female presence and female’s perspective when it comes to making laws about women’s bodies and their choices in our country. To challenge this notion, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, in his Women’s Sexual, Reproductive and Menstrual Rights Bill, 2018, proposed that instead of being called the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971, it should now be known as Legal Termination of Pregnancy Act so there is no mistake of understanding that the woman herself holds autonomy over her body and decisions related to her body. As a first step towards realizing women’s rights and respecting the their choice regarding sexual intercourse, menstrual health and unplanned or forced pregnancies, the Bill raises a strong voice in favor of women’s sexual autonomy, menstrual hygiene and abortion rights. There’s an apparent and glaring divide between men and women, and to have policy makers who will never actually experience the changes of pregnancy, what is needed the most is the inclusion for female policy makers, health care providers and even mobilization to educate as to how unsafe illegal abortions can be.

Due to this negative aura that has been created around unwanted pregnancies and the idea of abortion as murder,what becomes apparent is the lack of female presence and female’s perspective when it comes to making laws about women’s bodies and their choices in our country.

Photo: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/article/PIIS2214-109X(17)30453-9/fulltext

Dr. Shashi Tharoor’s proposed Women’s Rights Bill: What and How


In an unprecedented move, Dr. Shashi Tharoor recently tabled a private bill in Lok Sabha titled Women’s Sexual, Reproductive and Menstrual Rights Bill 2018 and recommended more freedom for women with respect to their “inherent right to their sexual and reproductive choices.”

Not only is this a bold move, but also of utmost importance because it creates space and possibility to finally come out and address issues like female sexuality and desire, reproduction by choice and menstrual issues. India has never really been so openly vocal about any of these, especially in terms of creating a discourse from the female perspective.

Dr. Tharoor explained the importance of the Bill while introducing it in the Lok Sabha stating, “the existing laws fail to recognise ‘woman’ as an individual capable of making her own choices, specifically her sexual choices as a wife and her reproductive choices when pregnant.” For the first time in the history of Indian politics, Dr. Shashi Tharoor visibilized the existence of rape within marriage.

Sexual Rights in the Bill:

  • The Bill proposes the deletion of Exception 2 to Section 375 of Indian Penal Code, which states that sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife is not rape. In the past few years, we have seen this law fail to protect victims of marital rape. Dr. Tharoor’s Bill highlights the importance of consent even if the relationship is legally binding and the woman is of age.
  • Additionally, it was specified that under Explanation 2 of Section 375 of Indian Penal Code such as “the women’s ethnicity, religion, caste, education, profession, clothing preference, entertainment preference, social circle, personal opinion, past sexual conduct or any other related grounds shall not be a reason to presume her consent to the sexual activity.”, propagating a shift from the masculine understanding of ‘no means yes’ and ‘yes means yes’ ideology.

Reproductive Rights in the Bill:

  • The Bill proposes that instead of being called the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971, it should now be known as Legal Termination of Pregnancy Act so there is no mistake of understanding that the woman herself holds autonomy over her body and decisions related to her body.
  • The Bill also advocates an intense study and removal of any ambiguities so that medical practitioners in rural areas especially do not feel unsafe and in fear of criminalization because of Section 312 of the Indian Penal Code that penalizes anyone, even the mother herself, for voluntarily terminating pregnancies.
  • After discussing several possible amendments about the right to abortion in the bill, what is highlighted is that until the 12th week a woman is to be given absolute right to terminate if they wish. Additionally, conditional termination of pregnancy should be avaible to women until he 20th week of their pregnancy.
  • Though the Bill still retains that if a Medical Practitioner recommends termination due to any risk for the mother, the Bill is a huge win for feminists in India because it doesn’t trivialize their choice of either not giving birth or planned parenthood.

Menstrual Rights in the Bill:

  • Statistics show that only 18% women in India have access to sanitary hygiene. An amendment to Right to Education Act was also proposed to make free distribution of sanitary napkins to girl students in schools and colleges and ensure that their health is not being compromised.
  • Further, the Bill also proposes that every public institutions should ensure adequate supply, storage and distribution of sanitary products to be given free of costs.

Dr. Tharoor’s Bill is laudable not just because it breaks the taboo that outnumbers health, choice and priorities and trivializes issues that women face when they are prematurely forced into pregnancy, when they do not have access to sanitary necessities and where their consent is always labeled dubious. It is necessary for the welfare state to provide not only basic resources but also to incorporate knowledge, agenda and concerns of the other sex.

As a first step towards realizing women’s rights and respecting the their choice regarding sexual intercourse, menstrual health and unplanned or forced pregnancies, the Bill raises a strong voice in favor of women’s sexual autonomy, menstrual hygiene and abortion rights.

The Disaster of Denmark


With the vision that the world has of Denmark, it comes as a surprise that only one is six Danes consider themselves to be ‘feminists’. This was announced as a result of a poll conducted by YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project of more than 25,000 people in 23 major countries, targeting Denmark as one of the candidates because of its narrow gender pay gap, equal employment rights, and universal nursery care.
In a global survey of attitudes of gender, equal rights for both men and women and the importance and wide-spread reach of the #MeToo movement to come out and encourage women to share their voice and stories of harassment, that Denmark is one of the least feminist countries in the world.

This project was conducted three years after the country’s equality minister and member of the party Venstre, Karen Ellemann, said she did not consider herself to be a feminist. The project also found that only two out of five Danes supported the #MeToo movement and only 4% of men and 8% of women questioned in the survey had a ‘favorable’ view of the #MeToo movement. Some even raised challenges like they believed #MeToo would make men feel constrained in their relationships with women. Sara Phil was noted saying “I think some men are afraid of talking to women at work, in case they get accused of something.”

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Breaking taboos, a film based on menstruation has just won an Oscar


Breaking taboos, a film based on menstruation has just won an Oscar. Period. End of Sentence, a documentary that tackles the stigma around menstruation in rural India, is available on Netflix.

The 26-minute film revolves around a group of women who use a new machine in order to create low-cost sanitary pads so that women in their village can be financial independent and at the same time improve their feminine hygiene.

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