WOMEN

On 12th July, I boarded the last train from Thane station to Koparkhairane, where I live. The train was scheduled to reach at about 12:30 am. I travel regularly by local train, but I still avoid catching the last train. However, the nature of my freelancing work makes it unavoidable sometimes. The train stopped between stations, just after Ghansoli station for almost 20 minutes. It was well past midnight. Only one more woman was travelling in the compartment along with her child.  We waited patiently for the first 10 minutes, but when we saw no signs of the train moving, the…

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He stays out till 11:00 pm working on his story. Once finished, he drives back home worrying only about the deadline. I, on the other hand, worry about getting home safe before worrying about that deadline. When I asked him if safety was not his prime concern, he shrugged nonchalantly. And it is not only about having to work late hours. Turns out he can visit any office, any official, any source, without much thought about safety, unless it is a crime story he’s reporting on. I wondered then, what extreme worlds he and I must be living in! As…

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"My mother was a freedom fighter and so were her mother and her mother's mother." I read this quote by Aja Monet one day, and it made me wonder, "Do women ever achieve full freedom”? I came to Mumbai from my home in Raipur, Chattisgarh, after COVID to do a course in Media at a women’s college. It was strange for me that not many people even knew about the existence of Raipur. During my early days in Mumbai I had to explain to people that Raipur is the capital of Chhattisgarh and it is not in Jharkhand. A shift…

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Amy*, a 31-year-old Chennai local, who has received three abortions in her life, remembers using a condom as protection each time she found out she was pregnant.  Now, her gynaecologist, scared that her body can not handle another termination, is requiring her to come in for shots every few months as an added form of birth control.  Amy recalls that she really had no formal education on other forms of birth control, and while she knew they existed, she just really wasn’t considering it.  Talking about sex is still considered taboo and many Chennai schools currently have no formalized sex…

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Aarti Krishnakumar, a Chennai local, entered the dating world after her mother’s efforts to arrange a marriage for her did not work out. Unsure of it all, Aarti went on a few dates and found herself in a panic after not getting her period.  When Aarti went looking for emergency contraceptive pills in Chennai, she took many avenues.  First, she visited three generic pharmacies, none of which carried the emergency contraceptive pill. At another pharmacy, Aarti recalls the pharmacist looking at her “as if I had just asked for an alien chip.” Feeling more desperate, Aarti then visited a reputed hospital…

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The allegations of multiple instances of sexual harassment and abuse in Chennai's famed Kalakshetra highlights the need to look into mechanisms in place at educational institutions in Chennai to aid survivors and prevent the recurrence of such incidents. At present, the University Grants Commission (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of sexual harassment of women employees and Students in higher educational institutions) Regulations, 2015. mandate every educational institution to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to deal with the cases of sexual harassment of all women inside the campus. Unfortunately, many colleges in Chennai do not have a functioning ICC or take…

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Pritika has to travel from Royapuram to different parts of the city every day for work. Being a daily user of the government buses in Chennai, she says that she feels unsafe taking buses. "When I enter a bus, my dignity and sense of space are immediately taken away. I have to give up on the assumption that I can regulate the space around me. Women's safety in Chennai buses depends on the actions of the men on the bus. All that we can do is learn how to respond to such instances of harassment in public places. More often…

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On November 8th, 28-year-old Aftab Ameen Poonawala was arrested for allegedly strangling his live-in partner Shraddha Walkar. They had had a violent argument. He cut her body into 35 pieces, kept them in a 300-litre fridge. Over the next few days Aftab disposed of the pieces at various places in Delhi’s Mehrauli forest area. While this incident — the Delhi Fridge case, as it is being referred to — has received relentless media focus, an increasing number of such gruesome crimes, often labelled crimes of passion, has been reported in the recent past. Family disputes and the breakdown of relationships…

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Mumbai’s biggest and oldest dry fish market at Marol, Andheri is struggling to maintain its distinct identity. Dry fish vendors at the market, where fisherwomen from across the state have been bringing dry fish to sell for almost 150 years, want authorities to retain the market exclusively for dry fish. Historically, the market plot of 2 acres and 24 guntas (113256 sq. ft) was officially categorised “weekly market for dry fish” in 1948 by Mumbai’s suburban district collector at the time.  Today, however, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) denies the market that identity, claiming that it cannot allocate a market…

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Rani has had debilitatingly painful periods ever since she started relying on injectable contraceptives. When she reached out to her doctor for help, she was told to be patient and that “this happens, it is quite normal.” But it does make it very difficult for her to manage her periods. Not only does she have to take care of household responsibilities, but she also has to go do her job as a door-to-door garbage collector in the hilly terrains of Shimla. But however painful or uncomfortable it gets, she knows she cannot afford to take menstrual leave. For door-to-door garbage collectors…

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