Society

The revelation of several old and recent cases of child sexual abuse in schools in Chennai and its suburbs has left the city in shock. Educational institutions no longer appear to be the safe spaces that they were meant to be. But can an institution be held responsible for crimes committed by individuals within their premises? What should they do to ensure justice for the survivors of such abuse. More importantly, how can they prevent the occurrence of such abhorrent crimes in the space?  The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 says that any school, institution or…

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The Sunday gone by, 13th June, was the last Sunday in Mumbai before the restrictions of the past couple of months were lifted. In residential townships, away from the bustling markets, people have been going about their essential purchases in a relatively controlled manner. As lockdown eases, people are moving around more freely. With the monsoon already in, roadside vendors and small businesses are bouncing back, eager to make a living on every sunny day. Children want to meet their friends. We want to go out to the parks, to the shops, back to the office. Standing on the balcony…

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“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”― George Orwell, 1984 How do we use language to shape and control thoughts? How do we use language for behaviour change? How do we use language for affirmative action? How do we use language to respect the person as a whole rather than as a trait,  a diagnosis or a condition?  In the early days, before the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a pandemic, one term that repeatedly made the rounds was 'social distancing'.  Benign as it sounds, to behave responsibly by maintaining a certain physical distance from the…

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The recent exposé in the social media on sexual harassment of students by some school teachers in Chennai has shocked the city. But while there is outrage across the city, and rightfully so, there is perhaps not enough awareness about how to prevent or even seek redress against crimes of child sexual abuse. In the backdrop of the incidents that have come to light recently, it becomes even more important for parents, teachers, caregivers and society as a whole to know more about the legislations, law & order framework as well as institutions that work for protection of children. Here…

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My name is Zarin Ansari. I have been living in Ambujwadi for the past 21 years. Ambujwadi is a basti (slum) in the western suburb of Malwani in Mumbai, inhabited since 1995. There are people from different regions, religious and caste backgrounds in our community. There are also those belonging to the tribal community. The land of Ambujwadi is distributed into two parts—one area has been declared a resettled and rehabilitated (R&R) portion by the government, and the other is collector land. Our community has been deprived of many basic services. People could access electricity supply only from 2016. We…

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At 9:00 in the morning, when commuters jostle to reach Borivali station in suburban north Mumbai and shops start lifting their shutters, it’s time for 24-year-old Lakshman Katappa to begin his work day too. Carrying a black cotton bag on his shoulder, walking barefoot along with his wife Rekha and his younger brother, 13-year-old Elappa, he stops in front of a closed shop. He opens the bag, and out comes a long green ghagra , a head band, a small box containing bandar (yellow oxide powder) and red kumkum , beaded neck ornaments, a small mirror, a chabuk (whip), and…

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While 2020 was decidedly not a great year for the entire world, we expected better times in 2021. So far, however, that has not been the case for India. We have seen alarming numbers of cases, including among children, high mortality rates and desperate scenes in hospitals and health facilities. Even as I write this, thousands of COVID patients in isolation and in hospitals are fighting a stiff physical and mental battle against the disease. Even so, I still hold out hope that we will emerge from these terrible times, stronger than ever before, with a sense of togetherness binding…

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Unlike Bengaluru, there are no housefull boards outside the crematoriums of Chennai. Neither has Chennai witnessed the traumatising scenes of unauthorised, open burning of bodies, as seen in New Delhi. Even before COVID cases spiked last year, the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) had directed Chennai crematorium workers and officials to use the space judiciously — a move that probably helped these facilities function efficiently when the second wave hit Chennai hard in 2021 and COVID fatalities rose sharply. The GCC has also vaccinated a majority of crematorium workers in its 41 crematoriums and 147+ burial grounds in the city, according to…

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Many employers have shifted to a 'work from home' model since last year's lockdown. This has affected the livelihoods of Mumbai's famous dabbawalas who deliver packed food to office-goers around town. But that has not stopped them from helping the needy. Some of the dabbawalas provide food to the relatives of hospitalized patients in various state-run and civic-run hospitals of Mumbai. Such generosity is exhibited despite many dabbawalas being unable to meet their monthly needs. They seek relief from various organisations to meet the basic needs of their families. “Since last year because of the lockdown, we have been struggling…

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As the second wave rages on across the country, the pandemic has forced most of us into another long lockdown, with restrictions on movement and strict curfews. The lockdown, a tool used to curb the spread of the coronavirus, has become a necessity to save lives. While there is no questioning the need for this measure, it comes with its downsides. The economic and social ramifications have already proven to be devastating for many, with no clear end in sight.  The isolation of the lockdown has been particularly harsh on children, who have been away from school for over a…

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