Toilet for Babli

Imagine this. Women and young girls, waking up before dawn, every day, leaving their homes while it is still dark and walking for a mile or so to find a remote or a secluded place. And all the while, hoping to stay away from any prying eyes as they finish their daily ablutions in the open.

With this act, they are not only adding to the estimated 100,000 tons of human excrement that Indians leave each day in farming fields, on river banks that are used for drinking and bathing and along roads jammed with scooters, trucks and pedestrians but also experience shame and embarrassment along with exposing themselves to a lot of diseases.

More than 200 million tons of human sewage goes uncollected and untreated, fouling the environment. Each gram of feces can contain 10 million virus particles, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs. The germs in the excreta contaminates the drinking water, food and soil and increases the number of flies and insects carrying excreta and spreading disease.

Open defecation and lack of sanitation are the leading causes for water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, intestinal worms, trachoma, hepatitis A and typhoid and stunted growth in children. While over 300,000 children aged below five years in India die each year due to diarrhoeal diseases, 44% of children younger than 5 are underweight! Malnourished children have poor immunity and are more susceptible to diarrheal disease, and with more diarrheal disease they become more malnourished!

20% of deaths among children under-14 are due to diseases caused by poor sanitation and hygiene. In young girls, open defecation during menstruation causes a lot of health and hygiene issues viz reproductive tract infections and sexually transmitted infections. Almost 28 million school children across India do not have access to school toilet facilities. And this results in dropping out from schools by girls on reaching puberty, depriving them of opportunity to learn and grow in life and a hope for a bright future.

By stopping open defecation and improving sanitation, there will be lower mortality among children, better nutrition, reduced stunting and increased height among children, due to the reduction in diarrhoea and other life-threatening diseases. There will also be better learning and retention among school children due to reduction in worms and other sanitation related diseases.

By building toilets and ending open defecation, it can have a  BIG effect on the health, safety, education, prosperity and dignity of a lot of children and women in India.

Domex has taken an initiative, which is called #ToiletForBabli to make villages in Maharashtra and Orissa open defecation free zones.

You can be a part of this noble initiative too!

Just visit http://www.domex.in/ and click on Contribute Now. For every Click- contribution received on this website, Domex will contribute Rs.5 for making villages open defecation free.

Domex cover

This post is written for Indiblogger.in and Domex #ToiletForBabli Initiative

Women’s Clothing and Gender Inequality

BAD'14I am participating in Blog Action Day. Blog Action Day is a free annual event, that is organised since 2007. Its aim is to unite the bloggers from all over the world, by posting about the same issue, on the same day, in order to raise awareness and trigger a positive global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all.  Past topics have included Water, Climate Change, Poverty, Food, Power of We and Human Rights, with over 25,000 blogs taking part since 2007. Blogs from 111 countries are taking part in Blog Action Day 2014 over the next few days. This year, the focus is on Inequality.

Gender equality is, first and foremost, a human right. Measures of gender equality include access to basic education, health and life expectancy, equality of economic opportunity, social and political empowerment. But this very basic human right is denied to most women.

Although there has been evident progress, many alarming issues regarding gender discrimination still prevail today.

In 2001 a militant group demanded that Muslim women in Kashmir wear burqas, head to toe garments that cover their clothes, or risk being attacked. Men threw acid in the faces of two women for not covering up in public. The group also demanded that Hindu and Sikh women dress so as to identify themselves: they said that Hindu women should wear a bindi (the traditional colored dot) on their foreheads, and Sikh women should cover their heads with saffron-colored cloth.

Cut to October 2014, veteran singer K J Yesudas suggested that women ‘should not trouble others by wearing jeans.’ Imagine, a public figure like him blames women’s clothes for sexual crimes! Statistics reveal that majority of the sexual crimes are committed by men. However, our society believes that it is women and their clothing that is responsible for this and it is up to the women to stop these sexual assaults.

So right from childhood, we have been taught that wearing short clothes, going alone at night, talking to strangers lead to sexual assault. It is implied that if a woman drinks or flirts or is sexually active, she is available and/or asking for it.

Is it that only skimpily clad women are assaulted? No, women have been assaulted even if they are covered from head to toe whether in a burqua, sari, salwar-suit and/or jeans. Women are raped not only in a deserted by-lane but even at homes or a place swarming with people. So, it is not a woman’s clothing that leads to her rape. By using the woman’s clothing as an excuse for a sexual assault, we are overtly stating that the man was a victim and he is not responsible for his actions.

It is a woman’s fundamental right to choose what she wants to wears and that should not be dictated by the rules preached by some men of the society.

So, my question to you today is “What will help reduce this gender inequality which violates a woman’s freedom to dress the way she wants ?”

Also linking this to 7 Days of Rediscovering Your Blogging GrooveDay 6 : Ask a Question

Connect for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention
It was just another Sunday. The two children were watching television. Their mother was busy cooking brunch for the family in the kitchen. And their grandfather had just returned back from the visit to the local market after buying the weekly vegetables and fruits. After settling with the newspaper and a cup of tea, the grandfather asked the eldest child to call her dad from his room on the first floor. The lil girl obediently rushed upstairs only to return back soon to inform with an innocence that only a 6 year old is capable of, that “Papa, fan se latak kar so rahein hain’’ (Papa is sleeping while hanging from the fan!)

Papa here was a friend’s brother who couldn’t manage the business losses and believed that killing himself would be the best solution for his problems.

Needless to say that his suicide didn’t help anybody. It only compounded the problems. His wife and father were clueless about his business operations, his debts and losses and are struggling at this crossroad of life. This cruel and harsh reality has scarred the children, mentally.

The only thing that could have helped would had been Connectedness! By being communicative with family and friends can help on many levels.

Connectedness is crucial to individuals who may be vulnerable to suicide. Being connected to your loved ones, your community, and the world around you, is key to suicide prevention.

    • Connectedness leads to stronger social ties, lower levels of isolation or loneliness, and more positive relationships. stayconnected
    • These strong, positive relationships can be protective and prevent against suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
    • For youth, attachment to family and organizations in the community increases feelings of belonging, strengthens a sense of identity and personal worth, and expands available supports.
    • Reaching out to those who have become disconnected from others and offering them support and friendship may be a life-saving act.
    • Connectedness can also be understood in terms of clinical care. Mental illness, particularly depression, is an important risk factor for suicide. Seek/provide help from mental heath professionals.

So, please speak up! Talk your heart out. Stay connected and stay positive.

And above all, NEVER GIVE UP… there is always a way out!

Never Lose Hope

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We are blogging for this cause at Write Tribe. Do read and spread the awareness about this initiative. Thank you!

Gift a Life

It is called the gift of life. No words can ever express gratitude for this selfless act of passing on the gift of life. It is the legacy that we can leave behind… a priceless treasure that would be cherished by receiver and his family and our loved ones too.

Yes, I am talking about Organ Donation.

Organ Donation is the process of giving an organ or a part of an organ for the purpose of transplantation into another person.

Becoming an Organ Donor is a win-win situation for all. Here are some reasons why, we must opt for organ donation:

  • This one act of ours can help save lives and make a difference. Make a DifferenceExperts say that the organs from one donor can save or help as many as 50 people!! Organs and tissues that we can can donate include kidneys, heart, liver, pancreas, intestines, lungs, skin, bone and bone marrow, cornea, heart valves and veins. Organs are used to save lives by replacing diseased organs with healthy ones. Corneas are transplanted to give sight and heart valves are used in valve replacement surgery. Skin grafts are used for burn victims. Bone, tendons and ligaments, veins can be used in reconstructive surgeries.

 

  • It can give a second chance at life to the organ recipients. For some, an organ transplant means no longer having to be dependent on costly routine treatments to survive.  It allows many recipients to return to a normal lifestyle and/or have a better quality of life.

 

  • Our own families may take comfort in the fact that their loss may help to save or improve the lives of others.

Organ Donation

Around this time, last year, I pledged to donate my organs. I have requested that after my death any part of my body be used for transplantation. I carry this card in my purse always. And my family knows about this wish of mine. I just hope that they do remember to carry out this wish at the right time.

My Organ Donor Card

They say in the midst of darkness, an enduring light shines strong and bright. It is the light of hope. So, give the gift of hope to someone. Gift a life to somebody. Be an Organ Donor.

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Organ Donation… What do you think about it?

Linking this to #WorldOrganDonationDay Blog Carnival. Join us and read some more posts for this carnival at Vidya’s Blog.

Inspiring Change This IWD 2014

Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day.

Inspiring Change is the 2014 theme for IWD which encourages advocacy for women’s advancement everywhere, in every way. It calls for challenging the status quo for women’s equality and vigilance inspiring positive change.

It advocates Inspiring Change for…International Women's Day 2014

  • greater awareness of women’s equality
  • for more women in senior leadership roles
  • for equal recognition of women in the arts
  • for growth of women-owned businesses
  • for increased financial independence of women
  • for more women in science, engineering and technology
  • and for fairer recognition of women in sport

Women writers and writers of color are under-served and under-valued by the contemporary literary community. I looked at the statistics at Vidaweb and it was pretty disturbing. This disparity deserves greater attention. As the adage goes, you can’t fight what you cannot see.

Inspired by 2014 being celebrated as the Year of Reading Women Writers, SheReadsSouthAsia is an initiative to discover, celebrate and discuss works by South Asian women writers. By involving both writers and readers, SheReadsSouthAsia – supported and conceived by Indireads aims to facilitate discussion, interaction and dialogue among the women writers from the region and their global readers.

There are many ways in which we can get involved:

As a Reader : Encouraging reading for pleasure could be one of the most effective ways of bringing about social change.

  • Follow @SheReadsSA on twitter, and on FB.
  • Check the #SheReadsSouthAsia and #SheReadsSA hashtags frequently to discover more amazing writers from South Asia. Read their works, and tweet what you thought of their work – a micro-review – using #SheReadsSouthAsia or #SheReadsSA
  • Authors thrive on feedback about their work. Remember to rate and review (on Amazon, Goodreads and your favorite online bookstore) the books that you’ve read. The authors will be thankful for your feedback, and you will be helping other readers discover great books they might like.
  • Send the SheReadsSouthAsia bookmarks to five friends on twitter (using their handles) copying @SheReadsSA and including #SheReadsSouthAsia / #SheReadsSA to receive a free gift from Indireads.
  • Whenever you find a quote – or an amazing sentence – in a book, tweet it and put it on Facebook/Goodreads.  Quotes have a much bigger impact and pull than book titles.

As an Author :

  • Follow @SheReadsSA on twitter, and on FB.
  • Tweet out using the #SheReadsSouthAsia / #SheReadsSA hashtags to let more and more readers discover your works.
  • If you would like your name to appear on the bookmarks, please tweet to us at @SheReadsSA, including the hashtag, and let us know about your work.
  • Follow the  #SheReadsSouthAsia / #SheReadsSA hashtags to discover more fellow female writers from South Asia.
  • Encourage your readers to review your books and send out using #SheReadsSouthAsia / #SheReadsSA hashtags.
As a Blogger :
  • Follow @SheReadsSA on twitter, and on FB.
  • Show your support by encouraging your twitter followers to follow @SheReadsSA on twitter, and on FB.
  • Tweet out using the #SheReadsSouthAsia / #SheReadsSA hashtags to let more and more readers discover great authors.
  • Write about this initiative. You can link back to this page or copy and share the bookmarks on your blog. Mention your favorite South Asian women writers. Start a challenge on your blog.

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Let’s do our bit to bring about the change. Here’s to more power to women writers and more power to women readers!

Happy Women’s Day!

Linking it to Write Tribe Festival of Words – 3 : Day 7 : International Women’s Day 2014

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Sponsored Video: Domestos-UNICEF Partnership for Improved Sanitation

Last week, I had an opportunity to visit a village near Dudu, Rajasthan. I spent nearly 4 hours with the villagers, gathering information for a project and generally chit chatting too. Once the work was done, the women folk with whom I was interacting, invited me to their homes. They had nice and and neatly kept mud houses. We had lunch together and then one women asked me, if I wanted to visit the loo. Very thoughtful of her! Though I replied in a negative, she informed me that we would have to go in the open fields for that!

I was surprised. Here is a village, where almost all households have television, motorbikes and mobiles, their houses are spic and span and they don’t have toilets in their homes!

The situation of the people in this village is no different from billions of people worldwide.

About 2.5 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation. Of these, almost half have no sanitation facilities at all and practice open defecation. Access to improved sanitation has been deemed a basic human right by the United Nations. Without it, people are at risk of sanitation borne diseases, like diarrhoea, which kills around 2,000 children under five every day.

Please take a moment to watch this video. Thank you.

Domestos and the Unilever Foundation joined forces with UNICEF to help improve access to basic sanitation for hundreds of thousands of people by supporting UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) program.domestos_unicef

CATS is a behavior change program which promotes good hygiene practices, helps create demand for access to toilets and raises awareness of the sanitation crisis. Through the use of simple and effective demonstrations which explain the link between open defecation and disease, families make the decision to change their sanitation practices.

As part of this partnership, Domestos is contributing 5% of its average proceeds received from the sale of specially marked bottles of Domestos in select countries to support UNICEF’s CATS programmes in the Philippines, South Sudan, and Vietnam and will also go towards providing resources to advance efforts to improve sanitation in India, Indonesia and Brazil.

Your can be a part of this initiative too. You can help by:

  • Buying specially marked bottles of Domestos (Domex)
  • Sharing the partnership “Tell a friend” video
  • Using the campaign hashtag (#mumsfortoilets) when you tweet about the campaign
  • Show your support by adding a Twibbon to your Facebook profile picture
  • Visit Domestos for UNICEF to learn more about their partnership and know about the benefits it can bring to families around the world
  • Donate to UNICEF’s world sanitation programme.

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This post has been sponsored by Domestos, but all thoughts are my own.

ABC of Staying Safe

Given the times we live in, the crimes against women are on the rise. No woman feels safe and this is because the crimes against women cut across the boundaries of culture, education, age, religion,  socio-economic status… Though Jaipur is a fairly safe city, still crimes against women do occur here.

How can women feel safe? How can the crimes against women be stopped? I don’t know, if we have answers to the above questions. But we can certainly take responsibility of our safety. Here are the tips to stay alert and safe… the ABC of staying safe…

Awareness is half the Battle Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t let your guard down at any point of time, when alone. You must know where you are and what’s going on around you.
If things seem even a slight unsafe, get out of that place immediately.
Be Bold Look and act confident. Be alert. Use common sense. Always stride along like you know where you’re going.
Respond with a stern voice. Threaten and/or raise your voice to gather a crowd.
Carry Sharp Objects Your safety comes first and it is in your own hands.
Apart from pepper spray, you can also carry a sharp object in your bag at all times.
A pocket knife is handy, and helps you to injure and distract the culprit.
A safety pin in a crowded place is very useful too
Defend Yourself
In a fight for life and death- nothing- is off limits. You must completely overwhelm your attacker both physically and mentally to be successful in surviving.
Break fingers, scratch eyes, slap ears, cut throats, kick groins and knees, stamp the tops of his feet, scratch, bite, spit and scream.
Do not give up or give in to fear…turn your body’s fear into rage and use it against the attacker.
Escape This is always your best option. Run away, yell for help, throw a stone on a car window – do whatever you can to attract attention. And if the attacker is after your purse or laptop bag etc, throw them one way while you run in the other direction.
Family and Friends, First Let your family and friends know about your whereabouts, in case you are late or going to an unknown place and/or with unknown person. Even if there is any change of plan, call home immediately and let someone know where you are.
GPS Based Safety Apps
Download the new GPS based safety apps on your smartphone. The apps like Smart Suraksha helps you to establish contact to get immediate help.
Have a Plan Every attacker has two fears: getting caught or getting hurt. You must have a plan to ruin his plan. Fight verbally, yell or scream – do whatever you can to save your life. Every circumstance is different. Think on your feet and plan for a way out.

Instincts, Trust Them 

Trust and make good use of your ‘gut feel’ or ‘intuition’ or ‘sixth sense’ in each & every place and situation.
If you feel something weird about a situation, get out of it. If you have a sense of dread about walking into a dark area, avoid it.
Don’t ignore or brush aside these instincts which are all telling you to act and flee.
Just Stay Safe PLEASE!!!!!

I am sharing my Smart Suraksha Tips at BlogAdda.com in association with Smart Suraksha App.

Linking this post to the Ultimate Blog Challenge and October’s NaBloPoMo.

Images Courtesy : Google Images

Human Rights

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I am participating in Blog Action Day. Blog Action Day is a free annual event, that is organised since 2007. Its aim is to unite the bloggers from all over the world, by posting about the same issue, on the same day, in order to raise awareness and trigger a positive global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all.  Around 1, 717  blogs from 124 countries, across 26 languages have registered to take part in Blog Action Day 2013.  This year, the focus is on Human Rights.

Human Rights are the rights that all people have by virtue of being human beings. Human Rights are derived from the inherent dignity of the human person and are defined internationally, nationally and locally by various law making bodies.

Every person is entitled to certain fundamental rights, simply by the fact of being human. These are called ‘human rights’ rather than a privilege which can be taken away at someone’s whim.

They are ‘rights’ because they are things you are allowed to be, to do or to have. These rights are there for your protection against people who might want to harm or hurt you. They are also there to help us get along with each other and live in peace.

Characteristics of Human Rights

  • Universal Human Rights
  • Internationally guaranteed
  • Legally protected
  • Protects individuals and groups
  • Cannot be taken away
  • Equal and indivisible
  • Obliges States and State actors

While most of us know something about our rights. But are we aware of all our human rights. There are some 30 Human Rights recognised by United Nations.

When we are not aware of our human rights, abuse such as discrimination, intolerance, injustice, oppression and slavery can happen.

30 HUMAN RIGHTS That We ALL Have Are…

1. We Are All Born Free and Equal : All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

2. Don’t Discriminate : Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

3. The Right to Life : Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

4. No Slavery : No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

5. No Torture : No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

6. You Have Rights No Matter Where You Go : Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

7. We’re All Equal Before the Law : All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

8. Your Human Rights Are Protected by Law : Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.human-rights-19936965

9. No Unfair Detainment : No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

10. The Right to Trial : Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

11. We’re Always Innocent Till Proven Guilty : Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.

12. The Right to Privacy : No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation.

13. Freedom to Move : Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

14. The Right to Seek a Safe Place to Live : Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations

15. Right to a Nationality : Everyone has the right to a nationality. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

To read about the remainder 15 Human Rights, please visit Kajal’s Blog, Rainbow Hues 

This post is done in collaboration with Kajal Kapur from Rainbow Hues

List provided by Youth For Human Rights International, adapted and simplified from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Here is a link to the original:  http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

Linking this post to the Ultimate Blog Challenge and October’s NaBloPoMo.

Also linking this post to Write Tribe’s Blog Action Day link up. Together we can!

Images Courtesy : Google Images

Stay Safe, Please

  • When a third year law student was raped, struck 14 times with a motorcycle helmet, and finally strangled with a wire, at her residence, I wish she had a Smart Suraksha with her.
  • When a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was savagely beaten and gang-raped in a moving bus last year, I wish she had a Smart Suraksha with her.
  • When a 25-year old woman TV journalist was found shot dead in her car while returning home after work, I wish she had a Smart Suraksha with her.
  • When a foreign national was found murdered in mysterious circumstances in a guesthouse,  I wish she had a Smart Suraksha with her.
  • When a 35-year old woman is beaten up daily by her husband and harassed by her in-laws over dowry, I wish she had a Smart Suraksha with her.
  • When a 16-year old is pushed into the flesh trade against her wishes and is beaten up, is ill-treated and kept in captivity, I wish she had a Smart Suraksha with her.
  • When a girl is harassed, lynched and exiled  and later killed by her family because she brought ‘dishonor’ to their family, I wish she had a Smart Suraksha with her.
  • When a old woman is tied up with metal padlocks and chains for around 10 years in the basement of her home by her son, I wish she had a Smart Suraksha with her.
  • When a 20 year old is scared to go out for a stroll in the park adjacent to her home, after dinner, I wish she had a Smart Suraksha with her.
  • When a woman is nervous about traveling alone in a public transport, I wish she had a Smart Suraksha with her.
  • When a woman is jogging on a lonely track, I wish she had a Smart Suraksha with her.

Given the times we live in, the crimes against women are on the rise. No woman feels safe and this is because the crimes against women cut across the boundaries of culture, education, age, religion,  socio-economic status…

As they say, safety is in your own hands. So apart from carrying pepper sprays or being proficient in self defense, women should have another savior in the form of Smart Suraksha.

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Smart Suraksha, a mobile application, that can track your whereabouts and at a single touch will send an SMS to the pre-listed 5 contacts simultaneously and also the police.

You can download Smart Suraksha App on your phone from Google Play Store here.

Yes, use this app as a weapon that can prevent you from becoming an unfortunate victim.

Stay safe with Smart Suraksha.

I am participating in the Seeking Smart Suraksha contest at BlogAdda.com in association with Smart Suraksha App.

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Linking this post to the Ultimate Blog Challenge and October’s NaBloPoMo.

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