Archive for February, 2011

Dying for the Basics (Audio)

Posted on February 25, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under Health, India, International, women.

CBC Radio’s Dispatches is replaying my story on maternal mortality in Assam’s tea gardens as well as an interview with me.

“If Sulekha Lohar only had access to an ambulance instead of that handcart in rural India. If the local clinic just had a doctor instead of empty shelves. If the nearest hospital just had a blood bank, her children might still have their mother. Troubling public health issues facing women in the developing world have been the focue of Hanna Ingber Win’s work. ”

Listen to the story and interview with me.

Follow me on Twitter: Hanna_India

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Ross Dunkley, Former Head of The Myanmar Times, Arrested in Burma

Posted on February 17, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under Burma, International, Media.

MUMBAI, India — There was a time when Ross Dunkley, my former boss at the Myanmar Times, was a powerful man. Today, he sits in a prison cell.

I remember Ross storming into the newsroom in Rangoon after having stayed up all night drinking. Ross, a tall Australian with broad shoulders, wore a power suit. His head was bald and shiny.

“Come on, Hanna,” he commanded, waving his arm in the air. “We’re going to lunch.”

We arrived at Trader’s Hotel. “Sake, sake!” Ross shouted at a young Burmese woman standing near the entrance. She looked confused and walked off.

“Sake, sake!” Ross yelled. Another woman brought over a kettle, which Ross took out of her hands. He poured me a cup.

“No, thanks,” I said. “I have articles left to edit.”

Ross pushed the cup closer to my face. “When your boss tells you to drink, you drink!”

The Burmese junta detained Ross, the publisher and co-founder of the Myanmar Times, on Feb. 10, and today he is being held at the infamous Insein prison in Rangoon. Officially he’s been arrested for immigration violations, but there is speculation he will also be charged with possession of drugs and prostitution.

Ross, who founded the paper in 2000 with a once-powerful Burmese businessman, has a controversial reputation. But most Burma watchers assume his arrest has nothing to do with sudden allegations of age-old behavior.

Instead, it’s being seen as evidence of a government doing everything it can to cling to power. Ross’ arrest comes during a time of transition in Burma, and the government has responded to this period of possible instability by tightening control, said Toe Zaw Latt, the Thailand bureau chief of Democratic Voice of Burma, a leading news outlet on Burma run by exiles.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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A Remarkable Rape Case

Posted on February 8, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime, India, International, women.

MUMBAI, India — A poor girl in northern India is a member of the lowest caste. She winds up in jail after fleeing her alleged rapists. These alleged rapists are powerful men.

What are the odds the story gets better from here?

Slim, to say the least.

“Here child marriage is rampant, abuse of minor girls is rampant, abductions are very frequent,” said Tapas Kumar Chakraborty, a community volunteer and journalist in Uttar Pradesh, where the girl lives. “The powerful men and the gangsters get away with everything.”

And yet, the story of this girl appears to be an exception — at least so far.

Months after losing her mother, this teenage girl living in Banda, Uttar Pradesh, was abducted. The girl’s father, a farm laborer, pleaded with a state assemblyman to help him find his daughter. The legislator helped rescue the girl and then offered to let her live with him as his domestic help. The father agreed.

“He thought she would be safe there,” said Chakraborty. “But that didn’t happen unfortunately.”

The legislator, Purshottam Naresh Dwivedi, and three other men allegedly raped and beat the 17-year-old repeatedly. The girl tried to flee, but she was caught, beaten, accused of theft and handed over to the police, according to news reports. The girl, a minor, spent a month in jail.

It is not uncommon for powerful men who sexually assault or exploit women in India to use their money or political connections to shield themselves from legal consequences.

“This is one such reported case. There are many, many, many such unreported cases,” said Amitabh Kumbar of the Centre for Social Research. “Exploitation of poor women by politicians is a common trait not just in UP [Uttar Pradesh] but across the country.”

But thanks to a combination of factors connected to her own personality, an active civil society and political games in her state, the girl has not only been freed from jail, but the politician and other accused men have been arrested. Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Party’s general secretary and heir apparent as prime minister, traveled to Uttar Pradesh on Monday and met with the girl at her village.

In a place like Banda, there is usually little chance that a poor girl will manage to get out of jail or that authorities will arrest powerful men.

Why has this case turned out differently?

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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