Archive for April, 2011

How Bohra Muslims Set Themselves Apart

Posted on April 26, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under India, International, Religion.

MUMBAI, India — Covered from head to toe, the women stood separate from the men and in many ways acted out traditions common to all Muslims.

They prayed in Arabic and beat their chests. Thousands of Dawoodi Bohra Muslim women cried as their leader, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, spoke on the occasion of his 100th birthday at the Saifee Mosque in Mumbai’s Bhendi Bazaar.

But rather than wearing black burqas, like other religious Muslim women in India, these Bohra women wore hot pink.

They also wore deep reds, forest greens, bright blues. Every color imaginable, it seemed — except black.

Some say that’s no coincidence.

The traditional costume, called a rida, worn by Dawoodi Bohra women represents one of many ways this community of about 1.2 million people differentiates itself from other Muslims in India, say sociologists and historians.

India’s 161 million Muslims tend to be a marginalized minority with lower education and income levels than the country’s Hindus and Christians. There is also long-standing prejudice against Muslims by those who perceive the community as violent, poor, socially backward and sexist. This can cause discrimination against Muslims in everything from housing to jobs.

The Bohras want none of that.

Continue reading and see the slideshow at GlobalPost.

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India: Disabled More Vulnerable to AIDS

Posted on April 4, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under Health, India, International.

MUMBAI, India — Subash and Vimal Barve live in a 200-square-foot shack deep in the slums of Ghatkopar East, a suburb of Mumbai. Outside their home, rats run over broken cement slabs and children pick through a fly-infested dump that ends at the couple’s doorstep. Inside, Vimal prepares a pot of chai as Subash, blind and HIV positive, stares straight ahead.

Life wasn’t always this hard.

A decade ago, the couple lived a middle-class life. They owned an apartment in Goregaon, a northern suburb of Mumbai, and a shoe shop in nearby Andheri. At one point, Subash employed eight assistants and earned 50,000 to 100,000 rupees ($1,100 to $2,200) a month. They rode around town on a motorbike, and when they went to the market, they never questioned how much food they bought.

“We have gone from a time when we had a lot of money to nothing,” said Vimal, sitting on the floor of her home.

Subash is one of about 320,000 disabled people living with HIV in India, according to a 2007 report by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). There is a higher prevalence of disabled people living with HIV than in the general population because of factors related to poverty, it states. Poverty increases vulnerability to HIV, and people with disabilities are over-represented among the poorest of the poor.

However, despite this correlation, those with disabilities who are living with HIV have not been targeted by assistance programs in India, according to Heather Ferreira, a program officer for the HIV/AIDS program at World Vision India.

Less than 2 percent of those with disabilities living with HIV receive support from HIV programs, the DFID report states.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

Follow Hanna on Twitter: @Hanna_India

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