Archive for 'women'

Surrogacy Turned Nightmare in Mumbai

Posted on March 10, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under Health, India, International, women.

MUMBAI, India — “Chai Baby,” “Baby Masala” and “Made in India.” These are a few of the many blogs written by infertile Westerners trying to start a family through surrogacy in India. For the most part, the blogs tell tales of frustration, nervous anticipation and joy.

Commercial surrogacy has boomed in recent years as a result of India’s low cost of labor, lack of regulations and relatively inexpensive yet high quality medical care.

Surrogacy, which can cost upwards of $70,000 in the United States, is only a quarter of that in India. The Indian women who carry the babies earn about $5,000 to $7,000, upwards of 10 years’ salary for rural Indians.

“India is fast becoming a hub for surrogacy,” said Amit Karkhanis, a lawyer in Mumbai whose office, KayLegal, gets one new query a day from someone who wants to come to India to have a baby via surrogacy. “Five years ago, we were not even doing this.”

But not every surrogacy story has a happy ending, and given the fact that each country has its own laws on the matter, some Westerners who have engaged in the practice in India are finding themselves in legal limbo. As a result, the Indian government may soon regulate the surrogacy industry.

Consider the case of Kari Ann Volden, from Norway.

Continue reading from GlobalPost.

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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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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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India: ‘Wife-beating diplomat’ shames nation

Posted on January 26, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under Crime, India, International, Media, women.

MUMBAI, India — “Envoy shames India.” “India-UK diplomatic row.” “Diplomatic cover for domestic violence?” “Wife beating hardly diplomatic.” These are some recent headlines peppering Indian news outlets.

Put plainly, the case of a senior Indian diplomat allegedly beating up his wife at their London home has caused quite a stir. Indians are debating everything from the role of diplomatic immunity to what extent one allegedly violent husband can shame an entire nation.

But perhaps most strikingly, the case reflects India’s complicated relationship with and often tolerance for domestic violence. In India, many communities still condone marital abuse.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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Hetal Dave, India’s Only Female Sumo Wrestler, Is Lonely

Posted on December 26, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under India, International, women.

MUMBAI, India — At 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, Hetal Dave is strong and sturdy but far from obese. She is perhaps not what you first think of when you hear: India’s only female sumo wrestler.

But that she is.

It’s just one of the many things that distinguishes Hetal among the women in her family. Unlike her mother and her grandmother, both of whom were married before they were 20, 23-year-old Hetal is unmarried and attending college.

She comes from a conservative family of Brahmins, a Hindu caste associated with priests and scholars — not fighters. But when she was 6, Hetal’s father decided she should learn martial arts to gain physical and mental strength. He enrolled her in a judo class.

“I think the girls should be self-confident,” said her father Sudhir as he sat in the family’s modest apartment in South Mumbai. “If she walks on the road, she doesn’t have to bother. She is ready to face anything.”

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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India: Crackdown on Self-Selective Abortions

Posted on December 19, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under India, International, women.

MUMBAI, India — As India’s middle class grows, more families are using modern technology to ensure they have a boy, according to gender and population experts. Confronted with a decrease in the number of girls born, the state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, has decided to crack down on the illegal practice of so-called female feticide.

India outlawed the practice of doctors using technologies like ultrasounds to tell patients the sex of their unborn child in 1994. Abortion based on certain grounds is legal, but having one based on sex is not.

Despite the law as well as gains in girls’ education and employment opportunities across India, the practice has continued and even grown as more people have access to ultrasounds. The child sex ratio, the number of girls to every 1,000 boys in the 0 to 6 years age group, dropped from 945 girls in 1991 to 927 girls in 2001, according to data from the United Nations Population Fund based on the census. When just looking at the sex ratio at birth, for the period 2006-08, the ratio drops to 904 girls per 1,000 boys.

Sex determination leads to a missing 500,000 to 700,000 girls across India each year, according to the United Nations Population Fund.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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The Gender Factor: Is the Media Sensitive?

Posted on December 9, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under International, Media, women.

Kalpana, Hanna

Veteran journalist and former editor Kalpana Sharma, along with Hanna Ingber Win, who covers Mumbai for GlobalPost and blogs for the Huffington Post, conducted a two hour interaction with aspiring journalists  from three Mumbai colleges on the need for understanding media biases towards gender-related issues.

Continue reading at the US Consulate General, Mumbai, India, site.

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Bandra Diaries: What’s in a bikini wax for an Indian woman?

Posted on October 14, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under Culture, India, International, women.

MUMBAI, India — Swati Karan prefers to wear one of her many colorful salwar kameezes, the traditional Indian tunic and loose pants. She says they’re comfortable, and her mother tells her she looks best in them.

But six days a week Swati, 26, pulls on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt or button-down and begins the two-and-a-half-hour journey to work. Though born in a small village and now living on the outskirts of Mumbai, Swati has arguably one of the most modern jobs in all of India — though it may not be the most glamorous. Swati works at a beauty salon giving young women Brazilian bikini waxes.

Swati lives in a one-bedroom apartment with nine family members in Dombivli, a suburb northeast of Mumbai that is only slightly calmer than the city itself. Every morning, she walks 15 minutes to the train station, past women on mats selling fresh vegetables and busy stalls offering everything from fried samosas to plastic buckets.

Swati waits with the other women on the train platform to secure her space in the ladies’ compartment of the train, standing room only. She takes the train for an hour to Dadar, where she transfers to another train on to Bandra. There, she waits another 30 minutes for a bus to Pali Hill, a posh Bandra West suburb known for its tree-lined streets and Bollywood mansions.

And finally, Swati arrives at work: an upscale beauty salon where men in designer jeans get manicures and women in three-inch heels have their hair straightened. It’s a far cry from her home back in Dombivli, but in her black eyeliner and kitten-toe heels, Swati fits right in.

In a place as dynamic as Mumbai, sometimes old and new, Western and Indian, coexist in parallel universes. Other times they occur within the same person at the same time. On a daily basis, Swati lives amid these layers of modernity and tradition.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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Bandra Diaries: No Room for Single Women

Posted on August 9, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under India, International, women.

MUMBAI, India — Niharika Hanglem lists apartments like relationships.

They all had character, but none were the right fit. There was the Santa Cruz apartment in North Mumbai where the owner slept on the sofa. There was the Andheri one-bedroom she crammed herself into with three other women, the Kandivali flat where she turned the bedroom into a closet and another Andheri apartment where she crashed with her boyfriend whom she had to claim was her husband.

Niharika now lives in Bandra, another suburb in North Mumbai popular among young people, pretending to be her landlord’s relative in order to skirt the housing society that would otherwise kick her out.

In skinny jeans and a plaid blouse, with a gold pendant shaped like the Hindu god Ganesh hanging from her neck, Niharika looks like she’d make an innocuous tenant. But Niharika is single, and single women have a hard time making headway with India’s housing societies, which get to decide who can and cannot own and rent apartments.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

Follow Hanna on Twitter @Hanna_India.

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Maternal Mortality in India: Photo Montage

Posted on July 6, 2010, by Hanna Ingber, under Health, India, International, women.

Hanna Ingber Win explains her Pulitzer Center reporting project in this photo montage:

Learn more about this reporting project.

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