Connect with us

New Social Compact

COVID-19, Period Taboo, GBV and its Consequences

Published

on

The women get their period (menstruation) once in a month. It is a biological process that every women have to face in their life time. In average, women/girls menstruate equivalent to 10 years of her life.  Period taboo is around the globe. Guardian reports; In China only 2% of people who menstruate use tampons. This is due to the belief that; one who uses tampon could mean is no longer a virgin and it tears up the hymen. Due to the fact that, menstrual products are not affordable including shame and stigma—In UK, 137,700 of girls in had missed School in 2017.  In India; women are not allowed to be in the Kitchen or attend ritual practices during period . 28% of girls in rural India said that they do not go to school during their period because they don’t have sanitary or affordable menstrual products. In Nepal, isolation from  the family known as Chaupadi, no religious rituals celebrations or participation, no entry into Kitchen or allowing to sleep together with husband period are some taboos related to period. More than, 1 million girls miss up to six weeks of school each year in Kenya because of lack access to reliable menstrual products including shame and stigma related to it. Even in the US; the president Trump had said about Megyn Kelly that “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.” This resembles the mindset exist related to period even in the US. Addition this, 45 states impose sales tax on tampon in the US and no Safety Net Program for women who cannot afford tampons and pads. These are some of the examples of period taboo exist in the US. Menstrual taboo is align with culture and has been practiced since long time. In many cultures, Menstruation is considered as ‘unclean’ or ‘unsacred’—forcing women to boycott some daily activities during these time. Even in Victorian England; Dr. Charles Manifield Clarke had believed that “peculiar states of the uterus have frequently a share in producing madness, appears from the fact that between the years 1784 and 1794 eighty patients were admitted to Bethlam hospital, whose disorders followed shortly after the menstrual state”.

In broader sense, these taboo and  period have significantly affected women’s productivity. According to the cross-sectional survey conducted among 32,748 Dutch women between the ages of 15 and 45, researcher theorizes the women’s average productivity loss is 9 days of total productivity loss per year.

Period, GBV & COVID-19

The world is witnessing the impact of COVID-19 and Nepal is no exception. Nepal has entered in the second stage of COVID-19 transmission as identified of local transmission in the Far Western Region of Nepal(As of April 4th, 2020). In Nepal(as of April 7th, 2020),  2122 people were tested. Among them, 2113 test results were found to be negative whereas 9 has been infected. In these test, 100 people are living in isolation and 1 is already recovered. According to Ministry of Health & Population, there are total 1029 ICU beds and 552 ventilators. Out of this, 278 ICU beds and 250 ventilators are in Kathmandu and 751 ICU beds and 302 ventilators are outside Kathmandu valley.  Based on the situation analysis done by INSEC; Quarantine Centers in Nepal has lack of basic facilities such as toilets, bedding and drinking waters. Addition to this, there is insufficient medical gears—PPE(Personal Protective Equipment), digital thermometers, N95 Masks. Even Municipal authorities are asking for these medical gears. 

So, underlining above severe conditions, such public quarantine centers, hospitals including home quarantine centers need to have special consideration in these days—How menstruating women are accessing those toilets and getting sanitary pads? Nepal’s supply chain has been semi halted and Nepal Government economic relief package for wage labour is only focused on food supplies (this includes 30 Kgs rice, 3 Kgs pulse, 2 Kgs salt, 2 Liters cooking oil, 4 packed soap and 2 Kgs sugar). But, is there any reflection by stakeholders to provide sanitary pads for women during this crisis days. Secondly, there are global reports of increasing domestic violence especially in Italy due lock down as women are forced to live with family members including perpetrators. Their work load i.e. Cook, Care and Listening family members has increased dramatically. Although, Nepali CSOs and Women Ministry in Nepal has shown some initiatives in addressing Gender Based Violence(GBV) in this days but their work plan seems limited. How they are going to reach the corners of the country despite the transportation and overall movement is blocked? How many women have access to the telephone services to report the violence. These are some of the questions which need to have special contemplation. So, observing on period, its taboo and as well its inter-linkage with GBV in this crisis time is critical.

Way forward

These above global trends, history and cultures had showed the deep penetration of period taboo. Whether it is the period taboo in the US, Kenya or Nepal; all of them are restricting women’s choices in the form of religion, culture, politics and society. So, eradicating period taboo can’t be done overnight. In the case of Nepal, one of the major things that it can do to eradicate period taboo( in larger sphere it is called period poverty) can be economic empowerment. Women’s involvement in economic activities provides them the ‘choice’ to live their life on their ‘terms’ despite social taboo that halts their overall empowerment process. Secondly, it is access to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities(WASH) during period, menstrual products which puts the women/girls in hygienic conditions at the time of period, availability of toilets and bathrooms to prevent women from eating, drinking and changing pad less frequently and attending regular classes for whole month to reduce their dropout rate. Other notable ways to eliminate period taboo can be serious media reporting on the conducted period taboo in society, discussion in academia, politics and media. BBC had reported about #FreePeriodStories in which campaigners hope to eliminate taboo by allowing women to share their period stories.

And, COVID-19 outbreak globally has put women on a situation where possibilities to negotiate for period taboo, sanitation and its inter-linkage with domestic violence. It is obvious, menstruation is a natural cycle and women have to naturally accept it. There should be a degree of acceptance by women regarding this. But, also elimination of societal taboo related to period, availability of pads and access to toilets and bathrooms should also come under the radar of the government in every crisis situation like this. There is also the significant role of the intimate partners to know about the issue and create favorable environment for their women in those days and also at this critical time after WWII. Above all, eradicating period taboo doesn’t have one line solution and not even easy in this lock down days of COVID-19. It is a process of continuous struggle.

Continue Reading
Comments

New Social Compact

Prevent gender-based violence in humanitarian emergencies

Published

on

Top UN officials met in the margins of the 76th General Assembly on Thursday,  with a strong call to action to stamp out gender-based violence (GBV), amid a rise in forced displacement and other humanitarian emergencies around the globe.

GBV includes acts that inflict physical, sexual or mental harm – or other forms of suffering, coercion and limits on personal freedoms – and has “long-term consequences on the sexual, physical and psychological health of survivors”, according to the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA).

These are being driven increasingly by conflict, climate change, famine and insecurity, heightening vulnerabilities for girls and women.

‘Willingness to act’

UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem told the meeting on Localizing GBV in humanitarian crises, that peace, justice and dignity are the “birthright of every woman and girl”.

She spoke of the agency’s “clear and ambitious” 2021-2025 Roadmap, which reflects a shared vision and underscored the need to create new pathways to ensure those rights.

Emphasizing the need for accountability “to ourselves and each other”, Ms. Kanem said that as the lead UN agency on the issue, “UNFPA is committed to standing strong”.

She said there was a strong will to act, “to do something about gender-based violence”, she added, stressing the importance of putting the voices of women “at the heart of what we do”

Ms. Kanem pledged to funnel 43 per cent of UNFPA’s humanitarian funding to national and local women’s organizations, saying “now more than ever, they need us”.

Afghanistan: ‘Important reminder’

Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths called the situation in Afghanistan “an important reminder of the primary vulnerability of women and girls in crises”.

He highlighted the vital role of women-led local communities, pointing out that they act as first responders to crisis.

Recalling a recent trip to Ethiopia, where he heard first-hand accounts of the traumas suffered by women in Tigray, he said that it was the local communities who first responded to the atrocities, which underscores the “absolute importance” of listening to women, protecting women and girls, and “protecting local communities to do what they naturally want to do”.

The protection of women is one of the least-funded parts of the humanitarian programme, Mr. Griffiths said.

Getting the word out

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said to deliver on “the ambitious call to action”, it is important to “get the word out” to the girls and women on the ground about the services available.

“This has not been clear at all”, Ms. Fore stated.

She spoke of the UNICEF report We Must Do Better, which provides a global feminist assessment of the experiences of women and girls, and the organizations they lead, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report highlighted that the needs of women and girls are either ignored or treated as an afterthought; and that despite being on the front lines of humanitarian crises, women are not taken seriously enough.

And although the demand for GBV services has increased during COVID, the resources have not, said Ms. Fore, calling for greater support for local women’s groups, including financially.

Bureaucratizing assistance

Fighting GBV is an important priority for the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), High Commissioner Filippo Grandi assured participants, especially in situations of forced displacements, which are “rife” with opportunities.

He acknowledged that during humanitarian crises as everyone is moving quickly, too often the critical role of local women’s organizations are overlooked.

The top UNHCR official said that providing “substantive, flexible, direct and rapid” resources to women-led, community-based organizations without undue red tape is “one of the most important” ways to empower them.

He conceded however, “this is a difficult call” as humanitarian funding is follow the trend of being “bureaucratized”.

Continue Reading

New Social Compact

The Death News of Sidharth Shukla: In the remembrance of Sidnaaz

Published

on

For most individuals, the death news of Sidharth Shukla seems implausible. Sidharth Shukla, popular actor, and 13 winner Bigg Boss died on Thursday 2 September suffering a severe cardiac arrest at Cooper Hospital in Mumbai.  Actor Sidharth constantly challenged the odds in his profession. For many in the TV and movie sector, it is a last-ditch and sometimes fruitless effort to stop a slide into irrelevance in the popular reality program Bigg Boss. But Shukla was the household name that became a feather reality TV sensation for himself who won the 13th show edition in 2019. For the first time, Shukla entered the television limelight, working on BalikaVadhu (2012), in which he tried the part of District Collector Shivraj Shekhar. Shukla portrayed the character throughout the space of three years and won several accolades. A few whiles later, in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2014), he was reputed to a costar, once again receiving acclaim. Born and reared up in Mumbai, Shukla began as a model by taking a position as a leader in the Manhunt and Mega model Gladrags contests and then starred in Bajaj and ICICI Banking television commercial campaigns. Shortly thereafter, he premiered on Babul Ka Aangann Chootey Na, followed by a range of dramatic TV shows such as CID and Aahat, which include criminal dramas. In 2016 Khatron Ke Khiladi won Fear Factor as well. Shukla has also been a popular television host with such series as Savdhaan India and the Got Talent 6 of India. His death caused a shock to the television and film industries.

Police authorities in Mumbai claimed that at around 9 a.m. before death, Shukla complained about cardiac pressure in his home in Oshivara, Mumbai.  At that time, his sister, his mother, and brother-in-law were in the house. A physician who came to the house found that he was pulseless. “The family went to Dr. RN Cooper hospital and requested an ambulance. They reached about 9.45 am and before admission he had been proclaimed dead.” The Forensic department leader, Dr. R Sukhdev, verified that on Thursday morning, Shukla was brought dead. The afternoon postmortem exam was performed. No external damage on his body was detected before the autopsy by physicians and police. The Dean of Dr. RN Cooper Hospital, Dr. Sailesh Mohite, refused to comment on the autopsy findings.

Many Celebertities Condolences

“Siddharth, gone too soon. You’ll be missed…” said Actor Salman Khan, who gave him the trophy of Bigg Boss. Kapil Sharma TV comedy host tweeted, “Oh god, it is truly shocking, my condolences to the family, and prayers for the the departed soul” Several TV and film fraternity members, like Rajkummar Rao, came to Mumbai to pay their final honors in Shukla Residence. On Friday his last rites will be conducted.

Shehnaaz Gill on Sidharth Shukla death

Sources close to the actor and individuals who went to his house and told Sidharth Shukla’s family that Shehnaaz is in a condition of shock and cannot cope with his loss today. Source further stated Shehnaaz was deeply impacted by the untimely death of the Balika Vadhu actor. Shehnaaz was very near to Sidharth, and she frequently publicly demonstrated her affection for him. Her compassion and caring for him never shied away. She said she was even in love with him openly. Fans liked their duo much after BB 13, and invented their moniker with affection, Sidnaaz. In two recent programs, Back-to-Back Bigg Boss OTT and Dances Deewane 3, the reported couple had featured.

Sidharth Shukla breathed his last in Shehnaaz Gill’s arms

Sidharth was still complaining of discomfort, and Shehnaaz and his mother begged him to relax. Sidharth was unable to sleep, on the other hand; thus Shehnaaz was requested to remain with him and pat on his back. Sidharth lay on the lap of Shehnhaaz at 1:00 a.m., and the latter walked away gently. She slept, too, and when she woke up at 7am, she found Sidharth sleeping in the same position without moving, and he didn’t stir when she tried to wake him up. From the 12th story to the fifth level, where his family resided, Shehnaaz was terrified and hurried. She notified Sidharth’s sister and phoned their doctor of the family, who told Sidharth that he hadn’t been there anymore.

Ye ‘Dil’ hai Muskil

Why are young people suffering from heart attacks? The death of Siddharth Shukla, 40 years old, has stunned everyone. Initial stories indicating that a heart attack is the reason for Thursday’s death were killed, along with the big boss winner Season-13. In recent times, heart disease has been a worry for health professionals among young Indian people. The question is why in very young age groups in India there has been an increase in cardiac attack.

Concluding Remarks

The greatest way I can escape the trap of thinking that you have anything to lose is to remember that you will die. No excuse to not follow your heart. Nobody wants to die. Nobody wants to die. Such people don’t even want to die to go to paradise to get there. And yet death is our common destination. Nobody has ever avoided it and this is why death is perhaps the finest invention of existence. Life is the agent of transformation. The old one is clearing way for the new one.

Death is, however tragic, probably God’s most beautiful creation. Death is merely another trip; birth and life will never take place without death. It’s unavoidable to lose somebody. Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, illustrates this wonders: Death is transitory and the meaning of life and death. Death is temporary. Death is a normal part of life, we have to realize. Death gives life its full significance. Let life be like summer flowers, let life be lovely and death be like fall leaves. But would it not be much easier to face our own mortality, rather than being unhappy, knowing that our life has been fully and without regret? Even if we don’t want to go to die, it’s just as unavoidable for the sun at night. In conclusion, when your time comes, you don’t have to die happy but you need to die satisfied, since from start to finish you have lived your life.

Continue Reading

New Social Compact

4.1 billion lack social safety net

Published

on

More than four billion people live without any welfare protection today to cushion them from crisis, the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday, while highlighting how the COVID-19 crisis has pushed up government spending by some 30 per cent.

Leading the call for countries to extend social safety nets far more widely than they do now, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder insisted that such a move would help future-proof workers and businesses in the face of new challenges.

“This is a pivotal moment to harness the pandemic response to build a new generation of rights-based social protection systems,” said Mr. Ryder.

“These can cushion people from future crises and give workers and businesses the security to tackle the multiple transitions ahead with confidence and with hope. We must recognize that effective and comprehensive social protection is not just essential for social justice and decent work but for creating a sustainable and resilient future too.”

In a new report the UN body acknowledged that the COVID-19 crisis had led to greater social protections worldwide, albeit mainly in wealthy countries.

It noted that only 47 per cent of the global population are covered by at least one social protection benefit, while only one in four children has access to national welfare safety nets.

Newborns’ needs unmet

Further research indicated that only 45 per cent of women with newborns worldwide receive a cash benefit, while only one in three people with severe disabilities receive a disability benefit.

Coverage of unemployment benefits is even lower, ILO said, with only 18.6 per cent of jobless workers effectively covered globally.

On retirement welfare, the UN body found that although nearly eight in 10 people receive some form of pension, major disparities remain across regions, between rural and urban areas and women and men.

Regional imbalances

The ILO report underscores the significant regional inequalities in social protection.

Europe and Central Asia have the highest rates of coverage, with 84 per cent of people having access to at least one benefit.

Countries in the Americas are also above the global average (64.3 per cent), in stark contrast to welfare roll-out in Asia and the Pacific (44 per cent), the Arab States (40 per cent) and Africa (17.4 per cent).

Highlighting differences in government spending on social protection, ILO said that high-income countries spend 16.4 per cent of national turnover (above the 13 per cent global average, excluding health), while low-income countries budget just 1.1 per cent.

Billions more needed

The UN body noted that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have had to increase spending massively to ensure minimum social protection for all, by around 30 per cent.

And it maintained that to guarantee basic social protection coverage, low-income countries would need to invest an additional $77.9 billion per year, lower-middle-income countries an additional $362.9 billion and upper-middle-income countries a further $750.8 billion annually. That’s equivalent to 15.9 per cent, 5.1 per cent and 3.1 per cent of their GDP, respectively.

“There is an enormous push for countries to move to fiscal consolidation, after the massive public expenditure of their crisis response measures, but it would be seriously damaging to cut back on social protection; investment is required here and now,” said Shahra Razavi, Director, ILO Social Protection Department.

Underscoring the multiple benefits of social welfare protection, Ms. Razavi insisted that it could promoted “better health and education, greater equality, more sustainable economic systems, better managed migration and the observance of core rights…The benefits of success will reach beyond national borders to benefit us all”.

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Trending