11,000 girls in Odisha are mothers before 15: Study

The 2011 Census has come up with the shocking disclosure that girls below the age of 15 in Odisha have given birth to babies when they should have been going to school. The exact figure, the data shows, of girls attaining motherhood even before 15 is 11,000. The figures point a finger to the failure of social welfare programmes and campaigns to contain early marriages and pregnancies. 

Of the 59.09 lakh girls below the age of 15, 41,729 girls (0.7%) were already married. Around one-fourth of the married girls (10,685) in the same age group had delivered before celebrating their 15th birthday. While 3,896 (9.34% of those married) had become mothers of at least one child, 6,789 girls (16.27%) had delivered two children. 

Women and child development minister Usha Devi said, "We need to focus more on creating awareness among parents because that is the only way to prevent underage marriages and pregnancies." 

Women's rights campaigners attribute the early pregnancies to three factors. "Tribals have a tendency to marry off their boys and girls early. Second, economically weak sections don't wait for 18 years for their girl's marriage for purposes of social security," said Namrata Chadha, a women's rights campaigner. 

RD Women's College principal Chitrangada Samanta Singhar said the findings are shocking. "The Right to Education Act envisages education for all children below 14. But it seems many girls in this age group are burdened with children," she said. 

"Early pregnancy is dangerous for both the mother and child. This could be a reason behind the high infant and maternal mortality rates in the state," said gynaecologist R K Purohit. 

Odisha's maternal mortality ratio (MMR) per 1,000 women is 235 compared to the all-India figure of 178. The infant mortality rate is 57 compared to 44 at the national level (SRS-2012). 

In neighbouring Chhattisgarh, around 6,400 girls become mothers before 15, while in Jharkhand their number stands at over 12,000. At the national level, 18.12 lakh of the 17.80 crore girls below 15 years are married. Around 4.5 lakh in the age group (around 25% of those married) had delivered; while 1.36 lakh had delivered one child, 3.20 lakh had delivered two. 

In the age group of 15-19 years, there are 2.90 lakh married women in Odisha. Of them, over 65,000 (22.52%) had given birth to one child, over 12,000 (4.23%) to two children, 4,400 (1.55%) to three children and 5,500 (1.92%) to four children. 

Out of the total 2 crore women in Odisha reported during the census count, 1.19 crore are married (57.76%) and gave birth to on an average 2.6 children. Of the total 1.19 crore married women, 14.27% have not given birth to any child. While 17.04% delivered one child, 22.93% gave birth to two, 17.74% to three, 12.23% to four, 7.13% to five, 4.10% to six and 4.56% to seven or more.

Women-only 'pink rickshaw' hits the road in Lahore

Zar Aslam launches service after becoming fed up with being groped and harassed by male rickshaw drivers.

A Pakistani woman, fed up with being groped and harassed by male rickshaw drivers, has launched her own service exclusively for women in her home city of Lahore.
Zar Aslam, president of Pakistan’s non-profit Environment Protection Fund, said she once narrowly escaped kidnapping by a rickshaw driver when she was a student, which triggered the idea of launching her Pink Rickshaw service.
Pakistan is notorious for sexual abuse of women. Offenders often go unpunished within a legal system that can treat the victims as the guilty party.
“This is another step towards women’s financial and professional empowerment,” Aslam said at her home in Lahore. “I and my co-workers face harassment by male auto drivers or by passersby while waiting for public transport.”
The rickshaws are covered, three-wheel motorcycles. Aslam has bought one and added fans, doors and headlights and painted it pink and white. Aslam is looking for sponsors to help her have at least 25 in operation by the end of the year.
“One rickshaw costs 300,000 rupees [£3,250], therefore it cannot be done without sponsorship from donors,” she said, adding that the government had not offered assistance. “We will lease out the rickshaws to deserving females on easy instalment. We will teach them driving and will also help them get the driving licence.”

Another woman raped in Delhi taxi, driver arrested

A 32-year-old working woman who hired a cab from a Delhi Metro station was raped at a secluded spot by the driver, who was arrested after a brief chase, police said on Friday.

The shocking crime — the second such incident in four months — took place in west Delhi's sprawling Dwarka area on Thursday night, soon after she hired the black colour taxi with a yellow stripe around 10.30pm at Dwarka Mor station to reach her Madhu Vihar residence.

The woman works in a shopping Mall in Rajouri Garden, also in west Delhi, deputy commissioner of police RA Sanjeev said.

He said the driver, Ramesh Kumar, 38, picked up another passenger and dropped him at Rajapuri. He then took the woman to a secluded spot on the pretext of filling up CNG.

He then raped the victim, the officer said.

The victim told police that she was punched and slapped on her head and face when she tried to resist the criminal assault.

A passing scooterist heard the woman's screams and alerted a Delhi Police Control Room patrol van stationed some 75 meters away.

Just as the police van cruised to the crime spot, the driver took off in his taxi, with the woman still inside. 

A chase followed, and the taxi was forced to stop some half a kilometre away. "The driver tried escape but we arrested him," said Sanjeev.

Police said the driver was a resident of Najafgarh and had been plying a taxi since 1996.

He has been booked on charges of rape, wrongful confinement, voluntarily causing hurt and criminal intimidation.

The Thursday incident follows the December 5 rape of another woman in an Uber taxi. That driver, 32-years old, is now facing trial. 

Muslim girl wins Bhagavad Gita contest, says 'humanity is the ultimate religion'

Marryam Siddiqui, a Muslim girl, has won first prize in an inter-school Bhagavad Gita competition.
The 12-year-old Class VI student of Cosmopolitan High School won the 'Gita Champions League' contest for explaining the teachings of the scripture in the best possible manner. Around 3,000 students participated in the event, which was organised by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) in January.
While speaking to news agency ANI, Marryam said, "Humanity is the ultimate religion".
The Gita, believed to be the divine advice of Lord Krishna, is a 700-verse Hindu scripture that is a part of the epic Mahabharata.
Its call for selfless action inspired many leaders of the independence movement, including Mahatma Gandhi who referred to the Gita as his "spiritual dictionary".

Indian-origin lecturer wins top nursing award

An Indian-origin woman here will receive an international award for her work in the healthcare sector for women and refugees, becoming the first Singaporean to get the prestigious biennial prize. 

Subadhra Devi Rai, a senior lecturer at the School of Health Sciences (Nursing) at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), has been named winner of the 2015 International Achievement Award by the International Council of Nurses' Florence Nightingale International Foundation, The Straits Times reported. 

Rai, 51, was selected from a pool of nominees worldwide for her "dedication in providing nursing care to vulnerable populations since the beginning of her career", said Judith Shamian, president of the International Council of Nurses and the Florence Nightingale International Foundation. 

"Her special focus on issues such as gender-based violence, sexual health and reintegration of refugees is particularly topical," Shamian added. 

Rai began her career in Singapore where she worked in the intensive care unit following her general nursing training. It was during her time in Canada's Edmonton Centre for Survivors of Torture and Trauma in 1997 that she began to focus on health issues concerning women and refugees.

13 Year Old Indian Girl Begins Masters Studies In Microbiology

PHOTO: 13 Year Old Indian Girl Begins Masters Studies In Microbiology

In a country where many girls are still discouraged from going to school, Sushma Verma is a revelation. The 13-year-old girl from a poor family in North India has enrolled in a master’s degree in microbiology. She finished high school at 7 & earned an Undergraduate Degree at age 13

Sushma begins her studies next week at Lucknow’s B. R. Ambedkar Central University and her first choice was to become a doctor, but she cannot take the test to qualify for medical school until she is 18 “So I opted for the MSc and then I will do a doctorate,” she said.

Sushma is not the first high-achiever in her family. Her older brother graduated from high school at 9, and in 2007 became one of India’s youngest computer science graduates at 14. 
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Haryana: Two College-going sisters thrash three molesters in moving bus as passengers look on

Two college-going sisters fought three men who were harassing them onboard a Haryana Roadways bus, even as the fellow passengers did not bother to help them.

 In a rare show of courage, two college-going sisters thrashed three men inside a bus, even as passengers chose to look the other way.

Both sisters confronted the accused and mustered enough courage to thrash them, with one of the girls even hitting the youths with her belt, for allegedly outraging their modesty.

The entire incident, recorded by a passenger on mobile phone, went viral both on television and social media. It showed the two girls using hand and belt to thrash the men, who appeared to be taken by surprise.

A case has been registered against three youths in this connection, police said today. No arrest has, however, been made so far.

The accused have been identified as Kuldeep, Mohit and Deepak, they said, adding that a case under section 354 (assault or criminal force with intent to outrage woman’s modesty) and section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of IPC have been registered against them.

The victims in their complaint alleged that they were “teased” by some youths in a Haryana Roadways bus when they were going to their college on Friday. When the victims objected, one of the accused started beating them up.

Not to give up easily, the girls fought with the accused as fellow passengers remained mute spectators. One of the victims even hit the accused with a belt, police said.

One of the girls said, “They threatened us and abused us. One of them touched my sister inappropriately. They started making obscene gestures … After heated exchanges, one of the boys called his friends asking him to beat us up. One of them beat my sister while two others caught hold of me.

“Then, I whipped out my belt at thrashed them. They pushed us out of the bus when it slowed down,” she narrated.

Meanwhile, the father of the two sisters alleged that there was pressure from the panchayat that the girls should withdraw the complaint.

SP Rohtak Shanshank Anand told PTI over phone, “We have identified the accused and soon they will be arrested. These are the brave girls of the country and we fully support them.”