Sunday March 18, 2018
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First modelling agency for transgenders in India


By Nivedita

New Delhi: The LGBT Indian community, which is fighting a legal battle asking to revoke Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code on the grounds of violation of human rights, is set to launch the first of its kind modelling agency for transgenders.

The idea, according to Delhi-based transgender activist Rudrani Chettri, evolved out of a “feeling of frustration seeing many young beautiful transgenders who are made to feel ugly” from a young age.

“I was one of them and there was no such option open to me when I was young. It’s also a desperate desire amongst us to be seen and to be accepted into the mainstream society and to get jobs like everyone else. I hope this creates a spark in young transgenders to follow their dreams,” Chettri, founder of Mitr Trust, a city-based lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) charity said.

Chettri feels that time and again, the community has been a victim of prejudice in society, in the workplace and among their families and local communities, which ultimately leads them to begging or sex work to make a living. She hopes the platform helps in an image overhaul.

“This is an effort by the transgender community to improve our social and personal image, and to raise awareness about the serious funding crisis affecting us. We are not men, we are not women. We are transgenders and are proud of it,” Chettri said.

As part of its activities, the agency aims is to identify five top models and help them launch into mainstream fashion media. They have also kept a pan-India audition and teamed up with fashion stylist and photographer Rishi Raj, who will work towards getting them a spread in a leading fashion magazine.

A walk-in model audition is scheduled for Sunday and the chosen models will go through a photo shoot.

“I want this photo shoot to enhance and highlight the natural androgynous beauty of the transgender/hijra community,” Raj said.

He felt the concept of a modelling agency for transgenders may do well given how the “world is opening up” to them.

“The greatest example in the recent past being Caitlyn Jenner (international celebrity Bruce Jenner, who underwent sex transition). Fashion takes great pride in breaking boundaries and creating new trends so in a Utopian scenario, the modelling agency should do well. This activity will create awareness about the Indian transgender community,” he added.

In addition, the Mitr Trust has been working with an Indian-British team of filmmakers for the last one year to closely document the lives and struggles of transgenders. The organisation however currently lacks money to support the dream.

A crowdfunding campaign has been started on the BitGiving online platform to finance the endeavour.

“We want to raise awareness for the funding. This will allow us to carry on working with the community as we have not been able to pay our workers for eight months now, nor have we been able to provide condoms to high-risk sex workers,” said Chettri.

On Tuesday, the LGBT community rejoiced at the Supreme Court’s decision to refer to a constitution bench a batch of curative petitions seeking a relook at its earlier verdict upholding the validity of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises homosexuality.(IANS)(image:

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Pentavalent vaccine: Doctors raise red flag

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive

the new Hepatitis B vaccine for adults is called Heplisav-B.
India's PV to be reexamined because of its harmful effects. .
  • Pentavalent vaccine was introduced in India six years ago
  • It is since then have been a cause of many deaths
  • Doctors want it to be reexamined before continuing its use

Pentavalent vaccine (PV), that was introduced by India a little over six years ago, doubled the deaths of children soon after vaccination compared to the DPT (Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus) vaccine, according to a new study that calls for a “rigorous review of the deaths following vaccination with PV”.

Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons
PV has been cause of many deaths in past years. Wikimedia Commons

Government records show that there were 10,612 deaths following vaccination (both PV and DPT) in the last 10 years. There was a huge increase in these numbers in 2017, which the Health Ministry has promised to study. “The present analysis could be a starting point in the quest to reduce the numbers of such deaths,” authors of the new study say.

The study by Dr Jacob Puliyel, Head of Pediatrics at St Stephens Hospital, and Dr V. Sreenivas, Professor of Biostatistics at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), both in New Delhi, is published in the peer-reviewed Medical Journal of Dr D.Y. Patil University.

PV is a combination of the DPT vaccine and two more vaccines against Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) and hepatitis B. Starting December 2011, PV was introduced into India’s immunisation programme to replace DPT vaccine in a staged manner with a view to adding protection against Hib and Hepatitis B without increasing the number of injections given to infants.

Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons
Doctors have raised concerns over these vaccines. Wikimedia Commons

But sporadic reports of unexplained deaths following immunisation with PV had been a matter of concern. Puliyel, Sreenivas and their colleagues undertook the study to find out if these deaths were merely coincidental or vaccine-induced.

The authors obtained data of all deaths reported from April 2012 to May 2016 under the Right to Information Act. Data on deaths within 72 hours of administering DPT and PV from different states were used.

For their study, the authors assumed that all deaths within 72 hours of receiving DPT are natural deaths. Using this figure as the baseline, they presumed that any increase in the number of deaths above this baseline among children receiving PV must be caused by this vaccine.

Also Read: With Medicine Running Out, Venezuelans With Transplant Live in Fear

According to their analysis of the data provided by the government, there were 237 deaths within 72 hours of administering the Pentavalent vaccine — twice the death rate among infants who received DPT vaccine.

Extrapolating the data, the authors have estimated that vaccination of 26 million children each year in India would result in 122 additional deaths within 72 hours, due to the switch from DPT to PV.

“There is likely to be 7,020 to 8,190 deaths from PV each year if data from states with the better reporting, namely Manipur and Chandigarh, are projected nationwide,” their report says.

It is important to make sure that these vaccines are reexamined peroperly. VOA

The authors note that while the study looks at the short-term increase in deaths (within three days of vaccination) it does not calculate the potential benefits of PV on infant mortality, for example by protection against lethal diseases like Haemophilus influenza.

In spite of the data presented in this paper from a large cohort, the authors point out that the evidence is merely circumstantial and not conclusive. “These findings of differential death rates between DPT and PV do call for further rigorous prospective population-based investigations,” the study concludes. IANS