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Why Cholera Still Kills in Haiti? Dirty Job and Unhygienic Environment likely to be the prime Causes
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, December 31, 2016- The men strip off their clothes, wrap themselves in rags and plug their nostrils with tobacco to hide the stench. They squeeze into a cramped outhouse with a reeking pit to scoop buckets of human excrement with their bare hands.
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It’s just another night’s work for this four-man team of “bayakou” — the Haitian waste cleaners who take to the streets at night doing a miserable, indispensable job that creates such social scorn that few admit they do it at all.
“The hardest part is going into the pit. You have to get used to it,” said crew boss Auguste Augustin as his shoeless team worked by candlelight, filling sacks with human waste to be loaded into a wheelbarrow and dumped before sunrise.
The pit latrine cleaners form the lowest ranks of a primitive sanitation system that is largely responsible for the fierce persistence of cholera in this country since it was introduced to the country’s largest river in October 2010 by sewage from a base of U.N. peacekeepers. Haiti still relies mostly on crude methods of waste disposal that have crippled its ability to combat a water-borne illness that can cause diarrhea so severe that victims can die of dehydration in hours if they don’t get treatment. It has sickened roughly 800,000 people and killed at least 9,500.
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The U.N., which this month acknowledged not doing enough to help the country fight cholera while stopping short of an admission of responsibility for introducing it, has announced a new fundraising plan to battle the easily treatable disease. It seeks to raise $400 million from U.N. member states, with the first $200 million dedicated in large part to treating patients with care like oral rehydration fluids, while promoting improvements in hygiene by distributing supplies like chlorine and soap. Improving water, sanitation and health systems are also stated goals of this first phase.
But critics say the U.N. has failed to consistently focus on the long-term problem — how Haitians dispose of their waste and get their water. What’s needed, critics say, are sustained investments in infrastructure that would prevent fecal matter from contaminating water supplies and continuing the cycle of disease.
“The $200 million for cholera control is desperately needed to stop deaths from cholera, and must be followed by robust efforts to put in the clean water and sanitation that will fully eliminate the disease,” said Beatrice Lindstrom, a lawyer with the nonprofit Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.
Lack of sewage treatment
There’s hardly any sewage treatment in Haiti more than six years after the worst epidemic of cholera in recent history began here. In a country where flush toilets are used by less than 10 percent of the population, millions of poor Haitians defecate in fields and gullies, dispose of their waste in plastic bags they throw into vacant lots, or use pit latrines that get emptied by bayakou for a fee.
The country’s first wastewater treatment facility, opened in 2012 north of Port-au-Prince with international money, closed two years ago because authorities lack the money to operate it. Another plant with lagoons to break down waste in nearby Morne-a-Cabrit is operating below capacity. There are three smaller sites in the rest of country of over 10 million people, but they are semi-operational at best.
Paul Christian Namphy, a coordinator with Haiti’s under-resourced Water and Sanitation Authority, estimates the Morne-a-Cabrit plant, which charges septic haulers a disposal fee of $2.50 per cubic meter, receives 10 percent of the human waste generated in Port-au-Prince’s metropolitan area.
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The United Nations is now pressing member states to ramp up donations to fund the latest initiative to fight cholera in Haiti.
“I want enough cash in the bank so that we can be sure of being able to have this response capacity right through into 2018. Then we can really get this outbreak right down, numbers really small,” David Nabarro, a special adviser to the U.N.’s secretary-general, said in a statement. “And then if we combine it with water supplies and sanitation for every Haitian, cholera will go.”
Complicating matters is that the cholera bacteria, previously unknown in the country, has adapted to waterways and become endemic in the country. Once that has occurred, in general, “it’s really difficult although not impossible to eradicate,” said Afsar Ali, a University of Florida researcher.
A major challenge is figuring out how to engage Haiti’s bayakou and change behaviors. Some of the nocturnal workers are hired by sanitation companies, but most are independent operators who empty into drainage canals in violation of the law, creating ideal conditions for the spread of cholera and other diseases.
“The bayakou need some sort of carrot to do things the right way, otherwise they’ll continue to engage in bad practices,” Namphy said.
But simply finding bayakou is tricky because they worry about getting arrested for illegal waste disposal and many don’t readily admit they do such a socially scorned job.
Little hope for change
Augustin has no shame talking about his labor. He’s been doing it for decades and readily discussed it on a recent evening, saying he’s proud his hard work feeds his family in a desperately poor country.
But the 48-year-old is weary of dreaming about pit latrines when he sleeps during the day. The dank holes are dangerous places, he says, because sharp objects are sometimes thrown down. He nearly died of tetanus a few years ago after getting cut by broken crockery in a customer’s latrine.
“I wouldn’t say no to doing this work a different way,” he said on a recent night cleaning a latrine, his white work rags spotted with excrement.
Haitian officials, meanwhile, are not holding their breath for the $400 million “new approach” announced by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as his tenure draws to a close.
Expectations were raised in 2012 when Ban announced a $2.27 billion, 10-year plan to eradicate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. At the time, U.N. officials in Haiti said 70 percent of that plan would go toward developing water and sanitation infrastructure. But that initiative has been woefully underfunded.
“If sustained investments had been made years ago, I don’t think we’d still be in this situation,” said Dr. Louise Ivers, a senior policy adviser with Partners in Health, a Boston-based health care organization that has worked in Haiti since the 1980s. (VOA)
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.