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COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation for millions of women by rising sexual harassment, especially during lockdowns, and by erecting new barriers to health care and jobs. Pixabay

The U.N. Population Fund called on nations Wednesday to respect bodily autonomy as a universal right, saying too many women and girls are denied this basic power over their own bodies.

“The right to autonomy over our bodies means that we must have the power and agency to make choices without fear of violence or having someone else decide for us,” UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem told reporters.

Those other decision-makers include partners, family members, society, and government.

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In a new report, “My Body is My Own,” UNFPA reviewed data from nearly 60 countries, representing about a quarter of the world’s population. It found that nearly half of the women lack the power to make their own decisions about their health care, whether or not to use contraception or to have sexual intercourse with a partner.

Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund. Wikimedia Commons

“A woman who has control over her body is more likely to have power in other spheres of her life,” Kanem said.

But when they are denied this power, she said it reinforces inequalities and perpetuates violence arising from gender discrimination, which is at the root of the problem.

“When control rests elsewhere, autonomy remains perpetually out of reach,” the report notes.

Crimes and practices that violate a woman’s bodily autonomy include “honor” killings, forced and early marriage, “virginity” tests, and female genital mutilation. Forced pregnancy or abortion also violates a woman’s power to make decisions concerning her body.

“Some violations, such as rape, maybe criminalized, but then not always prosecuted and punished,” Kanem said. “Other violations go unchallenged altogether because they are reinforced by community norms, practices, and laws.”

According to Kanem, a woman who has authority of her body is more likely to gain power in other areas of her life. Pixabay

Despite constitutional guarantees of gender equality in many countries, the report says on average, women globally enjoy only 75% of the legal rights of men.

Kanem said COVID-19 has worsened the situation for millions of women, increasing sexual violence, especially during lockdowns, creating new barriers to access to health care, and job and education losses.

The report notes that bodily autonomy is an issue for other often marginalized groups, including unmarried women, LGBTI communities, and persons with disabilities.

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No country has achieved total gender equality, but among those with the best track record are Sweden, Uruguay, Cambodia, Finland, and the Netherlands.

“A diversity that shows you that this aspirational value doesn’t really depend on culture or location,” Kanem said, noting that the same is true at the bottom of the scale.

She said governments have a lead role to play by fulfilling obligations under human rights treaties and altering social, political, institutional, and economic structures that reinforce gender inequalities. (VOA/KB)



Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday asked the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to prevent dumping of toxic wastes in India.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday asked the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to prevent dumping of toxic wastes in India. Speaking at an event to celebrate DRI's 64th foundation day, Sitharaman lauded DRI's compact strength of about 800 officers for their relentless efforts despite the imminent risks. The Finance Minister stated that the officers may be keeping a low profile, but they are acting like the frontline defence forces, doing spectacular work in safeguarding the economic frontiers of the country. "The recent smuggling attempts of huge quantities of narcotics, gold, red sanders, ivory, cigarettes etc. unearthed by DRI were appreciated by the Finance Minister," the Ministry of Finance said in a statement.

"Sitharaman said that the message through such enforcement actions should be such that these acts of brazen attempts at smuggling are nipped in the bud," the statement added. The Finance Minister also said that better coordination among the law enforcement and intelligence gathering agencies and sharing of actionable intelligence are the way forward in protecting the frontiers of the country more efficiently. "Sitharaman also asked the DRI to focus on interdicting dual use technology items as well as preventing the dumping of toxic wastes in our country," the statement said. (IANS/ MBI)

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Photo by Brandon Romanchuk on Unsplash

Tech giant Amazon has expanded the sound detection capabilities of Alexa along with more features.

Tech giant Amazon has expanded the sound detection capabilities of Alexa along with more features. Alexa can now identify the sounds of running water and appliances beeping, reports Android Central. This means users can set up an Alexa routine to notify themselves when the washer beeps to indicate that laundry is finished, the report said.

When Alexa detects that the faucet has been left open, it will send users a notification as well so they can take appropriate action, it added. Amazon previously said at its event in September that it would add the ability to programme Alexa to recognise custom sounds, but that feature has yet to arrive. Having said that, the two new sound detection capabilities not only help users save energy, but they also make it easier to avoid paying for unnecessary charges on your home utilities, the report said.

The retail giant has also announced ultrasound motion detection, which will allow you to set up "Occupancy Routines" on additional Echo devices. This feature allows your smart speaker to detect nearby motion and initiate a routine, such as turning on the lights. It is compatible with many of the best Alexa speakers including the 4th-gen Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Dot with Clock. (IANS/ MBI)

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Comforting Christmas cocktails help you enjoy the celebrations and get into the festive spirit.

By Olivia Sarkar
It's the holiday season, which means it's time to be merry! As the month of December approaches, we're all in a festive mindset. With Christmas just around the corner, there will be plenty of parties and get-togethers with friends and family.

Comforting Christmas cocktails help you enjoy the celebrations and get into the festive spirit. The Leela Palaces, Hotels, and Resorts offer distinctive cocktails ranging from Hot Toddies to Decadent Egg Nogs. Sit back and enjoy one martini at a time to make the festive season a little brighter.

Dirty Chai Eggnog:

Eggnog is a Christmas favorite that is accustomed to toasts for good health and prosperity. It is an American tradition that has spread around the world. Historically, it has been made using eggs, milk, and alcohol. Our culinary artists have given an Indian twist to this winter drink, making it quintessentially desi!


30 ml Bourbon
30 ml Baileys
90 ml Hot milk tea
Whole Spices
Sweet cream foam to top up

Cinnamon powder and star anise.

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