ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Women at Risk in the Unregulated Surrogacy 'Industry'

In recent times India has become a haven for commercial surrogacy, a controversial assisted reproductive technology. Acute poverty means that there are always women ready to rent their wombs. But lack of laws and regulations means there is no transparency in the business of surrogacy and the surrogate mothers are prone to exploitation. The Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill 2013 aims to mend matters. This exploratory study conducted in Kolkata brings to light challenges that any legislation dealing with surrogacy must address. It shows how poor women who rent their wombs for money--ignoring social stigma, health hazards, fear and mental stress--are vulnerable to exploitation.

Tribal Migrant Women as Domestic Workers in Mumbai

Focusing on female migrant domestic workers from Jharkhand, this article looks at their lives before and after migration. Jharkhand witnesses heavy migration and mobility to cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, especially female migration. Girls and young women coming from marginalised communities migrate through different means and organisations like placement agencies, religious institutions or with the help of friends or relatives. Most of them get into the unorganised sector such as domestic work. Lack of social security measures continues to be a major challenge and a source of distress for these workers.

Studying Women Seeking Abortions

Abortion in Asia: Local Dilemmas, Global Politics edited by Andrea Whittaker, New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2013; pp xii + 253, Rs 895.

Contrived Confusions

Ethical dilemmas surrounding abortion, particularly the conflict between human and legal rights of a childbearing woman and the so-called rights of an unborn child, are quite legitimate. However, the pro-life activists should desist from treating a woman as mere receptacle for the unborn child, taking away her inalienable right to control her own body.

Nutrition: What Needs To Be Done?

About 805 million people - one in nine people worldwide - remain chronically hungry. Ending hunger and malnutrition requires strong political commitment at the highest level, effective coordination among various ministries and partners, and broad-based social participation. Three policy priorities are crucial to ending malnutrition - expansion of social protection; making smallholder agriculture more nutrition sensitive; and focusing on under-fi ve child and maternal nutrition defi ciencies. An integrated approach is needed to ensure that food consumed is nutritious, wholesome, acceptable, safe and affordable, especially to the poorest and most vulnerable.

Dangerous Motherhood

Despite recent improvements in the maternal health scenario in rural Assam, it remains the state with the highest number of maternal deaths in the country. Institutional delivery, antenatal care, and postnatal care have been actively promoted by the state to deal with the situation. However, state policies are still incongruously geared towards addressing the issue without taking sufficient note of the various sociocultural impediments in the way of institutional care.

Manipulation by Association

Much of India's nutrition agenda is being driven by the private sector through public-private partnerships and so-called multi-stakeholder dialogues. The new strategies of transnational corporations fall under the category of manipulation by association, where they establish their role and legitimacy by associating themselves with key institutions and people. A prime example of this is the influential 2013 series on maternal and child nutrition published by the Lancet. This comment analyses the issue and proposes some solutions.

Wealth and Health of Children in India

What are the relationships between wealth and children's health in India's states that are as populous as many other countries? Presenting a state-level analysis of the association between state net domestic product per capita and three children's health indicators, this paper describes how these relationships differ in the last two rounds of the National Family Health Survey. It finds evidence that the cross-sectional relationships between aggregate wealth and children's health indicators are positive, yet the association was less steep in the mid-2000s than in the late 1990s. It also finds a negative relationship between growth in SNDP per capita and improvement in state-level children's health indicators. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the kinds of investments which improve health may lead to economic growth, rather than vice versa.

Recent Shifts in Infant Mortality in India

The web version of this article corrects a few errors that appeared in the print edition. The pace of decline in infant mortality in India has quickened in recent years after the introduction of the National Rural Health Mission. However, the post-neonatal deaths have declined faster than the neonatal deaths despite the emphasis on preventing the latter in the health mission. Apart from a number of reasons, this is linked to the poor quality of the public health services in general, and the undernourishment and anaemia levels of pregnant women in particular.

The Plight of Domestic Workers

Domestic work has increasingly become part of the global division of labour and inextricably integrated within it. While migration for domestic work is an opportunity, in the absence of social protection, it also renders such workers more vulnerable. This essay takes its cue from how the feminist movement has approached the contradictions within domestic work and the various problems that domestic workers face. It throws light on the multiple hierarchies that the domestic worker is confronted with, as also the peculiar problems that the Indian domestic worker confronts. It explores a whole lot of different aspects of the domestic employer-employee relation within the context of the near absence of state intervention and the lack of legal protection. It also delves into the attempts that some trade unions, NGOs and church-affiliated organisations have made to bring protective measures and organise domestic workers to win labour rights.

Marriage, Work and Education among Domestic Workers in Kolkata

This paper analyses the findings of a research project undertaken by the School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University on questions of marriage and related issues in the context of paid domestic work among the working women from two squatter colonies in Kolkata. The respondents are seen to be caught between the imperatives of early marriage and girlhood employment, but they insist upon the value of education for their daughters. Many of them have experienced and suffered early marriage and childbirth and are vehement in their rejection of such a trajectory for their daughters, even though not all of them are able to carry through such decisions. Parents from urban working-class neighbourhoods are not obsessed with sexual chastity of their daughters; they accept courtships and elopements, sometimes hailing the latter with some relief. What these mothers share with their middle class counterparts is an interest in tremendous investment in their children's education, which is in both cases accompanied by great expectations for the future.

Abortion Services and Providers' Perceptions: Gender Dimensions

This paper explores the gender dimensions of abortion-service providers' perceptions of women who access such care. A study in two districts of Maharashtra indicates that providers' responses to abortion situations are shaped largely by their attitude towards women, to women's health care and especially to abortion care. These attitudes in turn influence women's access to abortion and to the quality of service.

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