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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Impact of my story: woman freed from forced laborer

Its a beautiful, beautiful day. You know why? Because, a woman forced laborer who I had recently reported about,  has just been set free by her employer. Here's the story of her release. You can also read it in the website of IPS News - the media outlet where my story had first appeared.
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The first time I met Sri Lakshmi, she was climbing a flight of stairs in a half-constructed building in the residential area of Vanasthalipuram, in the South Indian city of Hyderabad, carrying a stack of bricks on her head. She was a forced labourer, who received no payment for her work. That was in mid-April.

Last week, I met her again. This time, she was carrying something entirely different: a school bag that belonged to her four-year-old daughter Amlu. Lakshmi was a free citizen and Amlu was going to school for the first time.

Separating our two meetings is a story that was published by IPS entitled ‘No Choice but to Work Without Pay. It was this article that stirred action on the ground, paving the way for Lakshmi’s release.

Here is how it all happened:
Sri Lakshmi, a recently released forced labourer, and her four-year-old daughter Amlu. Credit: Stella Paul/IPS
Sri Lakshmi, a recently released forced labourer, and herfour-year-old daughter Amlu

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Day I Couldn't Urinate: Reporting Sanitation Issues In India

It's well known by now: a majority of Indians do not have a toilet. They urinate and defecate in the open. They include men, women, children and adolescent girls. It’s a shame. It's indignity epitomized. But do you ever think what does a journalist who covers sanitation issues in India go through? Well, it’s the same shame and indignity. Let me tell you about one day - JUST ONE OF THE MANY DAYS - that I had to experience this.

I was in Handitola village in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh state in central India. With me was a local woman social activist. We arrived at the house of the village council head (locally known as 'sarpanch'). As it turned out, she was away from home, and would return in another half an hour. Her son and daughter-in-law were at home and they requested us to sit. They also offered to make tea for us.
A typical community owned pond in a village. Villagers bathe there, as do - often times -their cattle, they wash their clothes and carry home pitchers of water to wash utensils and cook. The banks are usually where they squat on to relieve themselves.The tiny structure is the shrine of the patron god of the village


We were waiting. The house had a neat courtyard, 3 rooms, a nice little veranda and a cowshed. I walked around a bit, peeped here, peeped there. I could see no toilet.

We had eaten a rather large breakfast in the morning at Bhan Didi’s (the activist) place because it was going to be a long day, and I also drank a large glass of chai. Now, I was feeling the pressure on my bladder. I needed to go, urinate. But, there was no place to go.