The Gender Beat: Bangladesh’s First Female Journalist Dies; Critically Injured Transgender Activist Kept Waiting in Pakistan Hospital

A round-up of what’s happening in the worlds of gender and sexuality

Alesha, who was shot 8 times, in hospital. Credit: Trans Action Khyber Pakhtunkhwa/Facebook

Alesha, who was shot eight times, in hospital. Credit: Trans Action Khyber Pakhtunkhwa/Facebook

Brothers allegedly kidnap, rape minor Dalit girl

Brothers Sonu Yadav and Juggi Lal allegedly kidnapped and raped a 16-year-old Dalit girl in an animal pound in the Fatehpur district of Uttar Pradesh for three days.

The girl had gone missing on May 20 and was found injured and crying for help on the night of May 22 at the pound. The perpetrators are absconding.

Drought hurts women, Dalits more

India’s worst drought in decades disproportionately impacts women and Dalits, according to a Reuters report.

The government estimates that the drought has affected more than 330 million people across 13 states.

“Women are the most vulnerable during drought because it is their duty to fetch water and provide food for the family,” Varsha Deshpande, a lawyer and women’s rights activist in Maharashtra told the Thomson Reuters foundation. Deshpande added that sex trafficking and dowry harassment increases during times of drought.

As drought-induced migration increases, women, children and the elderly are being left behind and become vulnerable to traffickers. Girls are being taken out of school in order to tend to household chores, and men are marrying multiple women in order to have someone to fetch more water.

The report adds that relief measures are not reaching Dalit communities affected by the drought.

Bangladesh’s first female journalist, Nurjahan Begum, dies at 91

Nurjahan Begum, Bangladesh’s first woman journalist and editor of Begum, the first magazine for women in the subcontinent, has died, according to a BBC report. Begum edited the magazine up to her death at the age of 91.

“Ms. Begum died on Monday, as a result of health complications related to her age, doctors said. However, she will be remembered for relentlessly pursuing women’s rights and focusing on their successes in every publication of Begum,”  said the report.

Activist shot eight times in Pakistan endures anti-transgender nightmare at hospital

On May 22, a transgender activist in Pakistan named Alesha was shot eight times. Reports say that doctors at the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar kept her waiting in a critically injured condition for over an hour while they debated which ward to put her in – male or female. At first, Alesha was taken to the male ward, but after her colleagues at the organisation Trans Action Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa protested, she was moved to the female ward. However, female patients objected to her being brought there.

In the meantime, her colleagues were allegedly harassed by doctors as they were waiting. One of them wrote on Facebook: “A doctor wants to know how much I charge for dance for a night and another health technician wants to know if I only dance or also perform sex.”

The group is regularly updating its Facebook page with news of Alesha’s condition.

Abolish personal laws, writes Sadia Dehlvi

While a number of Muslim women’s rights organisations, including Bebaak Collective and the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) have called for the reform of Muslim personal laws in India, particularly the removal of triple talaq, polygamy and halala, columnist and author Sadia Dehlvi writes in The Times of India that she believes personal laws should be abolished altogether. Arguing that Islamic law is diverse and not definitive, Delhvi writes, “Islam is dynamic, understood and practised in a variety of ways in different cultures. Patriarchy remains deaf to the Quran’s call for equality, justice and compassion that extends to all humanity.”

On the matter of the Uniform Civil Code in India, Noorjehan Safia Niaz of the BMMA has said, “It is important to point out that national integration cannot happen by a common family law but by treating all citizens equally. There can be no imposition of any kind as this would impinge on the religious freedom and secularism principles enshrined in the Constitution.”

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