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Hindu woman dries saree

Scores of Indian women have taken to social media declaring themselves "Happy to Bleed," after the head of a famous Hindu temple said he would consider allowing women in if there was a machine to check that they were not menstruating.

Aarefa Johari

Aarefa Johari is a journalist and an activist working to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the Bohra Community in India. Her work has touched the lives of several families - some of whom have come back to Aarefa with the self-promise to the effect that they will not circumcise their girls.


Given the number of incidents one hears about, reads about, and watches reports of, on the news, it doesn’t take much effort to really arrive at the true conclusion: that safety is still elusive. Instead of sitting back and attempting to reach out to safety through measures doled out by another, Shruti Kapoor decided to get on the other side of the fence and make a difference for girls world over.

Sanju Manjhi, the son of Suresh Manhji, stands in the doorway of his solar-power-lit home in Dharnai village, in India's Bihar state. | Photo: Avik Roy

Life has been transformed for the 2,400 residents of Dharnai, a village in Bihar, India’s poorest state, by the completion of a solar-powered micro-grid, bringing them light and power for all their daily needs after 30 years with no electricity.

 Kounsar at the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in Srinagar

In Jammu and Kashmir state, mental illness is stigmatized, especially among girls and women...

Forest women in Anantagiri forest in the south-east of India check out their solar dryer. | Photo: Stella Paul/IPS.

Chintapakka Jambulamma, 34, looks admiringly at a solar dryer. It’s the prized possession of the Advitalli Tribal Women’s Co-operative Society- a collective of women entrepreneurs that she leads.

 Woman trains to climb coconut trees in Kerala

Shimmying up coconut trees to harvest coconuts was always a man’s job in India. But Lissy Thottiyil, a 43-year-old mother in southwestern Kerala state, is among a rising number of women bucking the trend.


The holy city of Vrindavan in India is known as a popular Hindu pilgrimage centre but it is also known as the 'city of widows', with an estimated 20,000 calling it home.

The ancient Hindu tradition of widows throwing themselves on their husband's funeral pyre to join his soul in death was banned by the British in 1829. Yet the long-held belief that a widow's fate is intertwined with that of her husband continues in many parts of India today. Many are shunned by their family and are seen as a financial drain.

Participants in the Kudumbashree program walk through a field in southern India's Kerala state. The program teaches women farming and other skills, giving them experience in managing, organizing and making tough economic decisions. (Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times / September 7, 2013)

Vilasini Ramachandra lilts through a field in delicate sandals in southern India's Kerala state, proudly pointing out the bounty she and her friends have teased from the rich earth: here the tapioca; there the elephant yams; farther afield, the turmeric.

A mentally ill woman is chained to a cement post outside a Darga Muslim Tomb in Hyderabad, India, that is believed to have curative powers. | Photo: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Many Indian villagers blame evil spirits, and stigma still runs deep. As suicides soar, officials focus on training community-based mental health workers.

Indian protesters hold candles and block a road during a December rally in New Delhi after the cremation of a woman who was gang-raped and died of her injuries two weeks later. (Andrew Caballero-Reyonlds / AFP/Getty Images)

A woman in New Delhi speaks of a life lived in fear after the December gang rape and fatal beating of a 23-year-old on a commuter bus.


When Ayesha was 13, she fell in love with a man who promised to marry her and nurture her singing aspirations, but instead turned out to be a sex trafficker....