Delhi, the Gang Rape Capital of the World?

Paris, the love capital of the world. London, the finance capital of the world. Milan, the fashion capital of the world. Delhi, the gang rape capital of the world… How did India get to the point that their capital, Delhi, is so often referred to as the rape capital of the globe, let alone get to the title as the gang rape capital?

The Newspapers on January 27th should have covered how India celebrated Indian Independence Day, but instead, Delhi has made the headlines for, yet another incident of gang rape as a 20-year-old woman was kidnapped from her home and gang-raped as an act of ‘revenge’ after a boy commits suicide.

A senior police officer reports, “The boy committed suicide in November last year and his family blamed the victim for it. The family alleged that it was because of her that the boy took the extreme step. To exact revenge on her, the family members allegedly abducted her. They wanted to teach her a lesson.”

After the young woman/ mother/ sister/ wife, was gang-raped she was paraded by the accused on the streets of Kasturba Nagar with her hair chopped, face blackened, and a shoe garland around her neck.

Why is this becoming a common occurrence in India? How did Delhi get its reputation for being the rape capital of the world?

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2015 it was recorded that a woman reported a rape every 15 minutes in India. What makes this statistic even more harrowing, is that it is believed that 90% of rapes and assaults aren’t even reported by the victims.

With that in mind, it is no surprise that in 2018 India was ranked the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation survey.

In response to this data, experts said India moving to the top position showed not enough was being done to tackle the danger women faced, even after the gang rape and murder of a student, Jyoti Singh on a Delhi bus that made international headline News and made violence against women a national priority.

“India has shown utter disregard and disrespect for women … rape, marital rapes, sexual assault and harassment, female infanticide has gone unabated,” said Manjunath Gangadhara, an official at the Karnataka state government, to The Guardian. “The (world’s) fastest growing economy and leader in space and technology is shamed for violence committed against women.”

Government data shows reported cases of crimes against women in India rose by 83% between 2007 and 2016. There were four cases of rape reported every hour.

Politicians and Police

In the case of the teenage girl in Uttar, India in 2017, whose name is ironically protected under Indian law., the same legal system that failed to protect her against her assailant, Former BJP lawmaker Kuldeep Sengar. Sengar who was allegedly known as a ‘muscle man’ for using ‘gangster politics’, was accused of raping the 17-year-old when she approached Sengar for a job in June 2017. The victim alleges she was kidnapped and raped for more than a week by him and others.

Nearly two years later, Sengar was arrested for rape under child protection laws in 2019. However, this long journey to justice is one example of why 90% of rape victims in India do not come forward. Not only was the victim not taken seriously by the police but her family was threatened. For instance, it has been said that the victim’s father was arrested for possessing an illegal firearm. He died 3 days later in police custody.

In addition, the victim was seriously injured in a suspicious car crash in July. While she survived, both her aunts, who had been travelling with her, died and her lawyer was seriously injured. The crash happened in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where Sengar was a lawmaker from Unnao district. In protest, the victim tortured herself, by setting herself on fire outside a BJP’s house. In order to cover up the crime of this child’s sexual abuse so many have died. The eventual conviction and imprisonment of Sengar is not justice.

Many British and Indian journalists have investigated many cases and uncovered how many authority figures have tried to cover up rape cases. The verdict against Sengar came in the wake of the gang rape and murder of a 27-year-old vet in the southern city of Hyderabad that made global headlines. It wasn’t until the public took to the streets and protest for justice for the daughters of India. India’s federal investigation agency took over the case and arrested Atul Sengar, Kuldeep Sengar’s brother, and 10 others on charges of murder during this case.

Continuous Corruption

Even in the case of Jyoti Singh, in 2012, where her parents made a Trust in her name, the Nirbhaya Jyoti Trust. Nirbhaya – Hindi for fearless is the name by which Jyoti came to be known because Indian law initially prevented the publication of her identity, similar to the cases above. The reason for this is that the authorities were anxious to avoid the creation of a martyr.

They were quick to threaten publications with section 228a of the Indian penal code and the possibility of two years in jail for identifying a rape victim. However, the code also contains a clause permitting the next of kin to give written consent. Therefore, after Jyoti’s family consented to her name being published, it started to be used more often. Her image remains private.

Jyoti’s mother explains how she chose to “disclose the name of my daughter, Jyoti Singh. She was a victim. She did not commit any crime. Why should we suppress her details? They, who gang-raped and murdered her, should hide their names for committing that brutal act.”

India’s Verdict

Violence against women in India appears to be a systemic issue. It is apparent, the more powerful one is, or if you’re in the position of political or institutional power, the whole system seems to be at your disposal.

However, contrary to this case, it is not just the elite. In most cases, women know their attacker, and often it is their husband. Something that worried the globe during the coronavirus pandemic as domestic violence rose by at least 20% globally during lockdowns. The public understanding of what rape is and who might be guilty of rape is extremely narrow. Also, the tendency is still to side with the accused and not with the accuser. The victim of Sengar did not receive a medical examination until April 2018, nearly a year after the attack happened.

Whilst the government has tried to improve things with fast-track courts, and tougher sentencing, things aren’t getting better. This may be due to enforcement evidently being non-existent.

As a nation, India prides itself on its democracy, on its soring economic growth, and place on the world’s stage. Yet, there is a growing sense of shame in India to be known as the rape capital of the world.

Made in India vs Make in India

“This is the best time ever to be in India & it is even better to Make in India” Prime Minister Narendra Modi- February 13th, 2016

Made In vs Make In Explained

The primary difference between ‘Make in India’ and ‘Made in India’ can be explained as a bottle of Coke is manufactured in India but eventually, those companies are not Indian, hence Coke can’t be compared with ‘Made in India’.

PM Modi is turning to industrial corporate farming companies rather than using their own farmers. This will leave millions of farmers jobless and will destroy the environment – an example of Make in India but NOT Made in India. India is just the beginning: The worry is that India is an experiment and that the Corporates around the world are looking at how it will play out.

So, what does this have to do with the Indian Farmers?

The Indian Farms Reforms of 2020 refers to the Agricultural Bills passed by the Lol Sabha (or House of People, the lower house of the bicameral Parliament of India) on 17th September 2020, and by the Rajya Sabha (or the Council of States, the upper house of the bicameral Parliament of India) on 20th September 2020. The three new laws aim to deregulate Indian agriculture, by encouraging farmers to sell directly to companies. The government has long been a middleman, guaranteeing minimum prices for certain crops. The laws say farmers will still have price assurances, but the language is vague, and farmers are nervous about losing government support.

Taken together, the reforms will loosen rules around the sale, pricing, and storage of farm produce – rules that have protected India’s farmers from the free market for decades. They also allow private buyers to hoard essential commodities for future sales, which only government-authorised agents could do earlier; and they outline rules for contract farming, where farmers tailor their production to suit a specific buyer’s demand. The protests have been the strongest in Punjab and neighbouring Haryana state, where the mandi system is strong and the productivity is high – so only the government has been able to buy that volume of produce at a set price.

One of the biggest changes is that farmers will be allowed to sell their produce at a market price directly to private players – agricultural businesses, supermarket chains, and online grocers. Most Indian farmers currently sell the majority of their produce at government-controlled wholesale markets or mandis at assured floor prices. The reforms, at least on paper, give farmers the option of selling outside of this so-called “mandi system”, but in practice, this will leave the farmers worse off.

These ‘Reform Bills’ while directly impacting on small scale farmers in some regions of India, will have far-reaching consequences for the rest of the world, in small scale farming, employment, environment, and food security.

If the Indian Government succeeds in deregulating farming in India and allowing the corporate sector to drive out small farmers in large numbers, other countries will follow suit. In other words, State Governments will try to do the same and deregulate farming in their own countries. They will try to push out small farmers and bring in large-scale industrial farming companies.

We are witnessing a corporate land grab. It may be starting in India, but it will impact the whole planet.

Risk to Small Farms International

“With… a fundamental shift in the functions of livestock, there is a significant danger that the poor are being crowded out… and global food security and safety compromised.” World Bank (2001)

Large scale farming in India will create more competition for the small farmers around the world and the big companies will be able to offer cheaper prices and larger volumes that small farms cannot compete with.

Priced Out of the Market

In 2011, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) stated that food prices had been driven upwards in recent years, due to ‘longer-term economic growth in several large developing countries. These countries put upward pressure on prices for petroleum and fertiliser because of the resource-intensive nature of their economic growth and led to increased demand for meat, and hence animal feed, as diets diversified.’ The issue with this is, as the prices of fertilizer and other resources required for farming increase, the small farms cannot afford to buy them by comparison to the large-scale industrial farming companies. This, therefore, means small farms have to charge more as they have paid more for farming essentials and the large-scale farming industries are able to change less by comparison to the small farms.

Europe

Across Europe, small farms are disappearing. They struggle to compete with large multinational agro-businesses, they are under pressure from land grabbing, and they face serious challenges to secure public support, as they are often considered unviable and outdated.

Despite the consolidation processes that have been ongoing in the European farming sector for decades, small farms still make up the majority of European farms. More than two-thirds of all farms in Europe have less than 5 hectares of agricultural land, and more than half have a Standard Output of fewer than 333 euros per month before production costs are even deducted. Small farms are therefore a crucial part of the European agricultural system. Nevertheless, their numbers are declining. While in 2005 still, more than 70% of all farms in the EU-27 worked on less than 5 hectares, by 2013 this number had fallen to just over 65%.3 In Romania, to give just one example three family farms disappear every hour.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympics is Underway

Tuesday the 24th of August saw the beginning of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games where it will feature around 4,400 athletes who will compete in 539 medal events. Let’s find out a little more about the Paralympic Games…

A little bit about the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

On 7 September 2013, Tokyo was elected as the host city of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games at the 125th Session of the International Olympic Committee held in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires. The decision to award the 2020 Games to Tokyo was greeted with an outpouring of euphoria throughout Japan, and the emotion that stirred the nation at the Tokyo 1964 Games will be prevalent again some 56 years later.

The Tokyo Paralympic Games will be held from 24 August – 5 September 2021.

A total of 22 sports are scheduled for inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Badminton and Taekwondo will be making their debut at the 2020 Paralympic Games.

Tokyo’s vision for the Games

Achieving Personal Best

Through flawless preparation and execution, the Tokyo 2020 Games aim to deliver an event where every athlete can realise their best performance and achieve their personal best.

The world’s best technologies will be adopted in developing competition venues and in operating the Games.

All Japanese citizens, including Olympic and Paralympic volunteers, will employ their utmost resourcefulness as hosts to welcome visitors from around the world with the best Japanese omotenashi, or hospitality.

Unity in Diversity

Accepting and respecting differences in race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth, level of ability, or other status allows peace to be maintained and society to continue to develop and flourish.

The Tokyo 2020 Games will foster a welcoming environment and raise awareness of unity in diversity among citizens of the world.

Connecting to Tomorrow

The Tokyo 1964 Games completely transformed Japan, enhanced Japanese people’s awareness of the outside world, and helped bring about the rapid growth of Japan’s economy.

The 2020 Games will enable Japan, now a mature economy, to promote future changes throughout the world, and leave a positive legacy for future generations.

Just some of the incredible Athletes…

Hamadtou inspired fans watching on (Picture: NurPhoto via Getty)

Ibrahim Hamadtou, Eygiptian, Table tennis

After losing both his arms in an accident at age 10 the 48-year-old made his Paralympics debut at 43 and he provides stiff competition for those he faces.

However, he was beaten by Park in straight sets, losing 11-6 11-4 11-9.

Park, a gold medallist at the 2014 Asian Para Games, suffered cervical spine damage that impaired his upper and lower body movement in an industrial accident in 2005.

Hamadtou could have played football but decided to take table tennis further, ‘It was logical to play soccer first due to my case, then I played table tennis as a challenge.

Superlatives flowed, with social media users describing themselves as ‘speechless’ and calling his ability ‘unbelievable’.

In an interview with CNN in 2014, Hamadtou explained how he started playing ping pong.

‘In our village, we could only play, at that time, table tennis and soccer – that’s why I played both,’ he said.

Sakina Khatun, India, Powerlifting

It is easy to quote inspirational stuff than to actually do it, but this 32-year-old para-athlete Sakina Khatun is the living example of ‘nothing is impossible’. Indian powerlifter Sakina Khatun’s physical disability was not strong enough to break her willpower.

Sakina Khatun, an Indian powerlifter was born in Bangalore, Karnataka on June 20, 1989. Sakina Khatun’s father worked as a marginal farmer and her family faced many financial problems. Despite all of this, Sakina survived Polio as a child and she had to undergo four surgeries to survive the deadly disease. From a very young age, Khatun was passionate about sports and this passion pushed her to do something extraordinary.

Sakina Khatun becomes India’s first female powerlifter to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympics, within which she finished 5th in the final on Friday 27th August.

India’s Sakina Khatun made the country proud by winning a silver in the Para Powerlifting World Cup in Dubai in the up to 45kg category with a lift of 80kg. Sakina Khatun is the only female para-athlete in Indian history to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games.

Zahra Nemati, Iran, Archery

Zahra Nemati is arguably the most popular and successful female Paralympian to come from Iran.

She secured Iran a qualification slot for the Rio 2016 Paralympics as well as Olympics following her performance at the 2015 Asian Archery Championships in Bangkok, Thailand.

The last archer to compete in both Games in the same year was Italy’s Paola Fantato at Atlanta in 1996. But not only did she compete at the Olympics, but she also carried the Iranian flag during the Opening Ceremony, further raising awareness of the Paralympic Movement.

Zahra Nemati is a history maker and a trailblasing woman. She became the first Iranian athlete in either the Olympic or Paralympic Games to win a gold medal when she took to the top of the podium in 2012 in the archery event. In Tokyo 2020, she is competing to win her third consecutive Paralympic gold medal. Before taking up archery, she competed in taekwondo before a car accident in 2004 left her with paralysis in her legs.

Ali Jawad, Great Britain, Powerlifter

Ali Jawad is a British powerlifter who competes in the -59kg class. Originally born in Lebanon, Ali’s talent for powerlifting was discovered back in 2005 when he was just 16 years old.

On the eve of his Paralympic debut in Beijing, Ali fell ill. He still competed, finishing ninth, but he was later diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

After finishing fourth at the London 2012 Paralympics and narrowly missing out on a medal, Ali continued to work hard and was rewarded with his first gold medal and world record at the Asian Open Championships in Kuala Lumpur, followed by another gold and world record at the 2014 IPC World Championships in Dubai, lifting 190kg.

So how do the athletes qualify?

The final medal event programme and athlete quotas were approved by the IPC Governing Board on 4 September 2017 following the conclusion of a 10-month-long consultation exercise with international federations. Key highlights include:

• At least 1,756 slots for female athletes, the most ever, which represents a 17 percent increase in the number of women that took part in London 2012. This number is likely to increase further due to the allocation of 294 gender-free slots.

• Badminton and taekwondo, the two sports that will make their Paralympic debut in Tokyo, have been awarded 14 and 6 medal events respectively

• Canoe, which made its Paralympic debut at Rio 2016 with six medal events, will have nine medal events due to the inclusion of three va’a class events

• As part of the IPC’s drive to increase opportunities for athletes with high support needs, the sport of boccia has been allocated 116 athlete slots, 8 more than Rio 2016

• Compared to Rio 2016 14 sports will feature the same number of athletes. The sports of boccia, canoe, judo, shooting, table tennis, triathlon, and wheelchair fencing all have additional slots

• Four sports – canoe, shooting, table tennis, and wheelchair fencing – have more medal events than Rio 2016 while athletics and swimming have fewer events.

Changes to your Wardrobe that will Save Our Planet

The production of fashion accounts for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. Clothing is a big part of our daily lives, however, in retrospect, it is an even bigger part of the climate emergency happening right now.

For you to make an individual change might not seem like it will have much of an effect, but by doing your bit, you will help achieve a positive result for the environment. Join us in this blog looking at some of the ways we can make that positive impact!

1.    BUY LESS

Even the greenest garment uses resources for production and transport to your home, creating some environmental impact.

The root of the problem lies in our excessive consumerism: we buy 10 while our grandmothers bought 2.

We tend to think that buying new clothes will make us happy. Maybe we should reconsider some foundations of our lifestyle. 

2.     BUY CLOTHES FROM SUSTAINABLE BRANDS

More and more fashion brands take into account the environmental and social impact of their production.

You can find our favorite sustainable brands in the section The Brands We Like.

We will not lie to you: the offer is still limited and it is easier and cheaper to go to the closest shopping center to refill your wardrobe. But the more we demand sustainable clothing, the more will be available- just like organic food was difficult to find 15 years ago. Today, it is available in most supermarkets.

Pricewise, yes, you will pay more for sustainable clothing than in a fast fashion shop, but now we know what lies behind those very low prices…

Nonetheless, sustainable brands will not necessarily cost more than brand-name clothing, for which we sometimes pay high prices for the image, but rarely for the quality or the sustainability.

3.     BUY BETTER QUALITY

Because clothes have become so cheap, we no longer care as much about quality. We just buy new garments when the ones we have lost their shape or appeal.

Additionally, we have all had the experience of buying expensive clothing or a pair of shoes and facing disappointment when two months later, they already look old or have holes in them.

If we stop buying poor quality, it will push brands to improve the quality of their garments. It will also allow us to keep our clothes longer, which is good for our wallets and for the environment.

4.     THINK TWICE BEFORE THROWING OUT YOUR CLOTHES

Don’t throw your clothes in the normal bins! Most of them consist of synthetic, non-biodegradable fiber and will just pile up in the landfill. There are other options:

– Try to repair them. Sometimes with a bit of imagination, you can repair or even redesign a torn garment.

– Donate your clothes to your friends, family, neighbors, or to charity.

– Sell them on second-hand apps like Vinted.

– Some clothes shops take back used clothes from their own brand or even from other brands.

– Put them in the textile recycling bin. Textiles can be recycled to make new clothing.

5.       BUY SECOND HAND, SWAP, & RENT CLOTHING

Instead of buying new clothing, have a look at alternative options:

– Second-hand shop: It’s not a new concept! You can find second-hand shops everywhere in the world. Many websites and apps also offer all kinds of second-hand options ranging from the cheapest to brand-name clothes.

– Swap clothes: These types of initiatives are popping up all over the world. Participants bring clothes that are no longer wear and exchange them for clothes they will use. This is an economic and eco-friendly way to refill your wardrobe. You can also organize it with your friends. 

Read more about “How to organize a clothes swap

– Rent clothes: Clothes rentals are also a growing industry. This is a great option, especially for clothes that you will not wear for a long time or often (baby or pregnancy clothes, party dresses…). Some companies also offer a monthly fee, allowing customers to constantly renew their wardrobe.

The organization of secondhand, swapping, and renting clothes usually takes place on a local level. Find out what is available in your neighborhood.

6.     KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR WASHING

Washing our clothes has a significant environmental impact. The average household does almost 400 loads of laundry every year, consuming about 60,000 liters of water. It also takes a lot of energy to heat the washing water and run the drying cycle. So here are some tips for reducing this impact.

Surprising changes to make to help Save Our Planet!

Since the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared a “code red for humanity” in a report released Monday, we got a glimpse of the world’s future and it is natural to feel overwhelmed and helpless.

Below we have put together a list of things you can change in your life to ensure you are taking the right steps in helping our planet rather than contributing the the damage. As most of us are prioritising food-waste reduction, eliminating single-use plastics and turning away from fast fashion it is clear we want to help save the planet. it is reassuring to know that the simple lifestyle changes with the biggest positive impact are things like changing to a 100 per cent renewable energy provider or switching to an ethical financial provider.

  1. Change who you Bank with!

the Independent reports- “By moving your money and investments you really can make a difference in the world. Switching banks is one of the most powerful environmental changes you can make as an individual,” says Triodos Bank UK CEO Bevis Watts. “You can have impact by aligning your money with your values and can choose to prevent your money from financing arms, pesticides, plastic packaging or fossil fuels.”

One NGO that tracks the involvement of banks in financing business activities with a negative impact on people and planet, BankTrack, has calculated that the top five UK banks have poured approximately £150bn into financing fossil fuels since the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted in 2016.

It’s Banking on Climate Change report, released last month, suggested that included £45bn for the expansion of fossil fuels, including £13bn invested in fracking.

Barclays is the largest fossil-fuel supporter, investing more than £98bn since 2016, and outpacing other European banks’ by a 36 per cent margin.

2. Know your Land

We need to know what grows naturally on our land so that we reduce what food we are buying from different countries and reducing the carbon- footprint of our dinner.

Food production is a major driver of wildlife extinction. What we eat contributes around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible for almost 60% of global biodiversity loss.

Farming animals for meat and dairy requires space and huge inputs of water and feed. Today, one of the biggest causes of forest loss is the expansion of agricultural land for animal feed production, such as soy. And producing meat creates vastly more carbon dioxide than plants such as vegetables, grains and legumes. 

Moving away from a meat-dominated diet towards a more plant-based diet can lower your impact on the environment. Vegetarian and vegan foods are massively on the rise and becoming far more common in restaurants, cafes and supermarkets, so you’ll rarely struggle. 

Not only that, but cutting down on meat and dairy products can reduce your weekly food bills. 

3. Reduce your Junk Mail

LONDON, United Kingdom – JULY 25: Sample of junk mail items delivered to a private residence in England as advertising for local retail businesses and services

Let’s face it, we all hate junk mail. Not only because it’s annoying to have and then have to get rid of, but it’s also really wasteful. Junk mail often consists of paper and plastic and often gets thrown straight into the bin. According to Stop Junk Mail, the average household gets 453 pieces of junk mail per year – that’s a lot of waste. By stopping some of that junk mail, you can drastically reduce the amount of waste that you are creating. Try contacting the companies who are sending it to you and asking them to remove you from their lists. You can also return the post to sender or join a Mail Preference Service.

4. Get a Septic Tank

Let’s start of talking about our own body’s waste. There’s not much that we can do about reducing that. But we can change what we do with it. A septic tank is a sewage solution for houses that aren’t attached to the general waste system. Instead of being able to send waste away through the plumbing system, it is kept in a septic tank. Commercial waste plants often use chemicals which aren’t good for the environment to treat sewage. A septic tank will allow the waste to break down naturally without the use of nasty chemicals, meaning that your personal waste isn’t going to damage the environment.

5. Get Re-Usable Straws

There has been a lot of publicity around the use of plastic straws recently. Whilst many people have simply cut out the use of straws altogether, there are some cases when using a straw is just better. One solution is to get a re-usable straw, made from an environmentally friendly material such as bamboo or metal, meaning that the plastic waste in cut down.

6. Use Bars not Bottles

When it comes to keeping ourselves clean, quite often environmental concerns go a little bit out of the window. Shampoos, conditioners, shower gels etc. often come in plastic bottles and often use chemicals which aren’t good for the environment You can cut down on your plastic waste by using more natural, environmentally friend shampoo, conditioner and soap bars to keep yourself clean and smelling lovely.

7. Change your Lighter for Matches

Disposable plastic lighters are often filled with butane, meaning that none of it is healthy for the world. It might seem more convenient to carry a lighter around, but the world will thank you more for using wooden or recycled paper matches.

8. Paperless

Whether it is bank statements or electricity bills, we still get a lot of our correspondence by paper post. For a lot of people this gets shoved into a pile and never looked at again once they are dealt with. Most banks and utility companies now offer digital bills and statements, meaning that firstly you can have a more organised set of bills and statements (with access at the touch of a button and not having to rifle through piles of paper) and of course, you will have less physical waste.

9. Use a Revolving Door

When you are going into a building, use the revolving door option if you can. Revolving doors are designed to keep as much warmth inside the building as possible. So, unlike a ‘normal’ open and close door, using a revolving door means that less energy will be used up in keeping the building warm.

10. Get Cold- Water Detergent

Washing our clothes these days doesn’t mean that you need the water to be warm anymore. If you buy a cold-water detergent, you can wash you clothes without spending the extra energy (or money) heating up your water.

The Tokyo Olympics Beyond the Medals

One year late, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was finally given the green light to start at the beginning of July. However, the Tokyo Olympics has been very different to any other Olympics and that’s not just because of COVID-19.

We have seen gold medal winning plays by many women trying to change the tone of the Olympics and women in sports from the Norwegian Beach Handball Team to Gymnast phenomenon, Simone Biles changing gymnastics.

Putting an end to objectification: Norwegian Beach Handball Team

Sky sport reports on how Norway’s beach handball team were fined £1,300 for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms at a European Championship match. The women were fined the equivalent of £130 (150 euros) each for the outfits they chose for their game against Spain in Bulgaria.

European Handball Federation officials said it was a case of “improper clothing” that was “not according to the Athlete Uniform Regulations defined in the IHF beach handball rules of the game”.

Norwegian sports minister Abid Raja described the penalty as “completely ridiculous”, while the Norwegian Handball Federation praised the players for trying to change attitudes.

There was an immediate backlash on social media and from public figures claiming that women in sports are objectified and sexulaisted during sports.

EPA

This has also been linked to the German gymnast, Sarah Voss who chose to wore a bodysuit to take on sexulisation in the sport at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships since the, women and girls have only covered their legs in international competition for religious reasons.

Simone Biles changing gymnastics as we know it

The Guardian reports how a week ago, when Simone was trying to explain why she could not compete in the team final, she said that she felt that was competing for other people. She ended her time in Tokyo certain that, in her final routine, she had competed for herself. “To be cleared to do beam, which I didn’t think I was going to be, just meant the world to be back out there,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting to walk away with a medal. I was just doing this for me and what happens happens.”

Biles spoke in detail about what this unprecedented week has been like behind the scenes. Even though the majority of people have been supportive of her, including the athletes in the Olympic village who reduced her to tears with their kind words.

Each day a doctor from the International Gymnastics Federation would ask her a series of questions in order to clear her to compete, and she was only given the green light for the beam final. She had two sessions with Team USA sports psychologists who had helped her accept that she could not compete, which was not easy.

Simone, along with at least 265 others, fell victim to gymnast doctor, Larry Nassar who was accused of repeated sexual assaults of young athletes and the subsequent cover-up ultimately led to the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal that began in 2015. His victims included numerous Olympic and United States women’s national gymnastics team.

This trauma alongside sing the face of gymnastics and carrying injures you can only understand why Simone Biles would want to prioritise her mental health. There is no price you can put on our mental health and a medal at the Olympics is no exception.

As perfectly put by Casey Gerald, “Simone Biles, famous for what she does in the air, has shown the way by standing her ground.”

How to Live a More Sustainable Life Living in a City

It is easy to feel helpless and overwhelmed when you live in a city and try to save the environment. In an ideal world we would have loads of land and plant hundes of trees and grow all our own food. However, living in an apartment building can make that fantasy a lot harder.

Here are a few tips to live a more sustainable life living in the city.

Reduce, don’t just recycle

In the pecking order of the green movement, refuse precedes everything. If you can refuse it, you don’t need to reduce, rethink, reuse, repair, repurpose or recycle it. Once promoted as the solution to our ever-growing needs, recycling today is a crumbling industry with a single-digit success rate. “On a personal level, we can all aim to reduce our own footprint with a diet that involves less import, and by reducing consumption, reusing whenever possible, mending what is broken, and engaging in a shared economy by renting or swapping,” suggests designer activist, Céline Semaan, who founded Slow Factory, a sustainability-focussed design lab. It’s to say, shop if you must, but boycott blind consumerism—it doesn’t make the world a happier place.

Ask for alternatives

Replaced the plastic bottles at home with glass? Now do the same outdoors. At hotels, ask for a filtered water jug instead of reaching out for the plastic bottles in the minibar. And frequent flyers, carry your own toiletries. CGH Earth’s Marari Beach Resort’s no-plastic policy has prevented 1,09,528 plastic bottles and 36,250 straws from annually polluting the earth. Others like ITC Hotels follow suit, as they are driven to eliminate over 150 categories of single-use plastics (toiletries, water bottles and so on) that most hotels use in their day-to-day functioning. “The world is changing, and we must steer that change in a positive direction. From January 2020 onwards, ITC Hotels will be replacing all plastic bottles with glass bottles in the rooms, restaurants and at the back end,” says Nakul Anand, executive director at ITC Ltd, about their Sunya Aqua programme.

Build your plastic-free arsenal

Even before straws became the 21st century manifestation of evil, lawyer-turned-environment champion Afroz Shah had formed a handy kit to eliminate single-use plastic. Travel with a bag (I keep the IKEA Frakta in the boot), for any unplanned shopping that comes your way, and fill it with a glass or steel strawcoffee mugcutlery, and water bottle, just like Shah, a UN Environment’s Champion of the Earth and one of CNN’s Heroes of 2019.

Save a tree

Even if you’re militant about your plastic usage, depending on paper isn’t the way to go. Tissues and used paper towels cannot be recycled the way printed paper can. At home, switch to reusable cloth or bamboo towels instead of disposable cleaning wipes. At hotels, use reusable towels and hand dryers over paper. In office, print pages on both sides with a single-space setting.

Offset your travel footprint

Nothing is guilt-free anymore, not even a holiday. Travel, one of the fastest growing sectors in India (we are among the top five nations with the largest travel carbon footprint), is also a rising pollutant. To balance the damage your flight does to the planet, pick a direct flight (planes burn the most fuel during take-off ) or sign up for a carbon offset programme with your airline that will financially support green projects, or companies like Climate Care, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by investing in pollution-reduction technologies.

Incorporate green meals

If Leonardo DiCaprio couldn’t change you, should we even try? Raising livestock produces more greenhouse gas each year than every car, ship, plane and train combined, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. Switch to a plant-based diet, at least for a few days a week, if not altogether. Need more inspiration? This month, the fanciest gathering of people—first at the Golden Globes and now the Critics’ Choice awards—came together for a meat and dairy-free dinner. Eating healthy is easy. As the author activist Michael Pollan puts it, “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”

Recycle old gadgets

If Alexa wakes you up, G Suite works with you through the day and Siri puts you to sleep, you are using way too many devices. But in this digital age, when repairing doesn’t resurrect and your trusted electronics die, make sure you dispose of them responsibly. Management experts warn against dumping them all in your garbage— after all, electronics comprise a laundry list of toxic metals. According to the Global E-Waste Monitor 2017, India generated over 20 lakh tonnes of e-waste (a number that will grow by 500 per cent by this year) and recycled only five per cent of it. Look up your local e-waste drop-off points or contact electronic stores like Croma, which feature drop-off e-waste kiosks at every outlet across India, and even offer a pick-up service for the same.

Attend a clothes swap

On average, an item of clothing is worn seven times before it hits a landfill. Aimed at creating mindful consumption, clothes swapping initiatives like The Exchange Room (Bengaluru), This For That (Delhi) and Swap at Sadhana Dell ’Arte (Goa) are attempting to slow down the fast fashion cycle by giving them a longer life. If shopping is your serotonin, you may not go shop-free for a year like the viral Extinction Rebellion campaign urges people to, but skip the mall this year in favour of a pre-loved item. It’s easier on the pockets and the planet. “We started in 2014 with just 10 swappers and now have a community of over 2,000 like-minded women,” says Prithvi Rao of Exchange Room, whose last event sold 1,200 pre-loved items in just four hours.

Use less energy

As children, we were taught to turn the light off every time we left a room. Bring back these lessons into your adult life. Unplug electronic appliances when not in use. Switch to compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs), which use 75 per cent less energy and last 10 times longer. Invest in smart gadgets like the Powerslayer USB wall charger by Velvetwire, which protects a device from overcharging, overheating and wasting energy. Wash clothes in cold water—it uses 90 per cent less power. And sometimes, skip the gym for outdoor workouts. For bathrooms, devices like the Altered: Tap Nozzle are good investments, designed to reduce the use of water and energy with 85-98 per cent.

Try a green period

On average, a woman uses over 10,000 tampons or sanitary pads during her lifetime. In India, we dispose of over 43.2 crore pads every year, creating 9,000 tonnes of waste. While alternatives exist—environmentally friendly brands like Carmesi and Heyday, reusable zero-chemical pads by Rebelle and EcoFemme—it’s the menstrual mindset that needs a reboot. The next time you wrinkle your nose at a menstrual cup—the rinse-and-reuse silicone cup that lasts up to 10 years—consider that if your great-great-great-great grandmother had used a sanitary napkin 500 years ago, that plastic would still be here!

Don’t get greenwashed

The downside of sustainability becoming a buzzword is that everyone wants a piece of the green pie. Even as fast fashion, the billion-dollar empire fuelled by rampant consumerism, continues to eat up our planet, unscrupulous conglomerates ‘greenwash’ buyers with unsubstantiated marketing tactics and claims of being environmentally friendly. As Hasan Minhaj says in Patriot Act, it’s time we call the bluff. If your T-shirt company tells you it’s good for the environment without comprehensive data, dig deeper. “The problem with the fashion industry’s solution to turning plastic bottles into thread, and later, a fleece or a polyester item, is that once washed, these items release microplastics. So we are taking a visible plastic bottle and returning it into the ocean as invisible particles,” points out Semaan of Slow Factory.

Travel with a Smaller Carbon Footprint

The news is flooded with images from all over the globe of natural disasters that happened due to climate change. It is easy to feel helpless and feel as though you as a single person on the planet of 8billion people can feel small changes they make will make no difference.

We have spoken with Extinction Rebellion and Friends of the earth and made a list of the thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and save our home.

We will release a list every week on different aspects of your life you can alter to make sure you are being more environmentally friendly.

While countries around the world start to reopen in the next few months, we should educate ourselves better on how to travel more mindfully. We cannot go back to ‘normal’ as normal is killing our planet. We need to have a new approach to travel as we emerge from this pandemic

  1. Take the slower route– avoid flying if it is possible- while flying is a lot more attractive and is quicker it is the worst way to travel for the environment. If we start to take trains and buses, we will make a massive positive difference to the climate.

2. If you do have to get a plane then be as wasteless as possible– Airline passengers generate over 5.7 million tonnes of cabin waste per year, says the International Air Transport Association – so how can we put a dent in that? Carbon offsetting isn’t enough. Say no to the plastic-wrapped blankets and headphones provided on flights (bring your own instead) and ask the crew to fill up your water bottle instead of using disposable cups.

3. Bring your own water bottle– Investing in a reusable water bottle is an easy first step to avoiding single-use plastic: look to Camelbak or Nalgene for lightweight and durable BPA-free bottles. If water quality is a worry in your destination, try a self-filtering Water-to-Go bottle. Its in-built filters remove 99.9% of microbiological contaminants, so you can fill them up from any non-saltwater source.

4. Be a litter picker– Next time you’re hiking or biking, do some litter picking as you go. It’s an easy way to do your bit and helps to spread awareness in destinations that aren’t so hot on environmental issues.

5. Turn the lights off– ever noticed when you enter a hotel room and find the lights blazing, the ceiling fan whirling, and even – for some unfathomable reason – the television playing to itself. It’s time to have a quiet word with the hotel manager about housekeeping’s aversion to off switches. They might not notice one complaint, but perhaps the message will get through if we all say something.

6. Make ethical food choices– Make a beeline for family-owned restaurants, and always opt for locally sourced dishes rather than imported fare: the fewer food miles the better. But beware of some delicacies.

7. Let your money do the talking when you book tour guides– Before you book your trip, quiz your tour operator. What’s its stance on environmental issues such as single-use plastic and carbon offsetting? Does it support any charities – and how does it ensure any wildlife experiences are sustainable? 

8. If you are staying in a hotel do you really need fresh bedding and a towel every day? Maybe, writing ‘don’t replace!’ sticky notes, or even bringing your own. 

9. Buy sustainable souvenirs– Think twice before buying that seashell trinket or those feather earrings. You might surmise the environmental damage has already been done, but buying the product is simply encouraging the vendor to source more

10. Bring biodegradable shower wash– Your shower run-off could be discarded into water sources or used to irrigate crops – with those chemically derived suds tainting the environment and aquatic food chain. 

11. Stop flushing toilet paper– if the WC asks you not to flush the toilet, listen to it. When nature calls, do your business responsibly. If you’re staying in a hotel or homestay where the plumbing can’t cope with toilet paper, always put it in the bin provided: one reckless flush could wreck the entire sewage system.

Stay tuned next week for our take on how to reduce your carbon footprint and save the planet while living in a city.

The World Celebrates Pride

LGBT+ Pride Month Honors the Stonewall Riots of June 1969

The month honors the Stonewall Uprising of June 1969, one of the turning points for gay rights in the United States. The Stonewall riots came in the wake of a violent police raid on a Manhattan gay club called the Stonewall Inn; protesting and clashes lasted for several days after the raid.

A year later – on the anniversary of the Uprising – thousands marched for gay rights in the first New York City Pride March. Over the years, events and commemorations spread to cover the entire month of June, with President Clinton issuing the first “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month” proclamation in 1999.

Celebrating LGBT+ Pride Around the World: Things to Know

Celebrating LGBT+ Pride Around the World: Things to Know

In the United States, June is LGBT+ Pride Month. LGBT+ Pride Month’s goal is to “recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.”

With that in mind – and along with Aperian Global’s mission to promote diversity and inclusion and building business across boundaries – we’d like to share with you some things you should know about LGBT+ Pride Month in the United States and other commemorations around the world.

LGBT+ Pride Month Honors the Stonewall Riots of June 1969

The month honors the Stonewall Uprising of June 1969, one of the turning points for gay rights in the United States. The Stonewall riots came in the wake of a violent police raid on a Manhattan gay club called the Stonewall Inn; protesting and clashes lasted for several days after the raid.

A year later – on the anniversary of the Uprising – thousands marched for gay rights in the first New York City Pride March. Over the years, events and commemorations spread to cover the entire month of June, with President Clinton issuing the first “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month” proclamation in 1999.

LGBT+ Pride Month is Different Than LGBT+ History Month (in October)

LGBT+ History Month differs from LGBT+ Pride Month. Celebrated in October (along with National Coming Out Day on October 11th), “LGBT+ History Month provides role models, builds community and makes the civil rights statement about our extraordinary national and international contributions.”

Pride Month Features Large Parades and Other Events

The month features a variety of events – everything from parties and concerts to workshops and learning opportunities. Large city parades, though, are generally the most visible elements of LGBT+ Pride Month.

Japan

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade will take place from April 27 to May 6. The festival’s first iteration drew in only 1,000 marchers, but in 2019 saw 52 groups register to take part in the parade and record-setting attendance was expected. The family-friendly festival is of the utmost importance to the country’s queer community, which is still fighting an uphill legal battle to be granted the same rights given to heterosexual couples.

France

On June 29, Paris will hold its 41st annual Marche des Fiertés LGBT. Organized by hundreds of volunteers, the parade is expected to last over four hours, traveling from the Place de la Concorde to the Place de la République. Second only to New York and Brazil in the size of its queer community and Pride parade, the Marche des Fiertés LGBT will be one of the biggest Pride Month events in the world.

Thailand

1999 saw Phuket, Thailand’s first Pride Week. The event has grown significantly over the last 10 years, and 2019’s Phuket Pride festival is poised to be among the biggest yet. Most of the activities will take place on Patong beach from April 27 to April 30, and will include beauty contests, beach volleyball tournaments, and cabaret shows.

Korea

On June 1, 2019, some 70,000 South Koreans, including Democratic Party leaders, wound through downtown Seoul for the 20th annual gay rights march. While gay and other LGBTQ+ identities aren’t illegal in South Korea, there are no laws against discrimination, which means that many individuals find their fundamental human rights challenged regularly. The organizers have typically kept the event’s date a secret until the last minute to keep the strong opposition of anti-gay activists at bay.

India

India’s 2019 Pride Parade in Mumbai was of particular significance as it was the first march since the Supreme Court decriminalized same-sex relations near the end of last year. Mirror Now reported that hundreds of people showed up to march and celebrate the February event and that the turnout was larger than in previous years.

Israel

Another deeply religious country, Israel’s Pride celebrations, while joyous, tend to face a lot of opposition. The Times of Israel reported that far-right extremists vowed to protest and disrupt the Jerusalem Pride Parade, and Tel Aviv’s parade also faces similar threats. Even still, organizers planned massive parades and beach parties to be held in each city on June 6 and June 14.

India’s Heroes

“We’ve had to grow up a lot in one month… as fresh interns we’ve been thrown into a crisis-like situation.”

Junior Doctors Thrown in the Deep End

It’s often said that jumping in at the deep end is the best way to start a new job. And as Covid cripples India’s healthcare system, it’s sink or swim for junior doctors fresh out of university.

On 26 February, 22-year-old Dr Pankti Pandya had just finished her final year of undergraduate study in her home state of Gujarat, on India’s west coast. There were 424 Covid cases that day in Gujarat. That daily number had risen to 1,580 by 22 March, when Pankti started her internship – the final phase of medical training before officially graduating – at Shree Krishna Hospital, in the district of Anand. And by the time she had finished her first month of work, Gujarat’s daily cases had soared to more than 12,500.

Instead of spending the year doing placements in lots of different areas of medicine, this year’s interns are needed on the Covid front line.

Pankti and her peers have been put on a constantly changing shift pattern that includes periods of seven consecutive days of 12-hour shifts – night or day – on a Covid ward.

“We’ve been thrown into that field, into the thick of things,” she says.

Pankti describes one shift where she had to look after about 60 patients with only two more doctors – also junior – on shift.

They were on a non-critical Covid ward, where patients are considered “stable” – which means fewer doctors get allocated per ward.

“We could feel the shortage of workforce,” Pankti says.

She says it can feel “very scary” to work in critical care units when there are so many patients that “there’s no way that you can look after all of them”.

Deciding how to prioritise patients and seeing lots of people die are things doctors usually take years to learn to manage, Pankti says.

But in the face of the pandemic, the interns “have grown up really fast”.

“A lot of my friends have had to deal with death at a very early time in their internship, almost on their first day or first night – which is always something which affects you a lot when you are first training.”

That’s a feeling shared by Dr Simran Agrawal, 24, who began her internship at Nair Hospital in Mumbai in March 2020.

“It was difficult for us to cater to the mental health needs of our patients when we ourselves were physically and mentally drained and burnt out,” 

India’s covid surge has killed more than 500 doctors and sickened hundreds of others since March, stretching staffs thin

The dead include an orthopaedic surgeon in his 60s and an obstetrician in his 20s. They include community doctors who examined patients with their first symptoms, and specialists who worked around-the-clock in covid-19 hospital wards, trying to save gravely ill victims.

Across India, hundreds of doctors have died in the new wave of coronavirus infections that has ravaged the country. The Indian Medical Association this week confirmed the covid-related deaths of 515 physicians since March, publishing their names and pictures. The group previously reported that 748 doctors had died because of the virus in 2020.

Hundreds more doctors, nurses and other health workers have become infected and temporarily unable to work since the surge struck in April, creating havoc and exhaustion for overstretched hospital staffs across the country.

“When we required double the manpower, our manpower was cut in half,” said Mayur Rathod, a doctor managing covid treatment at Saroj Hospital in the capital. During the first weeks of the surge, he said, “cases were rising fast and patients were more critical.” He said nearly all 100 doctors and 180 nurses there had been vaccinated, yet many fell sick. “It was a very hard time.”

Other hospitals were similarly overwhelmed by the surge after a long winter lull. At the All-India Institute of Medical Science, director Randeep Guleria said patient admissions in April suddenly tripled to nearly 900. “At one point, we had 100 patients lying on the floor waiting for an emergency bed,” he said.

India has recorded 1.3 million new cases in the past week, and even as daily cases have dropped since mid-May, reported deaths still hover near 4,000 per day, a figure that is an undercount.

During the worst of the surge, as hospitals scrambled to find sufficient oxygen supplies and beds, families frantically searched for them, too. Many spent hours on the Internet, tracking tips about available oxygen cylinders. Others ferried sick relatives from one hospital to another, hoping to find a bed.

Even now, staff shortages have left hospitals struggling to fill shifts, keep operations going and maintain staff morale. Some managers have assigned doctors to covid duty who are nearing retirement age; others have asked medical schools to release more postgraduate students for hospital work.

“It’s like a war, with a first and second line of defense,” said Ajay Swaroop, who chairs the ear, nose and throat department at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi. “Before, we said strictly that no one above 60 or with comorbidities will be put on covid duty, but once junior doctors started getting infected, even senior people were drafted.”

Retired Doctors Around the Globe

Around the globe in the past 16 months, we have seen retired doctors make a return to help their colleagues during the pandemic.

When the pandemic hit Britain, authorities in Britain put out a plea for 250,000 volunteers to help the health service transport patients, deliver medicine, and stay in contact with the most vulnerable in society. They said within days the number of volunteers had reached 750,000. The United Kingdom’s Health Secretary, Matt Handcock claimed he was “Delighted that 4,000 nurses and 500 doctors have signed up to return to the NHS in the first 48 hours of our call”

From the United States to Vietnam and across Europe, overrun health services helped retirees reactivate licenses, fast tracked student doctors and nurses and looked for help wherever they could find it.

In Spain, which was hit extremely hard at the beginning of the pandemic, officials called upon all retired medical professionals under the age of 70, who were still able to work, to join the effort. For 63-year-old Loles Andolz, returning to the Barcelona hospital she retired from earlier this year means living apart from her husband, who is over 70, and mother, who recently went blind and must live in isolation to avoid infection.

“My grandmother is having a hard time with her daughter’s decision, she cries all day long and wonders why she has to go volunteer instead of younger people,” Andolz’s daughter, Sonia, told Reuters.

“My mother says that she feels like she is going to war and abandoning her family, although she does it gladly.”