“What you have learned from experience is worth much more than gold. If you have a house it may burn down. Any kind of possession can be lost, but your experience is yours forever. Keep it and find a way to use it.”—Somaly Mam
The 34-year-old Cambodian leads the AFESIP association, which rescues girls and young women from brothels in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. She is separated from her husband and lives near Phnom Penh with her children: Melissa, 14, Adana, 9, and Nicolai, 3
Interview: John Follain
I go first to our shelter where the girls we’ve rescued live. They can be hard to manage — they want to break everything — but I take them in my arms and we understand each other. In Cambodia, parents sell their children when they’re five or six for as little as £60. Girls prostitute themselves for less than £1.
It’s what I’ve been through that gives me the strength to fight back. I don’t know who my parents are. As a child I remember being cold all the time. I was abandoned and raped when I was 12. Two years later I was sold off and forced to marry. My husband would get drunk, he beat me and raped me, he’d fire bullets which passed just by my head or my feet. I took the gun and shot him in the foot. I was 15. I didn’t want to kill him, just hurt him as he had hurt me. I’m more of a Buddhist now, and I try to be reasonable. But when I see rapists I see red. I’m not perfect.
My husband sold me to a brothel. I had to accept five or six clients a day. Once a client called me and another girl; he said he was with just one other man. In fact, there were 20 of them; they treated us so badly I wanted revenge. I wanted to kill the man who called us. Then I thought his family would suffer, so I left him alone.
People laugh about prostitution being the oldest job in the world, but I’ve seen so many awful things. Girls are chained up and beaten with electric cables; one had a nail driven into her skull for trying to escape. Another, Thomdi, was sold to a brothel when she was nine. When I saw her in the street she was 17 and sick with Aids and TB. She had lots of abscesses and the people at the hospital insulted her and refused to take her in. So I took her home and washed her. She started to get better. Then I had to go abroad. She told me she would die without me, but I had to go. I was buying presents for her when I got the call that she had died. I still feel guilty about her death.
Around mid-morning I go to the offices. I’m back on the computer and I check on the girls’ health, and how they are doing at their jobs. The association has a staff of 134, including doctors, psychologists and teachers. Since we set it up eight years ago, we’ve saved over 3,000 girls and found them normal work.
Our job is dangerous. Once this man who ran a brothel put a gun to my temple; he was angry that I’d talked to his girls. He told me I was a bitch, that he was going to kill me. I talked to him — I knew he wouldn’t kill me. People with a gun kill you or they don’t — they don’t pretend. After, I got him arrested. I don’t have bodyguards — I want to be free.
For me, meeting a politician or a donor is much worse than having a gun pointed at me. I didn’t go to school, I don’t find it easy to talk and behave properly with a bureaucrat. I have to say the truth, which hurts, but if you don’t tell the truth, nothing changes.
I’m usually too busy to have lunch, but if I eat something it’ll be boiled white rice and fried vegetables. Around 2pm, we hold meetings, we talk about the girls who are ill or have difficulty finding a place in society. And there are always e-mails — I get 200 to 300 a day.
The hardest thing for me to cope with is corruption. I filmed a police raid on a brothel — there was cocaine there. But then in the courts the judge said it wasn’t cocaine, it was flour. We once caught a German paedophile on camera, but the courts let him off with a £4,000 fine. He went back to his country. Is that fair?
Last December we rescued 89 women and children in a police raid on a big hotel. But the pimps went to our shelter and grabbed them back. The next day they threatened to come back with grenades. I phoned everyone I could for help, but I was told I’d gone too far — I had bothered powerful people. I make a point of going to see the criminals who threaten me. I have to show them I’m not afraid by talking to them.
I get desperate at times; I tried to commit suicide two or three times. When things are overwhelming, I try to be alone somewhere dark and quiet. I can be bad company; everything makes me angry. I’m separated from my husband and I don’t think I’ll have another relationship. I’m not young any more; I don’t want to make a man unhappy.
One or two nights a week I meet girls in brothels or on the streets. I talk to them and tell them what we could do for them. But usually I go home at 7 to cook for my children. They are in bed by 10, then it’s quiet and I go back to my e-mails.
I can be at the computer until 2am.
I don’t sleep well. Especially when I have to meet journalists and they ask me about my past. When I close my eyes I feel raped and dirty. I’m very weak. At night when I don’t sleep, I think that right at that moment many children are being raped. The pills I used to take don’t work any more. But I can get by with two or three hours’ sleep. I don’t know what being happy means. But I like seeing the girls smile. That makes me feel good.”
The Road to Innocence, by Somaly Mam, will be published by Virago next year. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
PORT-AU-PRINCE — Cendra Guillaume walks into the dusty depot of manly machines, passes fellow female workers, and steps into the front office with a familiar look of determination.
Not one to sit around and wait, the wife, mother and heavy equipment operator gets right to the point: “Where to today?”
In the months since the Haiti earthquake claimed an estimated 300,000 lives, women like Guillaume have been on the front lines of paving the way for this broken nation’s reconstruction.
Theirs are the anonymous hands that steered the dead and dying to unmarked graves in black and white government dump trucks, tunneled through the rubble for foreign rescue teams and cleared debris from hundreds of blocked roads.
In the process, they are challenging the notion of a woman’s traditional role in this machismo society, and restoring what many thought they had lost in the rubble: faith in the future.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” said Guérino Noël, 44, a father of two daughters who ekes out a living scavenging ruins for copper wire, as he watched Guillaume deftly maneuver her giant yellow excavator.
“As a Haitian male, I was personally offended the first time I saw a woman driving one of those trucks,” he said. “But when you are living in such a deplorable situation, where even eating is difficult, and you see a woman sitting behind the wheels of one of those trucks, it means something in the country is still working.”
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”—
MBABANE – Women and the Law in Southern Africa (WLSA), the Swaziland Chapter, yesterday morning held a workshop where they taught media stakeholders about the importance of the media in the struggle against HIV/AIDS.
Making her presentation, Zakhe Hlanze said the objective of the workshop was to share and look at social attitudes and policies that might be perpetuating the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country.
Among the issues that were looked at was the issue of cultural norms and cultural practices that perpetuate the spread of the virus. Hlanze said on a number of occasions that their main focus was rural, urban, peri-urban and company towns. She said women in those areas needed to be taught their rights when it comes to issues of sex.
"The media is playing an important role in highlighting the importance of dealing with gender-based issues that perpetuate the spread of HIV in the country. We also need to share best practices in integrating gender and HIV issues in existing policies and programmes," said Hlanze.
She said girls were often taught to behave in a different way to boys. Sex is biological; gender is the social role that the culture and community impose on individuals. Gender is how society says people should behave based on their sex.
"Patriarchy is at the centre of gender inequalities. Culturally, Swazi men are dominant partners who determine the sexual arena, when to have sex, with who, where, how and whether to have children or not, whereas women are subordinate to their male counterparts.
"Women’s subordinate role means that in the sexual arena they are acted upon and they cannot make decisions on when to have sex, with who, where, how and whether to have children or not. Women are socialised and taught the values of a good wife, who is respectful and submissive to the husband in all matters and has the ability to please and satisfy the sexual needs of her partner or husband."
The lack of control over the sexual arena basically means that women have less power in avoiding HIV infection as they do not have control over what happens in that arena. She said if Swazi women do not have control over the sexual arena then it becomes difficult to negotiate for safer sex, such as condom use in sexual relationships.
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward.”—Amelia Earhart
Africa must focus on maternal health: ex-Irish president
FREETOWN — Ex-Irish president Mary Robinson urged African leaders Wednesday to boost support for maternal health, during a visit to Sierra Leone where mortality rates are among the highest in the world.
"If the African Union succeeds in fulfilling its commitment to maternal health, it will benefit the economies of countries to have healthy populations," she said at a news conference in Freetown.
Robinson is on a two-day visit to observe implementation of a 90 million dollar (67 million euro) initiative to provide free health care for pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under-five launched in April.
"Sierra Leone has taken a major step forward in promoting maternal health as a human right not only for its own people but also globally, as a model of leadership and initiative in this critical area."
However she raised concerns about the lack of running water in one clinic she visited and a shortage of incubators in another.
According to the World Health Organisation, Sierra Leone has the world’s highest death rate among pregnant women and children.
The west African country is one of the world’s poorest nations and is still emerging from a brutal decade-long civil war that was officially declared over in February 2002 and left much of the infrastructure in ruins.
Robinson, a former UN Commissioner for Human Rights, now leads an international NGO, Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalisation Initiative.
The following excerpt is from the new work “I AM AN EMOTIONAL CREATURE: The Secret Life of Girls around the World”, which debuted in book form (Villard/Random House) on February 9.
I AM AN EMOTIONAL CREATURE
I love being a girl. I can feel what you’re feeling as you’re feeling it inside the feeling before. I am an emotional creature. Things do not come to me as intellectual theories or hard-shaped ideas. They pulse through my organs and legs and burn up my ears. I know when your girlfriend’s really pissed off even though she appears to give you what you want. I know when a storm is coming. I can feel the invisible stirrings in the air. I can tell you he won’t call back. It’s a vibe I share.
I am an emotional creature. I love that I do not take things lightly. Everything is intense to me. The way I walk in the street. The way my mother wakes me up. The way I hear bad news. The way it’s unbearable when I lose.
I am an emotional creature. I am connected to everything and everyone. I was born like that. Don’t you dare say all negative that it’s a teenage thing or it’s only only because I’m a girl. These feelings make me better. They make me ready. They make me present. They make me strong.
I am an emotional creature. There is a particular way of knowing. It’s like the older women somehow forgot. I rejoice that it’s still in my body.
I know when the coconut’s about to fall. I know that we’ve pushed the earth too far. I know my father isn’t coming back. That no one’s prepared for the fire. I know that lipstick means more than show. I know that boys feel super-insecure and so-called terrorists are made, not born. I know that one kiss can take away all my decision-making ability and sometimes, you know, it should.
This is not extreme. It’s a girl thing. What we would all be if the big door inside us flew open. Don’t tell me not to cry. To calm it down Not to be so extreme To be reasonable. I am an emotional creature. It’s how the earth got made. How the wind continues to pollinate. You don’t tell the Atlantic ocean to behave.
I am an emotional creature. Why would you want to shut me down or turn me off? I am your remaining memory. I am connecting you to your source. Nothing’s been diluted. Nothing’s leaked out. I can take you back.
I love that I can feel the inside of the feelings in you, even if it stops my life even if it hurts too much or takes me off track even if it breaks my heart. It makes me responsible. I am an emotional I am an emotional, devotional, incandotional, creature. And I love, hear me, love love love being a girl.
Eve Ensler, a playwright and activist, is the founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls. In conjunction with I AM AN EMOTIONAL CREATURE, V-Day has developed a targeted pilot program, V-Girls, to engage young women in our “empowerment philanthropy” model, providing them with a platform to amplify their voices.
She was born Maria Skłodowska in Warsaw (then in Vistula Land, Russian Empire; now in Poland) and lived there until she was twenty-four. In 1891 she followed her older sister Bronisława to study in Paris, where she obtained her higher degrees and conducted her subsequent scientific work. She founded the Curie Institutes in Paris and Warsaw. Her husband Pierre Curie shared her Nobel prize in physics. Her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie and son-in-law, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, also shared a Nobel prize.
Her achievements include the creation of a theory of radioactivity (a term she coined), techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes, and the discovery of two new elements, polonium and radium. Under her direction, the world’s first studies were conducted into the treatment of neoplasms (cancers) using radioactive isotopes.
'Little Woman' from Canada raises big funds for Afghan teachers
OTTAWA — When Alaina Podmorow was a shy nine-year-old, her mother asked if she’d like to go with her to a speech about how girls and women were treated in Afghanistan.
"At the time I thought, ‘I’m not quite sure what this is about but I get to stay up late so I think I’ll go to it,’" she says.
Four years later, having raised nearly $300,000 to help girls go to school in Afghanistan, she recalls eight words from that speech that she says she’ll never forget: “The worst thing you can do is nothing.”
The inspirational speech was given by Sally Armstrong, a Toronto-based author and human-rights champion who has chronicled the abuse of women under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and their struggle now for equality.
Poised and confident, Podmorow, 13, now gives inspirational speeches herself as the founder of the non-profit Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan, a fundraising organization that channels money for teachers’ salaries and training through Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.
"I found that it doesn’t matter how little or young you are, you can make this difference," she said in an interview during a conference on Afghanistan hosted by the Canadian Federation of University Women.
Her first fundraising effort in her home community on the outskirts of Kelowna, B.C., was aimed at raising $750, the amount she was told would pay an average salary to a teacher for a year in Afghanistan.
"We raised enough for four teachers’ salaries for one year and I was so amazed because that was more than I could have ever imagined raising at nine years old," she said.
Chapters of Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan have sprung up around the country and fundraisers have been held in many cities. The groups have raised about $160,000 from the public and almost the same amount again in matching funds from the federal Canadian International Development Agency, the foreign-aid wing of the federal government.
“If we implemented the gel in a way similar to the trial we could prevent 1.3 million new infections and 800,000 deaths in South Africa alone over the next 20 years.”—Salim Abdool Karim of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, or CAPRISA, who co-led the research with his wife, Quarraisha.
Standing ovation for HIV gel breakthrough at AIDS forum
From L-R: Research scientists from the Centre for AIDS Programme Research in South Africa, Doctors Koleka Mlisana, Leila Mansoor, Janet Frohlich and Senge Sibeko, pose following an announcement of an important breakthrough in the quest for a vaginal cream to protect women from HIV.
VIENNA (AFP) – The world AIDS forum set aside rows about politics and funding on Tuesday, as delegates cheered South African scientists who announced a breakthrough in the quest for a vaginal cream to protect women from HIV.
In a packed hall in Vienna, researchers, policymakers and activists gave three standing ovations to a presentation of trial data that some hailed as a landmark in the 29-year war on AIDS. Several hundred others watched from a spillover room. The prototype is the first microbicide gel to offer a strong degree of protection against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The South African team unveiled results, published the day before in the US journal Science, from the second phase of a three-stage trial. If confirmed, the work will open up a new front in a war that has destroyed more than 25 million lives and cast a dark shadow over 33 million people infected by HIV.
"This is good news for women, good news for the field, and a good day for science," Yasmin Halima, director of the Global Campaign for Microbicides, said.
Now, there are certainly easier paths these women could have taken. Much easier. They could have chosen to keep their heads down and their mouths shut. They could have shrunk their aspirations to fit the expectations of others -– and accepted the place reserved for them on the sidelines and in the shadows.
But instead, they decided to stand up for what they believed in and for what they hoped. They decided to say the things that no one else would say and take risks few others would endure. As a result, they’ve faced hardships that few could bear.
Sojourner Truth, born in about 1797, was a woman of remarkable intelligence despite her illiteracy. Truth had great presence. She was tall, some 5 feet 11 inches. Her voice was low, so low that listeners sometimes termed it masculine, and her singing voice was beautifully powerful. Whenever she spoke in public, she also sang. No one ever forgot the power of Sojourner Truth’s singing, just as her wit and originality of phrasing were also memorable.
Sojourner Truth: ex-slave and fiery abolitionist, figure of imposing physique, riveting preacher and spellbinding singer who dazzled listeners with her wit and originality. Straight-talking and unsentimental, Truth became a national symbol for strong black women—indeed, for all strong women.
Inspired by religion, Truth transformed herself from a domestic servant named Isabella into an itinerant pentecostal preacher; her words of empowerment have inspired black women and poor people the world over to this day.
As an abolitionist and a feminist, Truth defied the notion that slaves were male and women were white, expounding a fact that still bears repeating: among blacks there are women; among women, there are blacks.
"If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right-side up again. And now that they are asking to do it, the men better let them."
“That little man in black there say a woman can’t have as much rights as a man cause Christ wasn’t a woman. Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with him! If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down, all alone together women ought to be able to turn it rightside up again.”—
Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz was born, Juana de Asbaje, at San Miguel de Nepantla in Mexico. From childhood she showed literary ability and some of her poems are considered the product of the years prior to her entrance into the convent in 1667.
In Sor Juana’s time, the convent was the only refuge in which a female could properly attend to education of her mind, spirit, body and soul. Nonetheless, she wrote literature centered on freedom. In her poem Redondillas she defends a woman’s right to be respected as a human being.
In Hombres necios (stubborn men), she criticizes the sexism of the society of her time, poking fun at and revealing the hypocrisy of men who publicly condemn prostitutes, yet privately pay women to perform on them what they have just said is an abomination to God. Sor Juana asks the sharp question in this age-old matter of the purity/whoredom split found in base male mentality:
"Who sins more, she who sins for pay? Or he who pays for sin?"
We, the 21 delegates of the first ever G(irls)20 Summit, know that girls and women have the potential to play a pivotal role in building communities and countries and being catalysts for economic progress around the globe.
We come together in the days before the gathering of the leaders of the world’s most powerful nations at the G-8 and G-20 meetings to be the voice that reminds the leaders of the importance of eliminating barriers for girls and women everywhere, and to mobilize change-makers worldwide to add their voices to ours.
With a little help from jhr, Archibald Kasakura has excelled in human rights reporting
Two years ago, Simona Siad began her jhr internship at The Daily Times in Blantyre, Malawi. After a few months, her efforts extended beyond the newsroom to a classroom down the road at the Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ).
“The classroom was a really unique place to work with young journalists on human rights issues,” proclaims Siad. To this day, her impact resonates among MIJ students.
Archibald Kasakura, a 30-year-old diploma student at MIJ, shares the impact Siad had on his journalism skills. “Before she came onto the scene, I didn’t know how to write features,”Kasakura recalls, “Simona made me what I am today.”
When Kasakura first started writing, he relied on Siad for about 70 percent of his work. “Initially, I thought she was being so hard on me, but now I know it was part of the growing process,” he says. But these days, Kasakura works independently at producing high-quality stories on a regular basis.
Over the past couple of years, Kasakura has written nearly 40 articles. After his first article was published, the ambitious student said that he “gathered the courage to keep writing.” Focusing on human rights features, Kasakura has published stories on children’s rights (issues of forced labour and sexual abuse), the rights of prisoners living with HIV, the right to religion and free primary education, and most recently, Malawi’s development since independence in 1964.
Keen to expose human right issues, Kasakura uses his downtime between classes to freelance his articles. Writing on a nearly broken-down laptop that he borrows from his uncle, Kasakura recognizes the value of his work.
“I used to see human rights as something that doesn’t apply to Malawians, but now I see the importance of them,” he states. “[Simona] has opened my eyes.”
Yoshiko Uchida was born in Califonia. During World War II, she and her family were sent to an internment camp along with other Japanese Americans. Uchida was eventually allowed to leave the camp to study at Smith College. In 1952 she received a fellowship to go to Japan and collect folk tales. Her travels deepened her respect for her ancestors’ culture. Picture Bride portrays what many Japanese women might have experienced when they first arrived in America in the early 20th century.
"I try to stress the positive aspects of life that I want children to value and cherish. I hope they can be caring human beings who don’t think in terms of labels—foreigners or Asians or whatever—but think of people as human beings. If that comes across, then I’ve accomplished my purpose."
“Every day in Malawi, 16 pregnant women die in villages or in the hospital during childbirth. By the end of the year, 984 women out of every 100,000 giving birth will have died — but not even one of these deaths will be registered by the media as a great scandal or something to be corrected.”—Dorthy Ngoma
Dorothy Ngoma is the Executive Director of the National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi and a member of the W8, a parallel organization to the G8 featuring women community leaders from developing countries.
In Malawi, we nurses see many women and children who are living marginal lives, in places where they feel little hope, and where they are surrounded by death and disease. That is part of the reason I joined the W8, a group of powerful women who represent the world’s poor at the highest political level. We are strong women, strong leaders and strong campaigners from places like India, Thailand and Nicaragua who believe that education and health care must be accessible by all.
At the W8, we carry the voice of the poor to the G8. We are saying “keep the promise.”
Sometimes it can feel that the fight is long and the victories are few. But our success can mean the difference between life and death.
Last April we happened to be in Europe doing a number of campaigns and we heard that there were three planes of generic drugs sitting on an airport tarmac in Denmark. These drugs were bound for Africa. They were anti-malarial pills, tuberculosis drugs, medication to help stop bleeding in women during delivery. They were anti-retrovirals, which help people live with HIV.
The drugs had probably come from India or China, where they were produced cheaply and could be sold cheaply. But they had contravened some kind of patent law, and so they had decided that the planes would just sit there. The planes had been grounded for about three months.
We requested a meeting with Danish politicians. We waited and waited and made it clear that we would keep waiting. When the meeting finally happened, only five politicians came, but that was fine for us. We went to their parliament and made it very clear that they must release those planes, because our children are dying.
We gave them the statistics and I told them that 16 women would die on this day because you guys are holding these drugs. They are sitting at your airport and you don’t seem to care. We told them, we are not leaving until we are told you will do the right thing to save lives, because you are world leaders.
For two hours we were there. Eight powerful women. Eight very strong, powerful, militant women screaming to get those planes leaving.
“Hi Simona, hope you are okay. You probably you don’t remember me. I am Vanessa, I used to be your student in Malawi. I was the one whom you helped write that article in the Daily Times concerning the woman who lost her property. I just wanted to say hello and let you know that I have just finished my diploma and am about to do my research project. Thanks for being a great teacher. Hope you visit Malawi again.”—
People around the world say they firmly support equal rights for men and women, but many still believe men should get preference when it comes to good jobs, higher education or even in some cases the simple right to work outside the home, according to a new survey of 22 nations.
Women who used a vaginal microbicidal gel containing an antiretroviral medication were 39 percent less likely over all to contract H.I.V. than those who used a placebo.
After two decades in which researchers searched fruitlessly for an effective vaginal microbicide to block H.I.V., South African scientists working in two AIDS-devastated communities of South Africa, one rural and one urban, say they have finally found something that shows real promise.
Women who used a vaginal microbicidal gel containing an antiretroviral medication widely used to treat AIDS, tenofovir, were 39 percent less likely over all to contract H.I.V. than those who used a placebo. Those who used the gel most regularly reduced their chances of infection 54 percent, according to a two-and-a-half year study of 889 women by Caprisa, a Durban-based AIDS research center.
Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now under way— and its vast cultural consequences
“Basically, all my life I’d been told you can’t do that because you’re female. So I guess I just didn’t pay any attention. I just went ahead and did what I could and then, when the stars aligned, I was ready. - Shannon Lucid”—
Photo by Kirsten Luce, Article by Guy Trebay for The New York Times
Ms. Parmar’s tatooed hand holds a mirror fragment, which she uses to decorate the pillow covers she sells in Gujarat, India.
At a practical level, Ms. Parmar’s trip required a series of unusual conveyances, among them a bullock cart, a trishaw, the flatbed of a Jeep and the open-topped shuttle bus she rode to reach an airport before boarding a form of transport she had seldom seen up close before, let alone ridden.
At a deeper cultural level, her journey is yet stranger and more wonderful, embodying as it does a half-century of global feminism and the evolutionary arc of modern India. In the cattle-herding community Ms. Parmar belongs to, one among a cluster of groups categorized by the Indian constitution as “scheduled castes,” women were traditionally bound not just to their region or village but to the home.