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The women-only travel industry works for India, but lets not copy it

Source: google

Source: google

New York is getting its first women-only taxi service this week. Female customers can now use an app to hire a taxi driven by a female. In New York City the taxis are called SheRides in other cities they use the name SheTaxi. Their drivers will have – very original – pink pashminas.

In India we’re familiar with the women-only travel concept. We have female only taxis, separate ladies compartments on trains and the metro. On government busses the first rows of seats are reserved for women. For me it works well, I find traveling this way comfortable. Because we have more men out on the streets in India the general sections on the trains are extremely over crowed almost every hour of the day. For me choosing to ride in the women’s compartment isn’t always about being scared to get groped by a guy, but more about making sure that I get a seat.

But I often wonder if always traveling in women’s compartments has made me more apprehensive of interacting with men when I travel. When you travel on a long distance train for example there is no women-only option. So you might find yourself on a sleeper bed with above and below you a snoring old man. I believe in equality between the sexes and although it gets me a seat, shouldn’t I be against separating men and women? Read More

Maldives: Drawings in the sand

Politics in sand

Maldivian artist Afzal Shaafiu Hasan has brought his island country’s traditions to all his art – his paintings, sketches, and even to the national postage stamps he’s designed.  But its his most recent medium that’s made him a sensation.  It seems only fitting that he should use sand – the fine white sand of the famous  tourist resorts that most people know the Maldives from – to express the beauty and pain surrounding his people.

Sand activist
When the democratically elected president Nasheed was ousted during a Coup on the 7th of February, people took to the streets protesting against the new regime. The images of the police lashing out at the protesters are engraved on the collective memory of Maldivians though largely unknown to the rest of the world.

The slide show below is an illustration of the captivating performance art that Hasan creates with nothing more than light, shadows and sand, conjuring an eerily lifelike rendition of the violence that wracked his people during the coup.  He named the piece Baton Day.


Nepal’s disabled grab their chances on the pitch

She crouches down to place her cricket bat horizontally on the ground. Carefully she tilts her head just a little to listen to the sound of the ball approaching. And then when it’s close enough she sweeps across the ground and hits the ball. Sunita Ghimeri from the first blind women’s cricket team proves that cricket is not a sport reserved for men with good eyesight only.

In Kathmandu Sunita and her team of visually impaired girls fight against the public’s prejudice against handicapped people every day, by playing cricket.

“I’m playing for the B3 category. In blind cricket there are three categories. B1 means totally blind, B2 means partially blind, B3 means low vision. The score of a B1 player, is double,” Sunita explains who, even though she’s one of the best sighted players from her team, can’t actually see if she’s scored a six.

“I hear the ball because of the little bell inside, but I have to find out what my score is from the score keeper on the sideline,” Sunita says.

Disabled in Nepal

Organisations like the Blind Women’s Cricket Association and the National Rehabilitation Society (NRS) try to raise awareness about disabilities in Nepal. Especially in remote villages people still see it as a curse.

Parents keep their disabled children inside, as they’re often unaware of the help they can get to live a normal life.

This was the case for Krishna Raj Chaudary, who lives in a remote mountain area in Nepal. She has no legs. “When I was in the village I didn’t know about a wheelchair, people had to carry me everywhere,” says Khrishna.

In Nepal’s capital Kathmandu Krishna got a wheelchair from the NRS. He’s now the captain of a wheelchair basketball team. With his special chair, he can outsmart most players on the court.
This week’s show
Because of Nepal’s poor infrastructure, Krishna and Sunita depend on others to help them when they’re back on the road. The freedom that both of them get in their sport is gone once they step off the pitch.

On this week’s show we talk about sports and how it can be a great tool to empower Nepal’s disabled community.

When Nakshatra goes out for a coffee with his mother, they’re both on the look-out for cute men.


Web artikel voor Love Matters een website van Radio Netherlands Worldwide op 16 mei 2013

When Nakshatra goes out for a coffee with his mother, they’re both on the look-out for cute men. “Do you fancy that guy?” she’ll say.

Things haven’t always been this way. Growing up in a village, he became aware of his feelings aged 16. A year later, after a move to Mumbai, he told his parents he was gay. His mum said she wished he was dead. Read More

The Maldives; a country without justice

Can you imagine a country without a court? That’s how we were, says Aishath Velezinee. As a member of the Judicial Service Commission she was in charge of reforming the Maldives’ judicial system after years of dictatorship. But the country’s brief period of democracy didn’t last. This February democratically elected president Nasheed was ousted in a coup.  Before we elected Nasheed we removed a dictator,” Velezinee says, “but we failed to remove his regime.”

Read More

Nepal’s first transgender politician on a mission

When Bhumika Shrestha was little she loved to dress up in her mother’s clothes and wear her sister’s lipstick. Her parents did not see a problem in their son wanting to dress-up. He was just a little kid after all. But Bhumika, then called Kailash, didn’t grow out of it. When she became a teenager she knew for sure that she didn’t want to be a boy anymore, but a lady.

“My family gave me a boy’s name, Kailash. I didn’t like it because when I grew up my feelings and my way of thinking was totally a woman. I didn’t know why, but I felt like a girl,” says Bhumika Shrestha.

Last year the Nepalese government announced it would be the first country to include a third gender in its national census. It was a landmark announcement that citizens no longer had to conform to either the male or female box on the questionnaire. But unfortunately, to date this census has not resulted in a clear count of transgender people in Nepal.

The Blue Diamond Society (BDS), an organization for the LGBT community, has nearly 400,000 officially registered members.

Since the organization was founded in 2001 by Sunil Pant, it has been extremely successful in advocating the rights of the community.

Bhumika Shrestha is an example of this success. From being taunted by her community when she was younger, she is now an avid spokesperson for the BDS, and the country’s first transgender politician.

“In Nepali society, especially in my village, people do not understand. When I walk around, people look at me and start laughing,” Bhumika explains how it wasn’t easy for her to grow up in a small village.

Watch the photo film below:


Trying to find the truth behind US drone strikes


It was on the 23 of January 2009 that newly elected President of the United States Barack Obama commissioned his first drone strike. Three days after his inauguration he continued to follow the policy that was started under George W. Bush. According to American intelligence it was a successful attack, killing 10 to 14 militants. For Fahim Qureshi, an grade 8 student at the time, it was the day his life would change.

What US intelligence claimed to be a militant hide out, was Farhim’s house. He stays there with his family who, he claims, have no ties to Taliban or any other militant group. The young boy lost three of his uncles, a cousin close to his age and three neighbours. Shrapnel struck Fahim and went straight through his stomach. Another piece hit his eye, which he lost, leaving a big scar.

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Human trafficking in Nepal, the never ending story.

Every year thousands of Nepali girls decide to leave home. Sometimes they run away without telling their family of their plans. Some of them are forced by their families to search for a job outside the village. But for about 7000 Nepali girls every year, this dream ends in deception. The job that seemed too-good-to-be-true turns out to be exactly that – too good to be true.

These girls are trafficked across the border to India to work in brothels or are sold into household slavery.  It’s been called the busiest slave traffic in the world. Read More