ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Feminist Critical Medical Anthropology Methodologies

The author is a critical feminist medical anthropologist who has been engaged in ethnographic research on women's health issues in India for the past 25 years. Drawing from her own research experiences, this paper explores the methodologies entailed in research as a feminist critical medical anthropologist: by unpacking core methodological assumptions behind each component of her disciplinary position, introducing methodologies at each level--sociocultural anthropology, medical anthropology, critical medical anthropology, and finally feminist critical medical anthropology. It also examines how she has operationalised the fusion of these methodological approaches in her own research projects. The ways in which the findings from this research have contributed to our understanding of gender and can be useful for improving healthcare for women are also discussed.

Risk of Intimate Partner Violence and Alcohol Use

This response to "Domestic Violence and Effectiveness of Law Enforcement Agencies: A Panel Data Study" (EPW, 16 January 2016) supports the recommendation to increase quantitative research efforts in the field and apply evidence-based policy to reduce violence against women. As an example, the article presents an epidemiological analysis of alcohol as an important risk factor for intimate partner violence against women in India.

Demographic and Health Trends in India (2005-06--2015-16)

A brief exposition of the trends in health, fertility, status of women, nutrition and child mortality between 2005-06 and 2015-16 as have emerged from the National Family Health Survey in 17 states.

Commercial Surrogacy in India

Based on an ethnographic study of commercial surrogacy in an Indian city, this article highlights some important issues that require a nuanced understanding of the process.

Gender Inequality in Well-being in India

This article proposes to measure functioning-based well-being, as proposed by Amartya Sen and others, for 28 states in India based on National Family Health Survey 3 (2005-06) data. Significant differences between states were found in terms of well-being and wealth indices. Overall, women were found to be far behind men in terms of well-being. The well-being of women was found to decline with age and when they were in larger families, unlike men. While upper-caste women were not found to be doing significantly better than Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe women, upper-caste men were better off. And the women in the northern mountainous regions were found to be doing better than women in the Indo-Gangetic plains. However, the well-being of both men and women was found to be significantly related to the wealth they possessed.

Menstrual Management and Low-cost Sanitary Napkins

The provision of low-cost sanitary napkins to women in rural areas is not an answer to the myriad problems they face in menstrual management. Apart from the need for a mechanism for ensuring the quality of the products and reducing the environmental cost of non-reusable products, the need is for a change in the attitude towards menstruation. It is because this is a taboo topic ruled by religio-cultural conventions that rural women face not only discomfort but also problems linked to reproductive health.

Safe Abortion as a Women's Right

A study conducted among law enforcement officials in seven countries across Asia by the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership to measure the level of knowledge, attitude and awareness of women’s rights as well as safe and legal abortion shows lack of understanding about the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and the subsequent amendments. Many lawyers believe that even if it did become a regular component of the law curriculum, there would be few takers, given the low potential for such cases in the practice. In the current environment, where the issue of implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act tends to wrongly overshadow discussions on safe abortion and the MTP Act, these views are important as they affect the way safe abortion is perceived as a women’s right and have an impact on restriction or liberalisation of women’s access to safe abortion services.

Women at Risk in the Unregulated Surrogacy 'Industry'

In recent times India has become a haven for commercial surrogacy, a controversial assisted reproductive technology. Acute poverty means that there are always women ready to rent their wombs. But lack of laws and regulations means there is no transparency in the business of surrogacy and the surrogate mothers are prone to exploitation. The Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill 2013 aims to mend matters. This exploratory study conducted in Kolkata brings to light challenges that any legislation dealing with surrogacy must address. It shows how poor women who rent their wombs for money--ignoring social stigma, health hazards, fear and mental stress--are vulnerable to exploitation.

Female Deselection and Gender Violence in India

Gender, Identity and Violence: Female Deselection in India by Rainuka Dagar, Routledge: New Delhi, 2014; pp 325, Rs 795.

Blood, Period

In many countries, especially in India, menstruation is a subject of taboo and stigma, which feeds the ego and pride of a misogynist society that objectifies and sexualises women.

Studying Women Seeking Abortions

Abortion in Asia: Local Dilemmas, Global Politics edited by Andrea Whittaker, New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2013; pp xii + 253, Rs 895.

Contrived Confusions

Ethical dilemmas surrounding abortion, particularly the conflict between human and legal rights of a childbearing woman and the so-called rights of an unborn child, are quite legitimate. However, the pro-life activists should desist from treating a woman as mere receptacle for the unborn child, taking away her inalienable right to control her own body.

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