Year 2022

In the dark: health care in Wazirithal
, and • Bandipore district, Jammu and Kashmir

50. In the dark: health care in Wazirithal

Pregnant women in an isolated village of Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipore district struggle with erratic power supply and poor public healthcare facilities. Their only hope is an old dai in the village

November 17, 2022 | Jigyasa Mishra

Women beedi workers’ health: up in smoke
, and • Murshidabad, West Bengal

49. Women beedi workers’ health: up in smoke

In Murshidabad district, it is the poorest women who roll beedis – a physically punishing job. The constant exposure to tobacco from a young age puts their general and reproductive health at great risk

October 31, 2022 | Smita Khator

No country for menstruating girls and women
, and • Udham Singh Nagar, Uttarakhand

48. No country for menstruating girls and women

In Uttarakhand’s Udham Singh Nagar district, women speak about the deep prejudices and hardships that are forced on them during menstruation and childbirth

September 19, 2022 | Kriti Atwal

Birthing in the backseat of a Bolero
, and • Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

47. Birthing in the backseat of a Bolero

Women in Himachal Pradesh’s rural areas continue to face challenges to their maternal health and well-being in the absence of accessible medical services and fully functional community health centres

August 31, 2022 | Jigyasa Mishra

46. The private torment of Asundi’s Dalit women

Low wages and 'starvation diets' adversely affect women's well-being in this village in Haveri district. And the absence of toilets in their colony is proving worse for those who suffer poor menstrual health

August 18, 2022 | S. Senthalir

45. ‘I walked off alone, to get my tubes tied’

With their menfolk away, working as migrant workers in Surat and other places, the ‘left-behind’ women of a Gameti community in Udaipur district are making contraception and health care decisions by themselves

July 27, 2022 | Kavitha Iyer

‘I just didn’t want to have another child’
, and • South West Delhi, National Capital Territory of Delhi

44. ‘I just didn’t want to have another child’

Sunita Devi wanted a safe and easy way to stop having more children, but after a copper-T failed, she was forced to go from a PHC to a private facility to governmental hospitals in Delhi and Bihar to get an abortion

July 12, 2022 | Sanskriti Talwar

43. In Tikari: a depot holder of stories and secrets

Armed with a bag of contraceptives and condoms, Kalavati Soni is a trusted friend to women of Tikari village in Amethi district. Her informal conversations keep the message of reproductive rights alive here

June 22, 2022 | Anubha Bhonsle

42. ‘It all started after my uterus was removed’

In Beed district, where a large numbers of female sugarcane workers underwent hysterectomies, women are silently coping with post-surgery anxiety, depression, physical ailments and strained marital relations

March 25, 2022 | Jyoti Shinoli

‘I didn’t want others to know I had miscarried’
, and • South 24 Parganas, West Bengal

41. ‘I didn’t want others to know I had miscarried’

Their river water is more saline, the summers hotter, and accessible public healthcare is a distant dream. These factors together have trapped women in a maze of health problems in the Sundarbans

March 10, 2022 | Urvashi Sarkar

‘They grope me when they give my medicines’
and • North West Delhi, National Capital Territory of Delhi

40. ‘They grope me when they give my medicines’

Exploited and humiliated by hospital staff, their confidentiality violated, sex workers’ unique stigma limits their ability to access healthcare even in capital Delhi. The pandemic has pushed them further to the edge

February 21, 2022 | Shalini Singh

RMPs in Jharkhand: a ‘healing’ driven by trust
and • Pashchimi Singhbhum, Jharkhand

39. RMPs in Jharkhand: a ‘healing’ driven by trust

A ramshackle healthcare system, along with infrastructure challenges in the interior villages of Pashchimi Singhbhum district, make 'Rural Medical Practitioners’ indispensable – and health a matter of faith

February 3, 2022 | Jacinta Kerketta

The last few birthing mothers of Melghat
, and • Amravati, Maharashtra

38. The last few birthing mothers of Melghat

In the Adivasi settlements around Maharashtra’s Melghat tiger reserve, dais like Ropi and Charku have for decades handled home deliveries. But both are elderly and there is no one to carry forward their legacy

January 28, 2022 | Kavitha Iyer

In UP: male nasbandi – ‘not even an option’
, , and • Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

37. In UP: male nasbandi – ‘not even an option’

For Musahar women in UP’s Varanasi district, what worsens the deprivation dogging their lives is not just a lack of access to health services but the history of stigmatisation restricting their choices

January 10, 2022 | Jigyasa Mishra

Year 2021

36. In Madhubani, girls are born but not certified

Women from poor families in Bihar’s Madhubani district face hurdles when accessing health services at the best of times. So when petty corruption surfaces in the few systems that serve them at all, they’re helpless

October 27, 2021 | Jigyasa Mishra

In UP: ‘Our village lives in another era’
, , and • Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh

35. In UP: ‘Our village lives in another era’

The story of Sonu and Meena, who will soon be married though they’ve barely entered their teens, is also that of many other menstruating girls from Dalit hamlets in rural Prayagraj

October 11, 2021 | Priti David

34. Three daughters? Then have two sons at least

Women from different backgrounds in Bihar’s Gaya district share an existence of penury, poor access to education, and lack of control over their lives, placing their health and well-being at constant risk

September 29, 2021 | Jigyasa Mishra

Caught in a copper-T web: ‘The pain didn’t stop’
, and • West Delhi, National Capital Territory of Delhi

33. Caught in a copper-T web: ‘The pain didn’t stop’

When Deepa left a hospital in Delhi after childbirth, she was not aware a copper-T had been inserted into her. Two years later, when the pain and bleeding began, doctors couldn't locate the device for months

September 14, 2021 | Sanskriti Talwar

32. ‘It feels like the men are always watching us’

Locked public toilets, faraway blocks, curtained cubicles, a lack of privacy for bathing or sanitary disposal, night-time treks to railway tracks – are all daily hurdles for girls from migrant families in Patna’s slums

August. 31, 2021 | Kavitha Iyer

31. ‘Wish I had known there's cancer in the water’

In villages of Bihar with arsenic in groundwater, families like Preeti's have lost both men and women to cancer, and she too has a breast lump. But women here often face greater challenges in seeking treatment

August 25, 2021 | Kavitha Iyer

30. In Bihar: 7 home childbirths, grandma at 36

Shanti Manjhi has given birth to seven kids at home in her Musahar hamlet in Bihar's Sheohar district. Few here have access to health services and most don’t know if there is a PHC that helps with deliveries

August 18, 2021 | Kavitha Iyer

29. ‘I don’t want my daughters to end up like me’

Child and adolescent brides in Bihar’s Patna district have no choice but to keep producing babies until they deliver a boy. For them, social custom and prejudice override laws and legal pronouncements

July 23, 2021 | Jigyasa Mishra

Kadugolla women: quarantined every month
, and • Ramanagara, Karnataka

28. Kadugolla women: quarantined every month

Fear of divine wrath and social stigma force postpartum and menstruating women of Karnataka’s Kudgollla community to segregate under trees and in shacks – despite a law, campaigns and individual resistance

July 5, 2021 | Tamanna Naseer

‘I am not a marriageable woman’
, , and • Muzaffarpur, Bihar

27. ‘I am not a marriageable woman’

Sex workers in the Chaturbhuj Sthan brothel of Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district, who often go through pregnancies at an early age to please their ‘permanent’ clients, were badly hit by the Covid-19 lockdowns

June 15, 2021 | Jigyasa Mishra
How baby Mrutyunjay was born in Malkangiri
, , and • Malkangiri, Odisha

26. How baby Mrutyunjay was born in Malkangiri

In Adivasi hamlets in a reservoir area of Odisha's Malkangiri, amid thick forests, high hills, and the state-militant conflict, erratic boat services and broken roads are the only ways to reach sparse health facilities

June 4, 2021 | Jayanti Buruda

25. In Bihar: 'I got married during corona'

In Bihar's villages, during the lockdown last year, teenage girls were married off to young male migrant workers who returned home. Many are now pregnant and anxious about what comes next

May 7, 2021 | Kavitha Iyer

24. In Madhubani: surreptitiously seeking a change

A decade ago, Bihar's Hasanpur village mostly bypassed family planning. Now, women often approach healthcare volunteers Salah and Shama for an injectable contraceptive. What brought about this shift?

April 13, 2021 | Kavitha Iyer

23. Bihar’s ‘lady’ doctors: overworked, shouted at

For the few female gynaecologists working in Bihar's Kishanganj district, the day is long, medical supplies are short, and handling their patients' multiple pregnancies and contraception reluctance is an uphill task

April 7, 2021 | Anubha Bhonsle

22. ‘I have nine girls and this tenth one – a boy’

For women of the Bharard pastoralist community in Dholka taluka of Gujarat, the pressure to have sons and few family planning options mean contraception choices and reproductive rights are mere words

April 1, 2021 | Pratishtha Pandya

21. 'He says if I keep studying, who will marry me?'

In Bihar's Samastipur district, teenage girls from Mahadalit communities face social stigma and even physical force to drop their education, give up their dreams, and get married – some try to resist, others give in

March 29, 2021 | Amruta Byatnal

20. 'Our office and sleeping area are the same

Shortage of space and lack of facilities compel health workers in a primary health centre in Bihar’s Darbhanga district to sleep in the office, on ward beds, and sometimes even on the floor

March 26, 2021 | Jigyasa Mishra

19. Declared dead in womb, birth certified next day

At a PHC in Bihar’s Vaishali district, the ultrasound machine is home to spiders, the staff demands money, and told a family their unborn baby was dead – making them rush to a private clinic at great cost

February 22, 2021 | Jigyasa Mishra

18. Decrepit health centres, 'bina-degree' doctors

An understaffed PHC where wild animals wander in, fears about hospitals, poor phone connectivity – all ensure that pregnant women in Bihar’s Baragaon Khurd village invariably deliver at home

February 15, 2021 | Anubha Bhonsle and Vishnu Singh

17. In Almora, moving mountains for childbirth

Last year, Rano Singh of Uttarakhand’s Almora district gave birth on the road, halfway uphill to a hospital, in a region where the terrain and expenses compel many in the mountain hamlets to deliver at home

February 11, 2021 | Jigyasa Mishra

Year 2020

A coerced sterilisation, a senseless death
, , and • Chittaurgarh, Rajasthan

16. A coerced sterilisation, a senseless death

Bhavna Suthar of Rajasthan's Bansi village died after a sterilisation procedure at a 'camp' last year that flouted norms and gave her no time to consider options. Her husband Dinesh is still seeking justice

November 20, 2020 | Anubha Bhonsle

15. ‘Clients even in my ninth month of pregnancy’

With four miscarriages, an alcoholic husband, and the loss of her factory job, Delhi-based Honey turned to sex work when pregnant a fifth time, and has lived with an STD since. Now, in lockdown, she struggles to earn

October 15, 2020 | Jigyasa Mishra

'How did my wife develop an infection?'
, , , and • Dausa, Rajasthan

14. 'How did my wife develop an infection?'

An infection after a sterilisation set off three years of pain, a bewildering runaround of hospitals, growing debt, and eventually a hysterectomy for 27-year-old Susheela Devi of Rajasthan’s Dausa district

September 3, 2020 | Anubha Bhonsle and Sanskriti Talwar

13. ‘The doctor says my bones have become hollow’

After a lifetime of illness and surgeries, including a uterus removal, Bibabai Loyare of Hadashi village in Pune district is bent and sunken. Still, she continues to do farm work and looks after a paralytic husband

July 2, 2020 | Medha Kale

'My kaat [uterus] keeps coming out'
, , and • Nandurbar, Maharashtra

12. 'My kaat [uterus] keeps coming out'

Bhil women with a prolapsed uterus cannot access medical facilities in Maharashtra's Nandurbar district. They struggle with no road or mobile connectivity, unrelenting hard labour and excruciating pain

June 17, 2020 | Jyoti Shinoli

11. ‘The doctors advised a womb removal surgery’

The sexual and reproductive health rights of intellectually disabled women are often violated through forced hysterectomies. But in Maharashtra's Wadi village, Malan More is lucky to have had the support of her mother

June 09, 2020 | Medha Kale

10. 'After some 12 children it stops on its own'

In Haryana’s Biwan village, access to contraception among the Meo Muslims is uphill due to cultural factors, inaccessible health services and indifferent providers – trapping women in a cycle of childbirth

May 20, 2020 | Anubha Bhonsle and Sanskriti Talwar
Locked-down schoolgirls: no basic needs, period
, , and • Chitrakoot, Uttar Pradesh

9. Locked-down schoolgirls: no basic needs, period

With schools shut, girls from poor families in Uttar Pradesh’s Chitrakoot district have lost access to free sanitary napkins and are turning to risky options. In UP alone, the numbers of such girls runs to millions

May 12, 2020 | Jigyasa Mishra
Counting cows, not rural health indicators
, , , and • Sonipat, Haryana

8. Counting cows, not rural health indicators

Underpaid and over-burdened with endless surveys, reports and tasks, Sunita Rani and other ASHA workers of Haryana’s Sonipat district struggle to attend to the reproductive health needs of rural families

May 8, 2020 | Anubha Bhonsle and Pallavi Prasad

7. In the Nilgiris, an inheritance of malnutrition

Mothers with almost no haemoglobin, two-years-olds weighing 7 kilos, alcoholism, low incomes and falling access to the forest are spurring acute malnutrition amongst Adivasi women in Gudalur, Tamil Nadu

May 1, 2020 | Priti David
'For that grandson, we had four children'
, , , and • Sonipat, Haryana

6. 'For that grandson, we had four children'

The women of Harsana Kalan village in Haryana, around 40 kilometres from Delhi, describe their struggles to achieve some control over their own lives and reproductive choices in the face of male hostility

April 21, 2020 | Anubha Bhonsle and Sanskriti Talwar

'Now my goats are like my children'
, , and • Nandurbar, Maharashtra

5. 'Now my goats are like my children'

Bhil women from the Dhadgaon region in Maharashtra's Nandurbar district struggle with stigma, social exclusion and a rural healthcare system that fails to provide effective treatment for infertility

April 13, 2020 | Jyoti Shinoli

4. 'Last year, only one man agreed to a vasectomy'

'Male engagement' in family planning is a buzzword, but the Vikas Mitras and ASHA workers of Bihar report little success in convincing men to undergo sterilisation, and contraception continues to be left to women

March 18, 2020 | Amruta Byatnal
'They are just given a pill and sent away'
, , and • Narayanpur, Chhattisgarh

3. 'They are just given a pill and sent away'

The well-equipped primary health centres in Chhattisgarh's Narayanpur district remain out of reach for many Adivasi women, who turn to unqualified practitioners for potentially dangerous abortions and deliveries

March 11, 2020 | Priti David

'End of bother' – Neha gets a nasbandi
, , and • Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh

2. 'End of bother' – Neha gets a nasbandi

A ‘nasbandi day’ has replaced sterilisation camps after a 2016 SC order, but it's still mainly women who undergo surgeries – and many in UP do so without any other choice of modern contraception methods

February 28, 2020 | Anubha Bhonsle

Koovalapuram's curious guesthouse
, , and • Madurai, Tamil Nadu

1. Koovalapuram's curious guesthouse

In Koovalapuram and four other villages of Madurai district, menstruating women continue to be isolated in 'guesthouses'. No one challenges the discrimination, fearing the wrath of the gods and humans

February 20, 2020 | Kavitha Muralidharan