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India: Sanlaap and Manavi


Project Update

Sanlaap and Manavi published a Bengali adaptation of Our Bodies, Ourselves in 2009.

This booklet, entitled  Aamaar Shastha, Aamaar Satta (My Health, My Self) is based on 2 sections in Our Bodies, Ourselves - sexual health and self care - and received extensive input from rural and urban communities and women activist leaders in India and Bangladesh. As a result, it is targetted to the specific needs of Bengali women and girls.    

But don't take our word.

Here is what a participant had to say during a focus group in the community: "We want to talk so much about our bodies and sexuality, but we don't know where to go with our questions. [This booklet] would give us that opportunity."

The booklet provides information on a range of issues and local services. It covers concerns particular to the South Asian context, including: skin whitening - a practice that has gained cross-class and cross-gender popularity in India; nutrition - in response to an influx of high-calorie "junk" food in the Indian market thanks to increasing middle class affluence; and the dynamics of same sex relationships and safe sex practices like dental dams - a "first" for health information in Bengali!

Our partners have received enthusiastic feedback. Community allies have said that "such a good health handbook is not present in Bengali literature yet"... and "Hindi and Urdu versions of the book must also be released". A respected gynecologist-and-obstetrician believes "everyone should go through the book once".

With 1,500 copies in print, distribution is underway in rural and urban West Bengal and Bangladesh. The goal is to reach 20,000 women and girls, using an extensive grassroots and institutional network of NGOs, school libraries, village councils, women health providers and educators. Our partners are also reaching policy makers; most recently, the West Bengal state Health Minister and Chairperson of the State Comimission for Women, both of whom have received copies of the booklet and expressed interest in increasing access to its contents.      

If you would like more information about this project and explore ways you might get involved, please contact the OBOS Global Initiative staff.

For More on Human Rights and Related Coverage in India and Bangladesh, Visit: 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/world/south_asia/10567761.stm (Study on women and safety)  

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/south_asia/8546183.stm (India's unbearable lightness of being)


http://www.ipas.org/Countries/India.aspx (India and abortion)


http://www.hindustantimes.com/Sex-selection-just-a-mouse-click-away/H1-Article1-478592.aspx (India and sex selection)


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7542521.stm (India and child health)


http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/south_asia/8570692.stm (Inside Bangladeshís sweatshops)


http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/south_asia/8571245.stm (Bangladesh and the MDGs)

Meet Our Partner

The transcreation of Our Bodies, Ourselves into Bengali is a partnership between two organizations - Sanlaap in India and Manavi in the US - with impressive track records implementing culturally and linguistically sensitive programs for women and girls in their communities.

Sanlaap, founded in 1987, works to prevent trafficking in girls and women for commercial sex. The organization has state-wide, national and international allies and regularly collaborates with various government agencies. In the community, they provide mental and physical health care and legal assistance (particularly in red-light areas) and build awareness on the health and rights of sex workers and their families. While a list of publications and tools is available on their website, here is a sampling:  

  • Plan of Action - A report on prostitution, child prostitutes and children of prostitutes and a plan of action. 
  • Combat Crimes against Children - A handbook for police. 
  • Dehobyabsha Ki Ekti Samshya / Aparadh - An investigative study on the views of civil society towards prostitution. 
  • Bare foot Light - A book on young survivors of physical and psychological torture.  
  • Yet Another Right - Care standards for services provided to child victims and the child protection policy of Sanlaap. 
  • In Search of Justice - A report on reasons for low conviction rates in judicial cases of trafficking.
  • Gender, Sex & Sexuality, HIV/AIDS, Migration and Trafficking - A training manual for field workers.
  • Bare Minimum - A guide for care givers of survivors.
  • Pocket Handbook On Trafficking & Commercial Sexual Exploitation - A handbook of laws and available resources.

The project coordinator at Sanlaap, Indrani Sinha, is the organization's Executive Director. Indrani is a seasoned activist who has received extensive media coverage for her work on reproductive and social justice and trafficking. Here are 2 articles: http://word.world-citizenship.org/wp-archive/1782 and http://www.boloji.com/wfs5/wfs568.htm

Manavi, founded in New Jersey in 1985, is the first organization in the US to focus on violence against women in the South Asian community. A state-wide entity at the forefront of the domestic violence movement, they emphasize innovative intervention methods that combine counseling practices of the West with traditional techniques acceptable to South Asian women. For more information on their approach, read the Manavi Occasional Paper (on the trans-national abandonment of South Asian women) and the 2007 Manavi Journal. If you are looking for other resources, including a set of Information Cards on Violence Against South Asian Women in the US  (available in English, Bangla, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi and Urdu), please visit the organization's website. 

The project coordinator at Manavi, Shamita Das Dasgupta, is a Clinical Adjunct Assistant Professor of Law with the NYU Law School. She has published several articles in the areas of her specialization: ethnicity, gender, immigration, and violence against women; and authored a number of books including The Demon Slayers and Other Stories: Bengali Folktales and A Patchwork Shawl and Chronicles of South Asian Women in America. An interview with Shamita, published by Frontline / The Hindu can be found at:  http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2425/stories/20080104242503100.htm

Quite a team!

For more information about Sanlaap and Manavi, please contact either the OBOS Global Initiative or the organizations directly. 

Contact Person: Shamita Das Dasgupta / Indrani Sinha
Address: 38 B Mahanirban Road, Kolkata 700029 India
Email: shamitadas@hotmail.com / indrani.sanlaap@gmail.com
Phone: 91-33-2464-9596 Fax: 91-33-2465-4578
Website: www.manavi.org / www.sanlaapindia.org

Looking for a Copy?

Read the preface of the Bengali booklet, translated into English. 

If you would like copies of the booklet or other resources produced by our partners, please contact Sanlaap at indrani.sanlaap@gmail.com or sanlaap@rediffmail.com.



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