Where to find abortion clinics in North East? Kohima!

What do you expect when you’re about to visit a Family Planning Association of India clinic for the first time. You don’t know what to expect. I was at home, visiting one of cities of North East, trying to figure out if I could  find a good health clinic.

I took a bus from BOC point and headed to main town. From there, I got out of the bus and started walking as the traffic jam was massive. It wasn’t much of a challenge finding the clinic as I was initially given the address from which I clearly remember the name of the colony it stood in- Daklane. And as I reached the colony, the first person I met, I asked where Reproductive Health and Family Planning clinic is and he directed me perfectly and I didn’t need to ask anyone again on my way.

 

The moment I reached the clinic, I stretched my neck as it stood at a peak, and realized just how normal the clinic was and how though I’ve been to the colony many times I never really saw this yellow structure with huge billboards on Reproductive Health and Family Planning.

As I climbed up the stairs and entered, I was greeted by the head, who then took me to his office and after a brief conversation, introduced me to his team who will tell me about the clinic and answer my queries. It didn’t feel like I was in an alien place and though it was my first time I felt familiar with it.

The team took me through the process of the clinic right;

Registration,
Immunization (for children),
Counselling,
OPD and so on.

I was told they get about 250 patients coming in every month from all age groups. The number however used to be higher but because of the change in the consulting doctor who was liked by many and with whom many found comfort, had to take leave for further studies. He had a great rapport with the patients and was always the preferred one. Two doctors are currently in chair, one a male and the other a female. They take turns and are available through Monday to Friday. They have also through time have gained trust of patients and the number of visiting patients are increasing.

The clinic follows a No Refusal Policy.

Where though most treatments are FREE, for the few where fees are imposed is also not considered mandatory and if a patient is unable to pay, he or she is relieved from having to pay at all. The fee for MVA which is for safe abortion is two thousand rupees, covering all expenses like meds, procedure, full doses required. Again, even if the patient is unable to pay they will still treat her without payment.

They provide free contraceptives, and also conduct other long term procedures like coppertine, sterilization (both female and male).

The clinic not only receives patient from Kohima but all over Nagaland. Doctors from other districts and villages refer them to the clinic. Even government hospitals like Naga Hospital, Kohima refers patients to the clinic. Apart from these, they also provide Hepatitis B and C services. The clinic also have a good amount of HIV and IDU patients. Apart from such in house treatments, they also cater to an adolescents program called Adolescents Education Program, where they visit government schools and less privileged private schools, and hold comprehensive sexuality program. They conduct events and programs in order to share information on the same and create awareness. They also hold monthly musical program called Top Acts on every 4th Saturday in order to create a positive space for the same. The day I visited the clinic, an abortion was underway. It was the first time in my life that I stood next to a room where an abortion was underway. And rather than feeling anything else, I only worried if the patient is doing okay. And hoped she’d be fit both physically and mentally soon.

 

As I took my leave and was on my way out a young girl working there offered me tea, and as I came out of the clinic, it was just a normal day again. The clinic has two exits and entrances making it easier for patients to take whichever is best directed to their house or bus/taxi station. Just a couple of minutes of walk away is the bus stop and taxi station.

 

Writer : Sekulu Nyekha

Hornbill Festival: Land of Festivals

A Glimpse of the Hornbill Festival celebrated in the ‘Land of festivals’.

  • Hornbill is the biggest festival celebrated in Nagaland and also in the Northeast region of India.

 

The Hornbill Festival is an annual festival which started in the year 2000 with a vision to showcase the tradition and culture of the Nagas as a form of preserving and celebrating it.

 

It is celebrated in the first week of December commencing from the 1St of December and is celebrated till December 10th.

Each day has it’s own set of competitions, contests, cultural shows etc. Such as, Photography contest, Miss Nagaland Beauty Pageant, WW2 Vintage Motor Rally and other competitions such as The Naga King Chili eating competition, Pork Belly Fat eating competition etc. which are greatly enjoyed by the crowd.

 

There are also stalls which sells arts and crafts, which includes paintings, wood crafts, doll making, traditional ornaments etc. Giving a platform for the Naga artists to promote themselves.

 

 

  • Handicrafts sold at Hornbill Fest

Hornbill International Rock Contest is also held during the festival which has the biggest prize money in the country. The contest is joined by competitors all over the country competing against each other for the prize money. This attracts audiences from all over the country, young and old. Bringing music lovers from all over the state and country together.

  • Pictures of the International Hornbill Rock Contest.

The Hornbill festival brings along with it, the celebration of the varied traditions of the Naga culture. It helps as a means of bringing unity among the varied tribes of the Nagas. This celebration of the festival showcases the richness of the Naga culture by letting other people from different cultures experience the culture of the Nagas by going back to their roots.

 

Image Courtesy : Menule Chirhah

Stain The Stigma: St. Teresa College

‘Stain the Stigma’ is an initiative by the Final Year students of the Department of Communicative English, St. Teresa’s College(Autonomous), Ernakulam. The campaign aims at removing various social stigmas and taboos around Menstruation along with educating the general public about Menstrual Hygiene.

“Do not wear white clothes, do not enter the kitchen, do not get into the temple , don’t run , don’t jump”. Without any more questions and clarifications, it is very evident that the individual who is being instructed here is a woman and it is her ‘that time of the month’. ‘That time of the month’ , again a usage that is testament to the fact that euphemism still rules when the topic under conversation is Menstruation. A recent study conducted by Clue,a Menstrual Cycle Tracking Application and The International Women’s Health Coalition found that more than 5000 slang terms and euphemism exist for the word Menstruation. ‘Aunt Flow’, ‘Shark Week’, ‘the time of the month’, ‘Blood Mary’,etc are some of the most commonly used code words for periods. Though periods is nothing but a natural bodily process of women, it is still seen as something that should be whispered about and not talked about in public. Something that men should not even get to know.

teachers discussing with students
In India only 80% menstruating women have access to sanitary pads. Many women, especially the underprivileged section and those belonging to rural parts of the country, still use rags, dry leaves and straw in place of sanitary pads. This also results in various reproductive tract infections and diseases among women some of which could prove to be fatal. One out of five girl students in India drop out of school after the onset of menstruation. This is a clear indication of how traumatizing the onset of menstruation could be for some women in India. Societal taboos and lack of awareness have given rise to many misconceptions regarding menstruation. Even today there are girls who feel they are dying when they first see those red spots. Such is the extent of misconceptions prevalent in our society regarding menstruation.
Through the campaign we aim at removing such misconceptions and taboos regarding menstruation along with highlighting the importance of menstrual hygiene. We believe changes should begin at the grass root level.

 

a male teacher talking to students

So, as part of the campaign, awareness sessions will be held in schools and orphanages in and around Ernakulam. Both boys and girls would attend the sessions together as opposed to the usual practice of segregating the boys and girls while talking about menstruation. The first of such sessions was held on 5th December 2017 at the Govt Higher Secondary School, Elamakkara. The students were introduced to the topic with the aid of clippings from popular movies, videos, a dance performance and a skit. Ms. Reena Madhu and Mr. Fabel Varghese, Professors of The Department of Applied Psychology and Counselling, TocH Institute of Science and Technology, Arakunnam handled the classes for the students on menstrual hygiene and taboos respectively. The positive feedback we received from the students and teachers of the school has urged us to work more enthusiastically towards the cause.

Menstruation is a part of the lives of women that women are forced to hide and keep quiet about. We feel that social attitudes need to be changed immediately so that women are no longer weighed down by the shame of it. One-half of society must not be shunned for what is nothing but a natural bodily process.

 

Written by : Anagha Pradeep

Where do Rape Survivors go in Lucknow?

 

Hidden Pockets Collective went looking for One Stop Crisis Centre in Lucknow. “Asha Jyoti Kendra” established by state government is really good, said some of the government officials whom we had met. I was intrigued. There were One Stop Crisis Centres in Uttar Pradesh, and everybody seemed to say very good things about it. So we decided we will map it.

Asha Jyoti Kendra was inaugurated in 2016 in Uttar Pradesh. The centre was located within the campus of Lok Bandhu Sri Raj Narain Sanyukt C Hospital , near Shivalik Marg in Lucknow. The government order issued in April mentioned that a lady doctor, two nurses along with a psychiatrist at the trauma counselling centre should be there. When we visited we did see a counsellor and a lady constable standing around.

One of our first observation was that it was located in a part of the city which was bit deserted and even the hospital looked empty. We visited the hospital around 3 pm. We did not see anyone in the ward and we were informed that most of the people preferred referring the cases through NGOs or through helplines.

 

 

The centre is a huge building with lot of rooms. It has facilities in different rooms, but we did not see any service providers. They had a jeep for women help line (181) which was parked right outside the centre. Right outside the centre, is another wing of the hospital and the OPD for women is right across the lane. It had some plants around it and seemed like a nice place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The place looked clean and airy and there were plenty of posters all around the walls. There were women counsellors who were willing to answer any queries we had. The centre seems like  a good place, but it still needs to become a space where rape survivors feel comfortable approaching them.

What about the One-Stop Crisis Centre for rape victims in West Bengal?

West Bengal continues to have the long drawn process for rape victims seeking any help or recourse. Speaking to Hidden Pockets Collective about the process presently followed with rape victims, Dr. P.S.Chakravorthy, Head of the Department of Gynaecology at the IPGMER & SSKM hospital, Kolkata says, “The victims have to first report to the police. Then they visit the gynaecology department here, after which the forensic department is involved in the process. Then if required, the victim is sent to the psychiatric ward for counselling.

Typically, any One-Stop Crisis Centre for rape victims is supposed to include medical, legal-aid, psycho-social counselling, shelter, police assistance, video conferencing facility to facilitate police and court proceedings. Having mapped One-Stop Crisis Centre for rape victims in several other states including Jaipur and Kochi, Hidden Pockets Collective went looking for one in the state of West Bengal. It appears that West Bengal has no One-Stop Crisis Centre (OSCC) for rape victims. There seems to be no information available on any centre that has been set up in West Bengal either.

Nation-wide plan for One-Stop Crisis Centres (OSCC)

According to the implementation guidelines released by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in April 2015, one OSCC was to be set up in every State and Union Territory during the first phase. The Scheme of One Stop Centre was approved for 36 locations, one per each state of Union territory for implementation from April 1, 2015. The Department of Women and Child Development were required to send its proposal for a centre to the Ministry of Women and Child Development and was to be approved by the Proposal Approving Body (PAB). According to the Revised One Stop Centre Scheme report from May 2016, ‘during the year 2015-16, proposals of 33 States/UTs had been sanctioned for setting up One Stop Centre. Out of these 33, 15 Centres were become operational by 30th May, 2016.’ The scheme has also been revised to include 150 OSCCs in phase two in addition to the 36 centres from phase one. The additional centres have been distributed amongst the different states including NCT of Delhi taking into account the number of registered crime, number of female population and the Child Sex Ration in the respective state.

West Bengal not to be seen? 

Interestingly, out of the 36 from phase one, only 14 sanction orders have been listed on Ministry of Women and Child Development’s website, all for the year 2015-16. West Bengal is not to be found neither on the sanctioned list or in the list of states mentioned in the minutes of any of the PAB meetings conducted so far. It is not clear when the website of Ministry of Women and Child Development was last updated. It is also not clear if the West Bengal government is one among the 33 states whose proposal was sanctioned by the Ministry. If it is one of the 33 states,  According to the Revised One Stop Centre Scheme report, 10 additional centres have been allotted for West Bengal in phase two.

Historically, how has West Bengal reacted to OSC centre – 2016 & 17?

  • In October 2015, Maromi met the Joint Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development of West Bengal to know the status of the OSC in the state. a place has been suggested in North 24 Barashat, Noth 24 Parganas, within the complex of DM bungalow.
  • In March 2016, Maromi sent a letter to the Chief Minister’s office to understand the status of OSC in West Bengal.
  • In November 2016, Maromi representatives met Dr. Shashi Panja to invite her for a seminar. During the meeting, speaking about the OSC, the minister said regarding the setting up of the OSC during which the minister mentioned that the government is not thinking about it at the moment.
  • The Ei Shamoy article on 26, November 2016 confirmed the statement expressed by the minister.
  • The state has rejected the Centre’s proposal for stepping up of the OSC. Shashi Panja says that we have already been doing this job so there is no need to take money from the Central government and set up a separate centre.

Where do women access services if both state government and central government refuse to take any responsibility?

What happens when a gynaecologist, a poet and a man walk into the room?

If you are unable to find the service, please do write to us.

Write to us at hiddenpocketsinfo@gmail.com
Call us at +918861713567

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With four lovely performers and three speakers, Hidden Pockets and Krantikalli for #Sep28 campaign took this initiative to bring young people together and talk about Women’s Health and the City. The best part was that we had a gynecologist with us as a speaker. Dr. Suchitra is a medical officer for Family planning Association of India at the Delhi branch. Having a gynecologist among us made the audience very excited. The youngest in the crowd was a 16 years old performer.

The event was conducted at the Playground Creative House in Defense Colony, Delhi. The event started with two of the lovely performers reciting their poems. Brindalakshmi through her poems voiced the need for Red Lipstick, as if every women in the room was dying to put the red lipstick but was scared.  Anuradha recited her poetry in Hindi wherein she connected various different women and their struggles with health. Ankita spoke about body shaming and loving our own bodies while Amia brought a young adolescent’s anxieties into the room. The room was filled with an aura where we all had some questions to be answered. We all could connect with the poems, and we all connected with each other.

To the make the evening more interesting, we had our speakers next.  We had three speakers, Aisha from Hidden Pockets Collective, who mapped public health centers, and is a single women staying in a metropolitan city, went first. Second was Nitin, a man in a women’s meet, who spoke about how important it is to be a part of such discussions. As a partner, a brother and a friend, he wanted to be more engaged in these issues and be more sensitive to such issues. And third was the gynecologist, Dr. Suchitra.

 

 

The conversation was mostly focused on discussing public health centers and how difficult it is for women to access health centers, followed by sharing of experience on how it felt to visit Family Planning Association for the first time. Nitin shared his experience about visiting clinics and understanding how important it is to visit these centers with your partners.  And then we had the gynecologist talking about safe abortion, about how it is a women’s right to get a safe abortion and also about myths related to abortion.

Slowly the audience in the room started opening up. And then one by one we had the women asking questions. There was an excitement as well as seriousness in the room. Excitement because women were finally asking questions directly to a gynecologist and seriousness because all were paying attention to what the doctor was saying. The questions were related to periods, methods to contraception, pregnancy, safe abortion etc..

The audience also got to know about FPAI (Family Planning Association of India).  FPA India envisages sexual and reproductive health for all as a human right, including gender equality leading to alleviation of poverty, population stabilization and sustainable development. They have clinics around India such as in Delhi, Agra, Ahmadabad, Bangalore, Chennai, and Mumbai. We got to know how  FPAI follows ‘No Refusal Policy’ and also about how it gives importance to “after care” post having abortion and helps the person in understanding choices to contraception.

To sum up the beautiful evening, we had our performers recite their amazing poems. By the end a few still had questions, few looked content and while a few others were still in that fascinating aura.

Hidden Pockets Collective would like to thank out host partners @Krantikaali for helping us conduct this event in Delhi.

Pic credit: Riya Singh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where can I get an abortion in Bangalore?

If you are unable to find the service, please do write to us.

Write to us at hiddenpocketsinfo@gmail.com
Call us at +918861713567

Namma Bangaluru!!!!! Namma young people staying in Bangalore!!!! Have you ever heard about Family Planning Association of India – Bangalore??
And why should you know about them? So let me introduce you to FPAI.

As you would have already noticed that FPAI stands for Family Planning Association of India. FPA India envisages sexual and reproductive health for all as a human right, including gender equality leading to alleviation of poverty, population stabilization and sustainable development. They have their presence in
Delhi, Ahmadabad, Chennai, Lucknow, Agra, Bangalore, Mumbai and few more places.To know more about them you can visit their website: www.fpaindia.org

So where do you go if you are looking for Sexual and reproductive health aid in Bangalore?
Private hospitals? Clinics? Nowhere? For those who are still struggling, for those who are suffering cause they dont know where to go, for those who have suffered a lot because of judgmental comments by the service provider, high prices, let me introduce you to FPAI – Bangalore. A place where you wont be judged. A place where you would feel safe. A place where services are affordable and a place where proper guidance and counselling would be given for Sexual and reproductive health.

The clinic is situated at City Corporation Maternity Home Complex, 1st Floor, Palace Guttahalli (Guttahalli circle), BANGALORE – 560 003. For those who have no
clue about this place, let me tell you it is very close to Le Meridien Hotel and Bangalore Golf club, Sankey Road. As you reach the complex’s gate, you would see the FPAI board
on the left side of the building. On the first floor you would find the Admin team of FPAI – Bangalore. From the gate if you walk towards the right, you would see a path on your left which would take you to the clinic (currently which is under maintenance now; till it is ready one can visit the doctor on the first floor)
The clinic operates from 9 am -5 pm.

So what is the procedure followed by FPAI – Bangalore?

– The first thing is Registration: Here the person would be asked the reason for coming to FPAI. Is for MTP (Medical Termination of Pregnancy) in other words safe abortion
or sterlization.
– Then the person is sent to the counselor where the counselor discusses what all happened and what can be done. Privacy is given utmost importance.
– Then the person is provided with consultation. It is checked whether the person is on her first trimester or second. Then she is provided with proper guidance on what
she is required to do.
– During the medication, if the person is asked to take abortion pill, she is provided with proper guidelines on how to consume them. And if minor operation is required
the she is guided accordingly. FPAI – Bangalore currently has 10 beds and one minor operation theater. And the clinic is very clean.
– One week later a follow up is done, where the person is asked to come back. This is done so as to check whether the pregnancy is completely terminated and the
person is safe.

FPAI – Bangalore also gives a counselling about Family Planning Methods. They also provide people with free contraceptives for example free condoms.
Apart from MTP, FPAI also does HIV testing, Cervical cancer test (compulsory for women above 30 years), Vasectomy, tubectomy and test for breast cancer.
The tests are done after the consent of the patient only. All the tests are done in the Laboratory.

FPAI Bangalore also has Adolescent health clinic and also does Male sterilization.

FPAI follows no refusal policy, this means nobody is refused or sent back without providing medical services and help.
Privacy and confidentiality is the most important aspect that FPAI follows.Whoever comes to the clinic needs to just register with one’s name.
This is required, to keep a count of the patients. It is not for public to examine. Let it be a married women or unmarried women, the information of the patient is
kept highly confidential. Nobody asks the patient uncomfortable questions like are you married or not? Where is the husband?
Everybody is treated with dignity at FPAI.

Namma bangaluru, I found FPAI – Bangalore very friendly and approachable. If required, kindly try utilizing this clinic. It’s friendly, non-judgmental, safe, clean and affordable.
The whole facility would cost around 500 INR. Kindly utilize this amazing clinic. Try it out and refer it to the ladies around.
Let us all promote safe abortion and health care around us.

PS:  “FPA India clinics may charge, what we prefer to call as a ‘partial user fee’ to the clients for seeking abortion or any other SRH service. This fee is very subsidized and helps the Association meet some running costs. However, all FPA India clinics also have a “NO REFUSAL POLICY”, which states that no client walking into any FPA India facility is denied any service, especially if he/she is unable to afford even the subsidized fee. Thus, poor and marginalized clients can also access quality services in FPAI clinics. Only when the facility is not equipped to provide a particular service (for example some client may need a specialized service, or admission or higher level emergency care) are clients to other facilities.”

Cosplay: Gender Bending in Nagaland through Anime

“If you don’t like your destiny, don’t accept it. Instead, have the courage to change it the way you want it to be.“ – Naruto

The term ‘Cosplay’ was coined in Japan in 1984. Cosplay is a contradiction of the words costume and play. It is an art of performance where the cosplayers dress up in costumes and accessorize themselves to look like various characters from anime, manga, video game, t.v. series etc.

Since the 1990’s there has been a rapid growth of interest in in Cosplay and since then it has grown into a massive culture where people of all ages come together and share their love and interest in manga, anime, video games and so on. Cosplay is mostly popular in countries like Japan where Anime was first created. Japan is the birthplace of Japanese animation which is known as anime. It has now spread to other countries such as France, Germany, India and many others as well.

 

Anime is special to many people because it is not only about an animation series or movie playing on the screen but it teaches a lot also about certain morals in life like for example friendships, on family, hardships, love, loyalty etc.

Dressing up in costumes, getting the hair and makeup done,  helps the cosplayers or just anyone to feel like someone else for once. They get into character and that helps them to enable themselves to act more like the character itself and helps them in their cosplay.

In India, Cosplay is mostly popular in the North-eastern states. Nagaland is one such state where people have great love for it! NAJ Cosfest is one particular event where people of all ages dress up as their favorite characters from  anime, manga, comic etc. Some of the famous characters which cosplayers display as are Naruto, Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul, Luffy from One Piece and also characters from Attack on Titans. This became an annual event with more people joining the event each year. This event is hosted by the Nagaland Anime Junkies which is short for NAJ. NAJ consists of a community of anime lovers which started off as a Facebook page in 2011. They wanted to expand it and make it bigger and which led to the organization of this event called NAJ Cosfest in 2013. Since then it has been a huge success, every year it keeps getting bigger and bigger. NAJ Cosfest welcomes people of all ages. People enjoy performances by local artists,  there are stalls where people sell merchandises from outside the country and also local works as well. Inside the event various competitions are also held where cosplayers compete with each other to win the desired titles. The winners go home with merchandises from Japan and also with cash.

People of all ages come and enjoy this event. It is a way of bringing Otakus (anime fans), gamers, comic fans together and to share their love for their interest in them with each other. This love for Cosfest helps in bringing people of all ages together from an 8 year old boy to a grown up man, sharing the same love for anime. This creates a bond which breaks the age barriers within a society. There is also cross dressing in the Cosfest where guys dress up as girls and girls dress up as boys,  breaking the gender barriers as well. This makes this event more special and a place where misfits can also fit in.

This love for the Japanese culture is taking over many countries. The love for Cosplay is also growing at a fast rate. People cosplay for the connection it gives to other people who share the same passion as theirs. Cosplay is not just dressing up in elaborate costumes and trying to look like a specific character from a comic or a manga. It is about sharing your love for a character and expressing a story.

About the Writer : Menule Chirhah

Menule Chirhah is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature in Patkai Christian College and she has a great passion in writing.

#Pune: Are buses part of Smart City initiative?

Pune, now accommodating a population of almost 3.5 million is facing increasingly acute traffic congestion. We honestly were (and are still not) prepared for the growing population, wider sprawl and increasing income in-turn increasing two-wheelers and cars on our roads.

I remember my grandmother telling me that during her youth, which was some 40 years ago, people chose houses plying on the PMPML routes. It was sad that that statement only made me laugh, I mean only 20 % of our people even use the public transit. Most of the bus stops aren’t even ready for monsoons which are in full-swing now, with many of them unable to accommodate even a dozen of people.

CURRENT STATE OF PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Whatever the state of the public buses in Pune, the credit or complaints as the case may be (should) go to the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited. To make life easy, they’re known as PMPML. The public transport service provider, they also operate in Pimpri-Chinchward, areas surrounding Pune. PMPML was formed after the merger of the Pune Municipal Transport (PMT) and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Transport (PCMT.) If people are to be believed, this was not a good deal and resulted in unhappy employers. Fun fact – the PMPML is now said to be inefficient and underperforming…but they were merged although they never got along…so, I guess were asking for it?!

In February 2008, the Union Urban Development Ministry accepted a proposal to fund 650 public buses for Pune (500) and Pimpri-Chinchwad (150). These funds come from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (you have may seen its boards on many roads across the nation.) As of today, we have almost 1400 buses with 80,000 daily commuters travelling on 282 routes. There are 11 bus depots and 20 major bus stations. All of this is run by the 8,610 staff of PMPML, of which 100 are in offices and remaining all are drivers, conductors and their helpers. Interestingly, the PMPML believes it has a share in ‘city development.’

Currently, they are dealing with the Pune Bus Rapid Transit System, popularised as the BRTS. This was the first of its kind in India, under which dedicated bus lanes were supposed to allow buses to travel quickly throughout the city. It sounds promising, but turned out to be a complete failure. I said PMPML is dealing with the BRTS because a lot of Punekars blame it (and them) for us still not having a metro. (Which may ironically be the reason they haven’t patronised the bus system, leading partly to its failure.)

BRTS was inaugurated way back in 2007, with a lot of political fanfare. A 62-crore project, traffic experts believe it to be a ‘dedicated bus service’ and not BRTS. There were (are) no pedestrian ways, cycle tracks, proper bus-stops, off-board ticketing and systems to monitor bus movements. One doesn’t need to be an expert to know these are necessities. Basically, the so-called BRTS reduced the carriage width of the road as roads had reserved lanes for buses, hence slowing down the movement of other vehicles. At one of the PMC general body meeting, the then Municipal Commissioner, Pravinsinh Pardeshi said, “No provisions were made for underpasses and pedestrian crossings.” Yet, work continued.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS – WHAT THE FUTURE (SHOULD) LOOK LIKE

Pune got its first flyover in 1998 on Karve road which went towards Paud road. Since then, we’ve never looked back. A new four-lane flyover is under construction between Shankar Maharaj Math in Chavan Nagar and Bharti Vidyapeeth in Katraj. Right, because if the issue at hand is vehicular congestion on roads, the best solution is to build more roads to allow more vehicles to ply…to intensify the traffic congestion? There have been speculations that this is an abstraction form the metro rail expansion from Swargate to Katraj.

From the last 10 years, we (well, at least some of us) have been obsessed with the metro. In 2007, we were told that “if all goes well”, we will have the first functioning metro-rail route in 3 and a half years. (India, 2007) Our PMC has done it all – identified corridors, shortlisted them, had discussions with E.Sreedharan, planned an underground metro to pass through the congested city areas, had sites inspected by the Metro Man. There have also been various versions of traffic surveys, funding patterns and costing details. Perhaps the Gods are in my favour and something (read : approvals) is stopping these glorious plans. It has not come to the notice of any of our authorities that Pune has a circular geography like London and Delhi. Hence a 1-2 line metro will not make a difference to the majority of the population. It might be needed, but is not at all adequate. A ring-road could be a much better option with circular ring-road bus routes connecting local routes. For a metro to make sense, we may need a minimum of 7-8 lines, like in London and Berlin. I am no expert, but I think this is extremely unfeasible. At least for the next 20 years.

Also, doesn’t it make more sense to work on something already existing (bus transit) than start something from scratch? New Delhi is proof that with improved bus quality and service, more of the middle-income commuters would be attracted (with sky-rocketing petrol and diesel prices.)

Another plausible solution which surprisingly hasn’t caught the attention of many is a suburban train. We have the tracks, we just need additional stations and trains. This could be up and running in just a year.  Stations could be built in Koregaon Park, Ghorpadi, Sopan Baug and St. Patrik’s Town and a few others further out where housing is cheaper. We could have a train every 10 minutes from Chinchwad to Pune Station to Koregaon Park to Magarpatta to Amanora etc. Yes, I know that not all areas are close to rail tracks, but it could still provide a fast transport system along the prevailing railroads and we could always add tracks later. Let’s fully utilise the existing rail corridor before we embark on metro lines. It is a low-hanging fruit and will save us crores of rupees.

 

Thankfully, all’s not lost and there’s still hope. PMPML is working on a business development plan (prepared by E&Y and UMTC) to ensure (continued) delivery of good service. Unlike most other plans which do not even consider the end customer, this plan is pretty inclusive and people-oriented. Through this process, ITDP has helped put together the scope of work and is a member of the review committee.

Under the Smart Cities Mission, Pune has proposed to invest 88 million USD (that’s around 600 crore rupees) in sustainable transport projects. We are being told that by utilising this money to tangible, area-based improvements, the city would be transformed and bring widespread socio-economic benefits to a large section of society.

A transit hub is also being proposed to facilitate smooth interchange between the BRTS and other buses.

In the coming 5 years, Pune aims to increase the mode share of public transport from 18% to 50% by increasing the number of buses and providing better services using Intelligent Traffic Management Systems (ITMS.) Expanding high-quality BRT network by 30 kms and improving accessibility to transit with a 75 km network of footpaths and cycle tracks are also under consideration.

Something wonderful happened in the 2016-17 budget. Half of the transportation budget was to be spent on BRT, footpaths and cycle tracks next year. From a few years now, the authorities have been spending on repairing bus-stops, buying buses and constructing footpaths. However these were done as extra-benefits are were not tied to the larger, integral part of transportation infrastructure. The major parts of the budget were reserved for ensuring convenience for those with personal vehicles.

Basically, if all this turns out as planned, we could have less than 10 minutes waiting time for all our buses and would be able to experience how easy it is to commute in our public buses.

Ultimately, if provided with hassle-free movement across the city, I’m sure we’d show our love for our red buses!

About the writer:

Aishwarya, a recent graduate in Economics and compulsive reader, writes to make sense of the world and her own self.

Can minor rape survivor access medical treatment before justice?

On 18th July, 2017 Chandigarh District Court refused to let a 10 year-old, minor rape survivor access abortion services. She was 26 weeks pregnant. Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,2017 does not allow women to abort foetuses beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy. Supreme Court directed the PGI Hospital in Chandigarh to set up a medical board to examine if it was safe to terminate the pregnancy. The 10 year minor rape survivor has entered the 27th week of pregnancy. The medical board is directed to deliver the decision by  28th July,2017.

FACTS

Let us re-look at the facts here: A 10 year-old young girl has been raped. She has been dragged from one court to another court, one hospital to another hospital and finally she is lying in PGI hospital with a medical board of 8 members who will decide if her pelvis is strong enough to deliver a child. Her body is up for examination and her narrative is up for evidence checking. Sources reveal that both abortion or pregnancy can lead to drastic consequences.

LAWS & POLICIES

Several pieces of legislations actually came in to monitor the child but they failed to provide any respite to the survivor. The MTP Act 1971, says that after 20 weeks seeks medical opinion of 2 registered practitioners to access abortion. Here is a young girl who is raped and is totally dependent on her parents and relatives to access services. Section 357 C of Criminal Amendment Act,2013 clearly provides that the hospitals shall immediately provide the free medical treatment to the victim.

These are some of legislations in place that provides for relief for rape survivors, but in such a scenario where there is a young girl who has been allegedly raped by her relative, how is one supposed to engage with these legislations? Most of these legislations look at punishing the perpetrator but what about the young girl in this case who might have to undergo severe complications and might require a much more holistic approach to justice and healing?

What could have been done better for the young girl, so that she could have approached an institutional set up and actually access better services? Can our public health system make the process easier for her? Who gets to decide if 10 year-old girl could abort a fetus which was a result of a rape? Could she actually go ahead and just get the medical treatment without engaging with the legal system?

Inspite of a public health sector which provides for provisions at different levels, we are still not able to handle the cases of minors getting raped or minors trying to access abortion services. In the Chandigarh case, it was requested to in the Supreme Court to lay down appropriate guidelines to set up a permanent medical board in each district of India for expedient termination of pregnancies in exceptional cases involving child rape survivors. But the issue is, we already have existing mechanisms at the institutional level that have been set up for helping the rape survivors. But have they really been useful or have they been utilised by the survivors?

What could have helped the girl better? 

One Stop Crisis Centers were specifically created for rape survivors so that they could access all the services. All services including abortion should have been provided to her. 2 years post Nirbhaya fund, and various studies by organisations later, we are yet to find effective One Stop Crisis centres that provide relief to the survivors. One Stop Crisis Centers in her district could have been one of the possible places she could have gone to access abortion. Could she go there alone?  It has been alleged that one of her relative had raped her, in such a scenario how would a One Stop Crisis Centre be useful for her? How many of us even know about One Stop Crisis Centers in our own districts?

If the family had brought her to the health system for help, she could have availed the medical treatment in a speedy manner under  Section 27 of POSCO Act, 2013.  But again she needed the help of a guardian. As she is a 10 year old she could have approached the Adolescent Friendly Health Clinic, which provides gynaecological services in cases of crisis in her Community Health Clinic in her district. She could have been referred to a gynaecologist and she could have suggested an abortion.  AFHCs are still not being used by adolescents.

Will one more board help?

Why are we still seeking for more institutional mechanisms when we are not able to ensure that young people are able to use the existing mechanisms without the help of adults? The 10 year-old had to run from one institution to another before she was finally placed at one of the biggest hospitals in Chandigarh. Most of the debate around this 10 year-old is about the number of weeks of her pregnancy. The courts, the hospitals, the police and the family have made her into a case study. The 10 year-old needed help and should have been able to access these existing mechanism provided in the system, if there was information, if she and her people around her knew of some of the existing mechanisms that could help her. We should have ensured that she gets medical treatment and then we could have followed up with the legal case. In our thirst to get her justice, we have been so entangled with the procedures that today in between 27th and 28th week, her life and her well beings depends on the opinions of experts.