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Rita Banerji

India is home to 1/3 of the World's Child Brides

I am an American, studying Women's and Gender Studies. This semester in a class called Issues in Women's Studies, Non-western focus I was assigned India as my country to research. In my research I found such disparities between the majority, rural women and the small minority of middle to upper class women.

One of the more memorable accounts was of a woman who was pregnant, homeless and had no one to turn to. Last July she gave birth on the streets of New Delhi in the rain and dirt. She died three days later. Her baby was rescued by a good Samaritan. No one helped her even though it was a very busy street with shops and vendors and pedestrians. Women are discarded in large numbers in India and other women will not help for fear that they too will be shunned or worse.

I believe if women could somehow overcome the fear of repercussion and embrace and stand up for one another change could occur gradually. As you stated, when cultural norms and religion go hand in hand change is difficult to employ. Education is the key in creating value in the women of India, as well as women in other patriarchal societies. Unfortunately rural education for poverty stricken women is not a priority.

A question for you regarding the health care system in India. During my research I discovered numerous reports of excessive numbers of health care workers absent on a daily basis and government run clinics being closed during the day because of the absent workers. Apparently, the health workers are paid whether they show up or not. Have you seen or heard this also?

The maternal mortality rate of India's women is staggering. It seemed to me in my research that lack of available facilities and the great distance rural women would need to travel to take a chance on finding an open facility impact the mmr. I do realize there is no one reason for the high mmr, I would like here your take on how much of an impact the closed facilities has on the rates.

I was also concerned about the stats on the number of self proclaimed doctors who have had little or no formal medical training. Is there an agency that regulates doctors?