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The hollowness of 'Development' by Varna Sri Raman
 

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  • I was 18 when I started to work in International Development. My first job was to travel to rural Rajasthan (India's dessert state) to train groups of women on the importance of using condoms. Using condoms, for these women, is revolutionary. It really is. In India - sex is about power. Not about love or pleasure - at least not for most women. Sitting in the burning plains with these women who traditionally work with red chillies, I was confronted with a deep sense of horror and hollowness. This is why. As I spoke to these women, I learnt about their lives, the lack of choices, their extreme poverty and complete lack of control over their lives. The bonds they had formed with each other through the spoken word, heads covered by colourful veils - bonds formed around pain. Physical pain. Mahe - a young girl of 20 who already had four children asked me a simple enough question -- "I know how to use it, but if I ask my husband to use it he will stuff chillies in my Vagina and I can't afford to go to hospital, what will happen to my children then?".
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