Lalita Panicker

Lalita Panicker leads the opinion section at Hindustan Times. Over a 33-year career, she has specialised in gender issues, reproductive health, child rights, politics and social engineering.

Articles by Lalita Panicker

The limitations of the new trafficking bill

Activists have pointed out several problems which could arise if the bill is passed in its present form
The draft bill comes at the right time as there has been an increase in trafficking cases during the pandemic (Shutterstock)
The draft bill comes at the right time as there has been an increase in trafficking cases during the pandemic (Shutterstock)
Updated on Jan 08, 2022 06:47 PM IST
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We need to create safe spaces for adolescents

The National Coalition Advocating for Adolescent Concerns has sought that investments should be made to improve educational access, quality of education, and infrastructural amenities such as toilets for girls
Laws like the one proposed can only work in conjunction with other enabling factors. A wider discussion on the legislation is vital to take into consideration, among other things, all the issues that adolescents face so that they are not discriminated against when the bill comes into force. (Sushil Kumar/HTPhoto)
Laws like the one proposed can only work in conjunction with other enabling factors. A wider discussion on the legislation is vital to take into consideration, among other things, all the issues that adolescents face so that they are not discriminated against when the bill comes into force. (Sushil Kumar/HTPhoto)
Updated on Dec 25, 2021 07:28 PM IST
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Lalita Panicker, Consulting Editor, Views picks her favourite read of 2021

Wole Soyinka’s new book, set in a country very much like his native Nigeria, mercilessly cuts through the venal politics of the land with its deadly cocktail of religion, murder, opportunism, sloth, amorality and superstition
Wole Soyinka’s first novel in 48 years shows his incomparable prose has only got better with age. (HT Team)
Wole Soyinka’s first novel in 48 years shows his incomparable prose has only got better with age. (HT Team)
Published on Dec 25, 2021 03:13 AM IST
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The dark side of Indian marriages: Physical abuse

Of the women respondents across 14 states and Union Territories, 30% justified being beaten by their husbands under “certain circumstances”
Very few have economic independence or societal support (not even from their parents), and they are worried about their children’s fate if they file a complaint (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Very few have economic independence or societal support (not even from their parents), and they are worried about their children’s fate if they file a complaint (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Dec 11, 2021 05:52 PM IST
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The plight of acid attack victims in India

Many of the survivors suffer from severe mental trauma as they are shunned due to their disfigurement. Jobs are not easy to get as appearances matter to many employers. Even homes on rent are denied to survivors
Rehabilitation of the victims and providing them education and life skills are crucial to their being able to reclaim their lives (Sanjeev Verma//HT)
Rehabilitation of the victims and providing them education and life skills are crucial to their being able to reclaim their lives (Sanjeev Verma//HT)
Updated on Nov 27, 2021 09:36 PM IST
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The importance of grief counselling for children

The government must study best practices on the issue of grief counselling from across the world, initiate projects using available resources, and build on this in partnership with experts and civil society organisations
The surviving parent is often so preoccupied with basic issues of survival that the child’s emotional trauma goes unattended (AFP)
The surviving parent is often so preoccupied with basic issues of survival that the child’s emotional trauma goes unattended (AFP)
Updated on Nov 13, 2021 10:42 PM IST
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How to increase and retain more women in STEM

It is clear that to increase and retain more women in STEM, institutional the leadership in science needs to understand what might be going wrong and bring in diversity experts to correct gender imbalances.
The Australian Academy of Science (AAS) has come up with a report on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women in the STEM workforce throughout the Asia-Pacific region. This report captures the lived experiences of women and highlights that essential gains in equality may be lost if action is not taken now. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The Australian Academy of Science (AAS) has come up with a report on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women in the STEM workforce throughout the Asia-Pacific region. This report captures the lived experiences of women and highlights that essential gains in equality may be lost if action is not taken now. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Oct 30, 2021 06:59 PM IST
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Gender equality: Why we must involve men

While many institutions engage women’s groups to hold workshops on women’s empowerment and rights, isn’t it time that men’s groups were also given a larger platform?
Showcasing and promoting the work of such organisations is important, and much can be learned from their experiences (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Showcasing and promoting the work of such organisations is important, and much can be learned from their experiences (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Updated on Oct 16, 2021 08:13 PM IST
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The vulnerability of the boy child

Many cases involving boys are unreported and unaddressed, according to prominent NGOs working in the field
Boys are less likely to report that they have been violated either due to ignorance or fear of being considered weak (Shutterstock)
Boys are less likely to report that they have been violated either due to ignorance or fear of being considered weak (Shutterstock)
Updated on Oct 02, 2021 07:37 PM IST
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The grim reality of women prisoners in India

There are several ways to help women prisoners — a liberal application of bail; easier access to legal help; special fast-track courts and rehabilitation facilities
According to the National Alliance on Prison Reforms, which deals with prisoner rights, the main problem is bail (Shutterstock)
According to the National Alliance on Prison Reforms, which deals with prisoner rights, the main problem is bail (Shutterstock)
Updated on Sep 20, 2021 01:08 PM IST
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Hear the voices of the women of Afghanistan

The world owes it to the thousands of women who have chosen to stay in Afghanistan, and those who have no choice but to stay, to use all the leverage it can to ensure that Afghan women don’t become just a footnote in the violent politics of the strife-torn country
Many women’s groups believe that the United Nations and other human rights organisations can push much harder on the issue (AFP)
Many women’s groups believe that the United Nations and other human rights organisations can push much harder on the issue (AFP)
Updated on Sep 04, 2021 06:40 PM IST
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India needs more women in the police

More women police personnel, proactive gender sensitisation across the force and the localities they work in, and taking policing out of the station to women, hold the key to a safer environment for women
There has been a 16% increase in women personnel entering the police force between 2019 and the beginning of 2020 (Santosh Kumar /Hindustan Times)
There has been a 16% increase in women personnel entering the police force between 2019 and the beginning of 2020 (Santosh Kumar /Hindustan Times)
Updated on Aug 21, 2021 04:11 PM IST
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Indian foreign policy needs more women

Whenever India has undertaken big foreign policy engagements, very often, women experts and diplomats are conspicuous by their absence
There is a misconception that women tend to veer away from what are described as hard issues of security and trade and focus on relatively soft issues
There is a misconception that women tend to veer away from what are described as hard issues of security and trade and focus on relatively soft issues
Published on Aug 07, 2021 06:16 PM IST
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Needed: Gender inclusivity in the Indian armed forces

While many senior male Army officers say that, in principle, they are not against more women coming into the forces and even moving into combat roles, they cite several reasons why this is still impractical
In the 1.4-million-strong Indian Army, women constitute a minuscule 0.56%, while the corresponding figure is 1.08% in the Air Force and 6.5% in the Navy. (PTI)
In the 1.4-million-strong Indian Army, women constitute a minuscule 0.56%, while the corresponding figure is 1.08% in the Air Force and 6.5% in the Navy. (PTI)
Updated on Jul 24, 2021 08:17 PM IST
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Caring for the vulnerable: Transgender persons

There has to be a concerted effort by state governments to set up camps for transpeople where they can at least be guided through the vaccination process.
Vashi based NGO with NMMC has managed to get transgender persons vaccinated at Vashi in Navi Mumbai, July 9. (HT PHOTO)
Vashi based NGO with NMMC has managed to get transgender persons vaccinated at Vashi in Navi Mumbai, July 9. (HT PHOTO)
Published on Jul 10, 2021 08:06 PM IST
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Across religions, include women in the clergy

There is potential in women priests from all religions becoming game-changers in gender inclusion. They must have a greater role in the rituals that govern all our lives from birth to death.
The importance of women priests in all religions cannot be overstated (Pardeep Pandit/HT Photo)
The importance of women priests in all religions cannot be overstated (Pardeep Pandit/HT Photo)
Updated on Jun 26, 2021 06:23 PM IST
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Post-Covid-19, women and the green economy

Across the world, gender is becoming a significant factor in climate policies. Even as India has done well in recognising the climate crisis and working towards meeting its Paris obligations, it has been relatively slow in recognising the gender dimension of climate
Agriculture will remain a key sector in the post-pandemic phase (Sakib Ali /Hindustan Times)
Agriculture will remain a key sector in the post-pandemic phase (Sakib Ali /Hindustan Times)
Published on Jun 12, 2021 06:45 PM IST
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Elderly women need better care and support

Elderly women need easy access to home health care, access to essentials preferably through home delivery, and above all compassion and care from their families and State systems
Though there was a realisation, well before the advent of the virus, that we have to plan for a geriatric population, this is not fully understood by either doctors or caregivers, few of whom have specialised in this field (Sunil Ghosh / Hindustan Times)
Though there was a realisation, well before the advent of the virus, that we have to plan for a geriatric population, this is not fully understood by either doctors or caregivers, few of whom have specialised in this field (Sunil Ghosh / Hindustan Times)
Published on May 29, 2021 07:43 PM IST
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Address the needs of domestic workers

The government must set in motion steps to fast-track registration of domestic workers across the country so that it can keep track of them as they move to different geographies
With the advent of the virus, they were and still are viewed by employers as carriers of the virus, leading to substantial loss of employment for part-timers (Shutterstock)
With the advent of the virus, they were and still are viewed by employers as carriers of the virus, leading to substantial loss of employment for part-timers (Shutterstock)
Published on May 15, 2021 06:54 PM IST
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In Covid times, caring for pregnant women

Given this dire situation, state governments have to give the care of pregnant women greater attention.s
Many pregnant women in India cannot go for check-ups as there is no transport to take them to health centres, especially in remote areas (Diwakar Prasad/ Hindustan Times)
Many pregnant women in India cannot go for check-ups as there is no transport to take them to health centres, especially in remote areas (Diwakar Prasad/ Hindustan Times)
Published on May 01, 2021 08:47 PM IST
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Protect the rights of women migrant workers

The response from most states to these recommendations has been slow to non-existent. Many quarantine centres and shelters for migrant women are not safe, nor are they safe on the long road home where they have neither facilities nor physical security.
The government’s draft National Policy on Migrant Workers has largely overlooked the specific needs and concerns of migrant women (REUTERS)
The government’s draft National Policy on Migrant Workers has largely overlooked the specific needs and concerns of migrant women (REUTERS)
Published on Apr 17, 2021 06:23 PM IST
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Seeking support, denying representation

f parties want the support of women voters, then they owe it to women to create enabling conditions for them to progress through the political system and have a say in political decision-making
Yet, the scenario at the local government level is very different in all these states, especially Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where women are coming to the fore and bridging the gender gap (REUTERS)
Yet, the scenario at the local government level is very different in all these states, especially Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where women are coming to the fore and bridging the gender gap (REUTERS)
Published on Apr 03, 2021 07:36 PM IST
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ByLalita Panicker

End the silence on the abuse of the male child

It is silence that emboldens the perpetrator. Boys have to be told by trusted adult figures that admitting to abuse is not a sign of weakness or taken to mean that they were complicit. It is time to end the silence on the abuse of the male child.
The male child who has suffered sexual abuse may end up with psychological problems, trauma, depression, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, and a tendency towards violence. We rarely speak of these issues, even though they have a bearing on male violence against women in later life. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The male child who has suffered sexual abuse may end up with psychological problems, trauma, depression, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, and a tendency towards violence. We rarely speak of these issues, even though they have a bearing on male violence against women in later life. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Published on Mar 20, 2021 05:53 PM IST
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Can Covid-19 open doors for working women?

The Start-up India and Skill India schemes should target women much more aggressively now. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose words have proved transformational in many areas, should use his popular radio broadcast, Mann ki Baat, to emphasis the need to get women back into the workforce and make the workplace more conducive to those already in it.
Women labourers work at a site under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Ajmer, 2020 (PTI)
Women labourers work at a site under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Ajmer, 2020 (PTI)
Updated on Mar 07, 2021 08:17 PM IST
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Incentivise health workers on the ground

Even if the remuneration is called an honorarium rather than a salary, state governments must now consider providing Asha workers with the job security that other medical professionals get
During the pandemic, many were given a very short period of training on how to handle the deadly virus and its aftermath (Yogendra Kumar/HT PHOTO)
During the pandemic, many were given a very short period of training on how to handle the deadly virus and its aftermath (Yogendra Kumar/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Feb 21, 2021 07:14 AM IST
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Make public transport safe for women

Public spaces and transport should be a major focus so that women are able to fully participate in the workforce without any fear of violence
There has been an earlier suggestion that cities should promote the presence of hawkers in public areas as this would ensure greater street activity and, thus, improve safety for women on their way to and from home. (Burhaan Kinu / Hindustan Times)
There has been an earlier suggestion that cities should promote the presence of hawkers in public areas as this would ensure greater street activity and, thus, improve safety for women on their way to and from home. (Burhaan Kinu / Hindustan Times)
Updated on Feb 07, 2021 06:44 AM IST
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Focusing on women with disabilities

Government schemes, which have been a lifeline for so many women in these trying times, must be responsive to the needs of women with disabilities. For a start, the government could use its robust grassroots systems with its health workers to create awareness in families about the need to not compromise on health and education for women with disabilities.
In India, many women in general and those with disabilities in particular have to face poverty, poor health conditions, little or no income, lower education levels and isolation. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
In India, many women in general and those with disabilities in particular have to face poverty, poor health conditions, little or no income, lower education levels and isolation. (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jan 24, 2021 06:25 AM IST
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Agri-reforms must focus on women farmers

Women have been part of the agrarian crisis for a very long time, though largely overlooked. Women farmers need access to all aspects of the sector from technical training and pricing to marketing and finances
The pandemic has left women farmers even more economically vulnerable, and added the burden of caring for out-of-school children and the sick and elderly. Covid-19 has also decreased remittances to women farmers left at home. With more migrants coming home, there is also greater demand on the land, putting the tenuous hold of women on land in greater jeopardy. (Getty Images)
The pandemic has left women farmers even more economically vulnerable, and added the burden of caring for out-of-school children and the sick and elderly. Covid-19 has also decreased remittances to women farmers left at home. With more migrants coming home, there is also greater demand on the land, putting the tenuous hold of women on land in greater jeopardy. (Getty Images)
Published on Jan 09, 2021 08:41 PM IST
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Covid-19 has led to a rise in child marriages

With so much uncertainty about when schools will reopen, there is every likelihood of girls not returning to school and this increases the danger of their being married early. Without the safety net of schools, the girl child being forced into marriage is cut off from any possible communication with a teacher or counselor.
The(HTPhoto)
The(HTPhoto)
Updated on Dec 26, 2020 07:59 PM IST
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For women, Mumbai holds a promise

A chapter “Gender, Special Groups and Social Equity” in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s revised Draft Development Plan, 2034 focuses on how to make the commercial capital friendlier for women in several crucial ways
The skill development centres are proposed to be in prominent areas next to busy markets, railway stations or other public institutions so that women do not have to navigate lonely and unsafe passages while on their way to these centres(Satish Bate/HT Photo)
The skill development centres are proposed to be in prominent areas next to busy markets, railway stations or other public institutions so that women do not have to navigate lonely and unsafe passages while on their way to these centres(Satish Bate/HT Photo)
Updated on Dec 12, 2020 09:28 PM IST
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Monday, January 17, 2022