Life, Love, and Dirty Diapers

The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Esther Duflo

Today is another name I don’t recognize, but I think in this series I actually find those the most fun because I get to learn about new people. So let’s dive in and take a look at Esther Duflo.

  • She’s an economist.
  • She teaches at MIT (Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics).
  • Her research looks at developing countries.
  • She has worked hard to advance using field experiments.
  • She is the director (and one of the founders) of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, which seeks to reduce poverty by having science to help inform policy.
  • She often focuses on the very specific and studies it in randomized trial experiments. Examples include “If schoolkids could get their uniforms for free, would attendance go up?” and “What’s an effective way to reward mothers for immunizing their babies?”
  • Speculation has it that she will win a Nobel Prize in the future.
  • She’s met with several big shots: Bill Gates, the head of Facebook, and the head of Amazon for example.

I think she is definitely influential. She is slowly changing the way we address poverty. It may not be widespread yet, but I think the work she is doing now will be in the future. This is really revolutionary work if we want to end poverty (which most people would say we do) because her work focuses on trying to find out what actually works. If we want to end poverty, her work is going to be crucial. Her influence will come in the future, as she is really making this a popular idea. It seems like such common sense – let’s test what actually makes a difference, but yet before her, it wasn’t really happening. I think that if we ever want to end poverty we need to pay attention to the work she is doing and we need to pay attention to how she is doing it. This is world changing stuff, mark my words. And it will have all started with Esther Duflo.

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Rape in India

Rape is something that is treated pretty poorly in a lot of countries. It’s something that is looked down on with shame in many cultures.

Today I want to take a look at rape in India. According to at least one source, India is on it’s way to becoming the rape capital of the world. I warn you that’s what up ahead is not pretty or anything like that. I’m not a fan of skipping things because they’re hard to read, but I want you to be forewarned what’s coming up.

In almost every place in the world rape goes underreported. It seems to be particularly bad in India (though at this time, I don’t have comparisons, but if I run across them, I will compare them), estimates for India are that only 1 in 69  are actually reported and that a woman is raped every hour in India.That means the number of rapes in India are much, much worse. On top of that, of the reported cases, only 20 percent of them actually get convictions. It’s sad because it means so many women are going without justice.

And it seems that little can be done. Women get pulled into cars and gang raped in the cars for 2 or 3 hours. Isn’t that horrible? It seems awful and terrifying to me. One woman was gang raped and then lit on fire.

Equally awful is that incest rape is on the rise and many experts feel these are actually the kind of rapes that happen most often in India, but like others, are underreported. Child rapes are on the rise too, as one in four of the reported rapes are girls less than 16 years old. Though these, like all others, are underreported.

Delhi is particularly bad – so much so that it is coming to be known as the Rape Capital of India, because one quarter of all rapes in India occur there. The statistics work out to a woman being raped every 18 hours in Delhi alone. Apparently, women who migrate from the north-east are raped more and more often in Delhi as well because of underlying discrimination against them. They even tried to get these women to abide by a dress code to “prevent” these rapes.

And often times, rape damages a woman for good socially. There is so much stigma surrounding it in India that a woman often can’t get married after being raped. In fact, one person convicted of rape even used this as a reason to propose before his sentencing, hoping if she accepted her would get a lighter sentence. How twisted is that?

Other attitudes effect victims. There are often very strict ideas surrounding sex and privacy (the idea that this is a family issue and it shouldn’t go beyond that). If you get justice in court, you are often outcast from your family and society. There is also this idea that a woman shouldn’t work outside the home and that when women do this, it “makes” them a target.

Unfortunately, it seems that certain people get a free pass. After a woman said she was raped by soldiers in the army, a protest formed calling for their arrests (which didn’t happen – the government blamed it on the side they were fighting, it happened in the Kashmir area). In a separate situation, one woman committed suicide after no one took action when she was raped at a police station.

And the system is not well equipped to handle it either. The victim has to prove they were penetrated, which can be a hard thing to do. They used to do a “finger test” to see if a woman had been raped. I don’t want to get into the graphic details, but it’s traumatizing and unnecessary. Fortunately, they’re getting rid of this. They’re also getting rid of labeling what a person is wearing as attractive or not, instead choosing that they should only note whether it’s torn or not. The system tries to gather evidence, which is good, but they often forget there’s a person who has just been traumatized. They also recently cut funding meant for victims. The defense will often try to attack the victim as well. Like many places, their laws are good, but they’re not really executed well. However, they have made an effort to come down harder on child rapes.

But there are people working on it. For instance, a charity is releasing an app that sends a text message to five people, including the police, with your location, so that hopefully someone can come and stop it.

For more info, this book might be helpful

I hope you learned something interesting. I know it’s sad, but the discussion needs to be had.

Sources

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