By Almas Shamim

How often have we heard a female friend or a colleague say this? You might have heard this when there was a late meeting scheduled in the office, a farewell party for a colleague or a group of students meeting to finish some group work assigned to them. The going-home-before-dark is all too common a practice, so common that it might have gone unnoticed by some.

What IS, after all, the relation between “dark” and “women”? Why do women get to hear this advice so commonly even though men/ boys find it way easier to traverse their way around the world in the dark? Do women really have some biological abnormalities that make them breathe less effectively when the sun goes down? Or do they automatically turn into statues at sunset?

The usual rhetoric that we hear is of safety. Didn’t the Nirbhaya tragedy strike in the dark? Aren’t the women who stay out at night, usually “those loose charactered women” and so it’s okay to harass and abuse them? Women who choose to be out on the streets at night, whether for work or for leisure are, in a way, accepting that they DON’T want to feel safe. They are admitting that they have a “loose character”, whatever it means.  In a way, any woman out at night is “asking for it” and hence all other women who “do not want to ask for it” should remain indoors.Of course, no such warped logic exists for boys/ men.

Just as we educate our girls, even though there are still pockets in our society which believe that education can corrupt girls’ minds; just as we have begun to embrace our daughters choice in marriage, even though it is still not acceptable by all- why aren’t we also telling our girls to go out freely and walk the streets at night? Women being out after dark will continue to be taboo as long as we keep it as an exception. One girl seen out after 8 pm may be targeted, two girls seen out after 8 pm may be looked down upon, but just go on increasing the number of girls out on the street…at point it would become absolutely normal.…

Women are half of this world population. They should also be half of the street population- in all places, at all times. The best way in which streets, nights and darkness can be made safe for women is by “reclaiming the street”- by keeping the presence of women on the roads a norm and not an exception. Of course, police patrolling, cctv cameras are all legit and absolutely essential demands. But, it goes without saying that no change is truly possible without a change in mindset. To realize, understand and accept that your daughter has as much of a right on the street as your daughter, that your female students have as much a right to return to the hostel at any time as your male students, that girls are only as desirous of being “attacked” as boys- is a change that we need to see. It is this collective change of mindset alone that can bring women out on the streets- thus, enabling many more to join them.

“Reclaiming the street” should be more than just an event, more than just a movement of a few- it should be the way things are every day, everywhere. 

Almas Shamim is a public health specialist with a great interest in sexual and reproductive health and rights, and feminism among Muslim women. She currently works for an international humanitarian aid organization in New Delhi

Dr. Anindita Ray

Protein is quite a popular nutrient in our country.  Ask any individual in India about his choice of food, the answer, most often will be a dish containing meat or fish, for a non-vegetarian and paneer, for a vegetarian. From a very young age we are taught that proteins help us to grow big and strong. It helps us by providing the raw materials (amino acids) for the structural make-up and also plays a significant role in carrying out mechanical functions.In fact, from the hair on our head to the nails on our toe- everything is made up of protein molecule of different types. However, strangely, the Indian population does not scientifically analyse the exact requirement of Protein which is usually calculated based on several factors. The age of a person, sex, physical activities, physiological status of the body are only some of them.

Majority in the Indian population believe that the daily diet we eat provides the required protein. Unfortunately, it is a myth that most of us have grown up with. A large chunk of the population does not even know how much protein is required every day. National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), suggests an intake of about 0.8-1.0gm /kg ideal body weight of Protein for normal adults. With Indian diet being primarily vegetarian and cereal based it is heavier on carbohydrates and fats rather than proteins. Moreover due to the low purchasing power of the general people combined with the ignorance, protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) is the most prevalent nutritional deprivation disease of this country.

A General Consumer Survey (PRODIGY) has brought to light striking observations regarding the protein intake in India. It indicates that 9 out of 10 people in India consumed inadequate amount of protein. Several other studies have also shown thatprotein deficiency is increasing due to the switch to ‘convenience’ foods that are high in carbohydrates and simple sugars and low in protein content, consequently causing an increase in lifestyle problems. By 2020, India is anticipated to be the leading country in metabolic syndrome and lifestyle problems because of this.

Thus, the disastrous picture of our country is that there is a prevalent protein deficiency among almost all sections- in the “deprived” because they do not get enough to eat and in the “have alls” who choose faulty convenience and fast foods. So it is time that we all pay the much needed attention to the protein intake and give this nutrient its due respect.

If one is not able to meet the requirement of Protein from daily diet, then one can consider a good Protein supplement as part of regular food. 

Dr. Anindita Ray (Chakravarti) is an Assistant Professor & HOD, Dept. of Food & Nutrition, Maharani Kasiswari College, University of Calcutta

Fourth most common neurological disorder affecting all age group, hallmark of which is recurrent and uncontrolled jerking movements of whole body or any specific part.

In easy terms, epilepsy is abnormality in brain wiring that occur during brain development or some physical or emotional stress.

Does your kid or anyone in the family suffer from any one below mentioned signs and symptoms?

• Brief loss of consciousness

• Muscular rigidity

• Clenching of teeth

• Jerky movements of whole body or any particular part

• Along with any such accompanying symptoms like involuntary urination and/or stool, rolling eyes upwards, bending head back, frothing during attack etc.

Causes of epilepsy:

• Low oxygen to brain during birth

• Any infection in brain

• Injury to brain

• Brain tumors

• Emotional instability of mother during pregnancy

• Abnormal brain development

• High blood pressure during pregnancy

• High and prolonged untreated fever

Homoeopathic Approach

As by now, we all know that ‘Homoeopathy treats the man in disease, not disease in man’. For epilepsy, homoeopathy has wide range of medicines with wonderful results like:

• Art. v. – It’s the prime remedy used by homoeopaths to treat epilepsy in children and girls near puberty.

• Cuprum met – It’s given in condition where attack comes with blueness, which starts in fingers and toes.

• Stramonium – It is the remedy having fright and fear in its base in connection with epilepsy.

• Zinc. met – It is prescribed when there is violent restlessness, pale face especially in children and generally occur post skin treatment.

• Etc.

Now, as we see that we have mentioned very few remedies indicated for epilepsy. In homoeopathy, we have numerous medicines to counter epilepsy but they need to be prescribed with detailed evaluation of patient. Every patient of epilepsy might require different medicine as per the cause and how disease is presenting itself.

We need to search for the root cause present in history. That is why a classical homoeopath relies very much on detailed case taking.

Please do not buy any homoeopathic medicine, tincture, patent or combination over the counter for epilepsy. Do take opinion of a classical homoeopath before any medication or self-medication.

Dr. Puneet Arora and Dr. Kritika Arora are Classical Homoeopaths practicing in Delhi especially for special children suffering from Autism, Cerebral palsy, mental retardation etc with emphasis on other illnesses too under roof of Urjaa Homoeo Clinic and they can be communicated over Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with twitter Handle: @DrPuneetArora1 and facebook Link: .

By Almas Shamim

Have you ever had to pee in a public toilet? Maybe one of those sulabhshauchalays or a toilet in a hotel or a café? How would you rate your experience?

While some lucky ones may have had good experiences, the majority would have had to face some unsightly vision and a stink that could kill. Yes, I’m talking about the pee and poop that we leave behind in the public toilets as if no one would be using it after us. This pee and poop accumulates over hours and people who wish to use the toilet have one of two options- either use the same dirty toilet, struggling to keep the nauseating obnoxious stink out of their nose or just ‘hold’ their urine in their bladders, waiting for some cleaner place to urinate… Both these options are, unfortunately, very unhealthy.

Using an unhygienic toilet, which may also have drops of urine on the toilet seat, raises the chance of acquiring urinary tract infections. This may manifest as lower abdominal pain, pain while urinating, frequent urination, inability to hold urine (wetting), fever and vomiting. Sometimes the infection could be fungal AND bacterial, causing severe itching on the inner aspect of your thighs (parts which come in contact with a western toilet seat) and groins. Both the conditions require treatment and can sometimes be protracted. The other side of unclean toilets would be that some may just opt out of going to the loo until they find a cleaner toilet. This retention of urine is very unhealthy and is also associated with urinary tract infections. (Not to mention the sheer discomfort of holding pee!)

It, therefore, becomes very important for us to urinate timely and in clean toilets. It is obvious that such cleanliness cannot be maintained without the will of the govt and the authorities that manage the offices and hotels where there are common public toilets. However, it will really help if people become a bit more active and take the initiative in forcing authorities to provide better sanitation facilities. The importance of a functional flush, water- both in the flush as well as in the tap are crucial, the presence of electricity and a light bulb are also very important, not to mention the presence of toilet paper and dustbins.

 In addition to taking up matters with our office authorities, it will also be great if we show a bit more sensitivity in the way we ourselves leave the toilet for next person. Do we flush properly? Do we wipe the toilet seat clean and dry? Do we flush the soiled toilet paper properly? Do we throw other plastic waste and sanitary pads in the dustbin? To ensure that others follow these instructions, small bright reminders must also be placed on the toilet doors and walls.

Here, leaving you with a few images that can be used as reminders in your office toilets:


Almas Shamim is a public health specialist with a great interest in sexual and reproductive health and rights, and feminism among Muslim women. She currently works for an international humanitarian aid organization in New Delhi

By Almas Shamim

What if you were told your best friend was HIV positive?

What if you were told YOU were HIV positive?

Would your reactions and emotions to the above two questions be the same? Would you feel equally confused and shocked at the two disclosures? Would you judge your friend and yourself using the same measures?


These and many more questions become very relevant when we talk about the discrimination that HIV positive people across the world face. The stigma associated with being HIV+ keeps many ‘positive people’ from disclosing their status to even their friends and family members. Disclosure can bring major changes in the way people treat you. There have been instances where ‘positive’ school kids have been expelled from school, ‘positive’ employees have been suspended from jobs and ‘positive’ daughters-in-law have been thrown out from their husbands’ homes.

The recent statement by Charlie Sheen, the actor from the American television series “Two and a Half Men”, famous for his sexist remarks on women, on his HIV positive status, drew mixed comments from viewers. While some came out in support of the actor’s brave move of opening up to the audiences about his status, some others criticized him for being so late in doing so, yet others simply hating on the fact that he is HIV positive. It is this ‘hatred’ for HIV positive people which is worrisome.

The fear that we may be discriminated against forces many to never even consider getting tested. Some of us would rather get a disease and die than find out if we have an infection and try to curb it. Some others amongst us would make the effort to get tested but if found positive, would not even care to inform it to their sexual partners. Some others, who may get tested and inform their families about their status, still face discrimination on a daily basis by people who refuse to sit beside them, work with them or even talk to them. Such behavior has a huge impact on the mental well being of the patient and may even adversely affect the positive person’s will power to continue on HIV treatment: All this only due to the fear of being discriminated against.

We, as responsible citizens, should remember that the mark of a truly developed society is not just in making a treatment available to the patients, but in ensuring that these patients are accepted as whole beings and treated with the same dignity and respect that every other individual expects. We must make ourselves aware of the transmission pattern of these highly stigmatized diseases and take preventive measures against them but we must ensure that by adopting these preventive means, we aren’t in any way encroaching upon the rights of another person and not discriminating against the people who have already acquired these infections/ diseases. This will not only help in building  cohesive and caring society, but also, ensure that HIV infected people adhere to their treatment and be active members in preventing the transmission of the infection.

Leaving you with two interesting videos on HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination.

Almas Shamim is a public health specialist with a great interest in sexual and reproductive health and rights, and feminism among Muslim women. She currently works for an international humanitarian aid organization in New Delhi