Lives and Struggles
K. Saradamoni
STEPPING OUT: LIFE AND SEXUALITY IN RURAL INDIA by Mrinal Pande Penguin India, New Delhi, 2004, 221 pp., 295.00
March 2004, volume 28, No 3

Mrinal covered five states including West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. And often we feel that we are walking alongside. Her introduction begins thus: “Imagine a spectrum, at one end of which is a mud and straw hut in Rajasthan, where an under-nourished, anaemic nineteen year old mother of three is expecting her fourth child. Married at fourteen, she became a mother at fifteen, and has since been pregnant most of the time. She knows about the need for rest and nutrition and the existence of a primary health centre (PHC)”. But for her to reach the nearest one she would have to walk for an hour and then go on a bus ride for two hours. But before embarking on the journey, she has to get permission from the family, finish all the chores at home, and “hastily swallow the leftovers”. And what awaits her at the health centre where she has gone for care and counselling? The ‘nurse bai’ informs her that the visiting doctor has left. This is not an isolated experience.

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