Aamaar Shastha, Aamaar Satta (2009)
Translation: My Body, My Self
Our Bodies, Ourselves Project
Two organizations, Sanlaap (India) and Manavi (United States), collaborated on the Bangla adaptation of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Published as a booklet in 2009, it is based on two sections of Our Bodies, Ourselves: sexual health and self-care.
Both Sanlaap and Manavi have impressive records implementing culturally and linguistically sensitive programs for women and girls in their communities. As a result, the booklet integrates input from rural and urban communities and activist leaders in the Indian state of West Bengal and neighboring Bangladesh, and responds to the specific needs of Bengali women and girls within a broader social, cultural and political context.
The booklet provides evidence-based information on a range of issues, including those particular to the South Asian context. Examples include: skin whitening, which has gained cross-class and cross-gender popularity in India due to perceptions of fairness being equated with affluence and beauty; nutrition, in response to an influx of high-calorie junk food in the Indian market due to increased purchasing power; and the dynamics of same sex relationships and safe sex practices — a first for health information in Bangla.
“We want to talk so much about our bodies and sexuality, but we don’t know where to go with our questions. [This booklet] would give us that opportunity.” – Community member
With 1,500 copies in print, the booklet is distributed in rural and urban West Bengal and Bangladesh, via an extensive network of NGOs, school libraries, panchayats (village councils), health providers and educators. Sanlaap is also connecting with policy makers. Both the West Bengal state health minister and chairperson of the State Commission for Women have received copies of the booklet and are interested in increasing access to its contents.
The booklet, which is available both on this website (see below) and on the website Abasar, has been viewed over 50,000 times, primarily by people in Bangladesh.
The OBOS Global Initiative provided extensive support on this project, most notably with start-up planning, as well as fundraising and promotion. Post publication, OBOS helped increase access to this resource by making it available online for free.
Shamita Das Dasgupta, co-founder of Manavi, attended OBOS’s 40th anniversary symposium in 2011 and took part in a panel on challenges to autonomy and activism. She is the author of four books, most recently “Mothers for Sale” (2009) and “Outsourcing Life: Globalization and Transnational Surrogacy in India” (2014).
Content Available Online
The full Bangla adaptation is available online (PDF).
Read the preface (in English)
The following chapters in Bangla are available in PDF format.
How to Obtain Print Copies
For information on obtaining print copies, please visit the Sanlaap website.
Sanlaap and Manavi: Community Action & Activism
Together, Sanlaap and Manavi have more than 50 years of expertise in activism on the health and human rights of South Asian women and girls. Manavi has focused on violence within the South Asian immigrant community in the United States. Sanlaap has worked extensively on the stigmatization of sex workers and their children in India and has received two national awards in recognition of its commitment to women’s human rights.
Sanlaap relies on allies – government, law enforcement, judiciary and local panchayats (village councils) – to implement an outreach strategy that straddles advocacy and direct health and legal services to sex workers and their families.
The organization runs multiple city-based shelter homes for girls rescued from prostitution, bonded labor and sexual abuse; organizes child protection units through education and training programs in villages where trafficking is rampant; and, as gatekeeper to one of the most notorious human trafficking routes, works with NGOs in Bangladesh and Nepal for the safe repatriation of rescued girls.
Manavi is the first U.S. organization to address the needs of South Asian women survivors of violence. Its programs include direct services to survivors, grassroots mobilizing, and partnering with providers and law enforcement. The organization uses an innovative intervention method that combines counseling practices of the West with traditional culturally acceptable techniques, and routinely publishes journals and informational resources in different Indian languages.
Manavi’s team can also be found at local community events, festivals and celebrations that are at the heart of South Asian life, providing materials and messages advocating for the right of South Asian women to live without violence or fear.
Email: hq [AT] sanlaapindia.org
Address: 38 B Mahanirban Road, Kolkata 700029 India
Phone: 91-33-24653429 / 91-33-24662977
Sanlaap also has a presence in North America, via Sanlaap North America. Read more about their partnership to address human trafficking across geographical borders.
Email: manavi [AT] manavi.org or use the “Contact Us” form at the Manavi website
Address: P.O. Box 3103 New Brunswick, N.J. 08903
Phone (Manavi’s 24-hour hotline): 732-435-1414