Saturday, January 4, 2014

Day 6 - The Villages

For the first time since our arrival, I finished dinner and did not feel like I needed to crawl up to my bed immediately and crash.  This was due to a long nap that I took after lunch between three and five. One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to strive for balance in my life.  This is especially hard when travelling.  There is so much internal pressure to not waste a moment.  There is even more pressure for that here since we have so much work to do in relatively little time.  When not enjoying India or doing research, there is always my own work that I need to be doing on my capstone project for my MPH.  A two hour nap seemed luxurious and something to feel guilty over, but I clearly needed it.
Of course we didn’t end up doing focus groups with the midwives today, but we did some really interesting interviews.  First we headed out to the villages for the first time.  By the villages I mean the villages that surround Dhrangadhra which vary greatly in size, construction, population and sanitation.  We first went to the house of a midwife who is really involved with an NGO and the government in bringing health education to her village of migrant workers.  She also helps deliver babies.  However, in the past five years the number of babies being delivered at home has gone from over 70% to only a handful per year. This is probably because of some of the education she is giving them.  The migrant population is really interesting.  The caste is known as the Adivasi and works for half the year as farmers and half the year mining and harvesting salt.  They are very uneducated and very poor.  They have a particular DV concern that other castes don’t have.  They have a widely accepted practice that all of the men of the immediate family get to have sex with a man’s wife.  This means that a woman must have sex not only with her husband but his brothers and father.  When asked what resources she would most like to have that she currently doesn’t, our midwife said she wanted to be able to give education to the families so that they will stop this practice. 
Another interesting thing we learned is how differently domestic violence is handled here.  Our midwife told us that when they hear of a case of DV they meet with the women and take a history to see how serious the issue is.  In cases where the woman would like the situation to change, the midwife and people she works with will reach out to the husband and try to do some work with him to get him to stop the abuse.  This seems to involve some education, or “compromise” as Indians like to say.  It should be no surprise that no one we have talked to has had any DV training.  Their practice of reaching out to the man would be looked upon as a dangerous practice by anyone trained in DV in the US. It also doesn’t seem to be working very well.  
Next we went to another village.  I am unsure if it was the snake charming village, or maybe it was the village next to the snake charming village, but either way there is a real snake charming village.  If interested, I can show you a documentary that Jaybapa did on the snake charming caste.  We all heavily hinted that we would like to see a demonstration at some point. 
The village we went to, snake charming or not, was much less developed than the one we had come from.  The buildings were made of mud, and animals were living in the house with the people.  Jeyshrii (our translator) had the men of the family put the bench/bed over an area that looked like it was used as a toilet so we wouldn’t have to put our feet in it.  We waited for the midwife, but she had gone to wash clothes since we were late.  As we waited we played with a little baby with big cheeks and smiling eyes.  The women wore beautiful saris and that they had over their heads.  They used the ends to cover their faces out of respect for the men that were present.  As usual, everyone was fascinated with us.  Heads were poking over walls, staring and then running away when we waved. 
Carlie had to pee and asked about a bathroom.  Illa (our other interpreter) thought and then said, well, there is no bathroom here.  People mostly just go in the street.  Saris make is easy to stay modest while squatting.  Carlie was not wearing a sari though.  Her lovely new tunic and Indian leggings would not have kept her modest had she squatted in the street.  To her horror she was taken to use someone’s shower.  She felt terrible but there was no other way.  Seeing as there was goat poop and livestock in the living room where we were, I’m not sure our own concept of hygienic barriers applied.  However, it still feels like an imposition to pee in someone’s shower. Eventually we gave up and sped back to the palace for a late and much needed lunch. 
Following my two hour power nap we interviewed a doctor that works for the government hospital and sees many women from the lower socio-economic castes in the area.  He had to miss our previous appointment because he had to appear in court for a rape case.  We had a really informative meeting with him.  He also has received no training on DV even though he works with women experiencing it all the time.  We are starting to see a clearer picture about how our research might inform future projects in the area.  I continue to learn more and more every day, but yes, I am still pinching myself. 


Shelley Rolf said...

So much to think about from reading your posts. Thank you for sharing.

Ann Behar said...

I've seen all kinds of yucky and weird bathrooms in my day, but I never even heard of a town that didn't have a bathroom, period. Americans are so particular about how and where they go, that it's hard for me to comprehend such an opposite extreme!