When the United Nations hosted a panel discussion last year urging its partners to “break their silence” on open defecation, Singapore’s deputy permanent representative Mark Neo was outspoken in his characterisation: “Open defecation is a euphemism. What we are talking about is shitting in the open.”
Every month, more than two billion women around the world menstruate, and yet the topic is still shrouded by a veil of silence. While some girls celebrate their period as the first step into womanhood, many girls in developing or emerging countries are shocked and ashamed of their monthly cycles.
At the height of his election campaign last October, Narendra Modi, India's Hindu nationalist leader, briefly set aside his spiritual aspirations when he told a surprised audience that economic development should take precedence over religion.
Fifteen-year-old Nasreen Jehan, a student in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, proudly flaunts a yellow and red beaded bracelet encircling her wrist. This humble accessory, she tells IPS, is her most treasured possession.