With over 35 million homeless children in India, and shelters for only 36,000 of them, children's lives can be precariously balanced and sexual abuse is widespread. But even those living at home are not always safe.
Bigamy is outlawed in India with the exception of the Muslim minority community which is governed by its own personal/ family law. In reality, even non-Muslim men have been able to use the method of quick-fix conversions to undermine the law.
For most communities in traditional communities in India, a bride is expected to be a virgin and concepts of honor and dignity run deep. Now the government is accused of promoting virginity testing at mass weddings.
Though still more young girls than boys are kidnapped for marriage, there are parts of India where kidnappings of boys for marriage occur more frequently than for ransom.
The Taliban succeeded in pushing back women's rights by centuries. But eight years of international presence in Afghanistan have not improved women's prospects by much if at all.
Movement or displacement of women after marriage in India is a phenomenon commonly linked to issues of exploitation and trafficking of women.
Gender discrimination and conservative socio-political agendas can work against women's right just about anywhere in the world.
Despite the annual show of presence in different parts of India during gay pride parades, lesbians continue to remain one of the more closeted groups amongst the LGBT community.
Despite some progress in electing women, too few women legislators are getting elected, and India's Parliament remains dominated by men.
The international community played a role during the drafting of the Afghan constitution, ensuring seats for women in Parliament. Now this is the time to follow up on those principles that they enshrined for the Afghan people.
India is a country of contrasts in not just the multiplicity of religions and faiths but also cultural contexts. So while in one part of the country a law is formulated to safeguard the rights of women in live-in relationships in another part of the country women are facing physical assaults for being dressed in "western attire."
While pregnant women's lack of access to basic medical facilities in India is entrenched, social attitudes around the accepted role of women as childbearers worsen maternal health in the country.
Removing the stigma accorded to live-in relationships takes into account the plight of women who have been tricked into marriage into socially ambiguous, sexually exploitative relationships.
While honor killings elicit attention as a primordial custom, the fact is that this form of violence is part of a much larger problem that transcends cultures and religions.
While being sensitive towards the demands on women with regard to parenting, the new law does little to promote the notion of child-rearing as a shared responsibility.
In response to terrorist attacks in Mumbai, more power will be vested in state machinery to be better prepared for a similar crisis in the future. That very same power can be used to exploit women.
Rather than targeting the most at-risk populations, ideological provisions in PEPFAR marginalize sex workers and all women. The next administration can take the ideology out.
Stories in a new anthology on HIV in India swing from touching to tortured, poignant to pragmatic, as the writers expose the lives of the real people behind the stereotypes of sex workers, the police, homosexuals, transgenders and most of all, positive persons.
Sixty percent of the under-five deaths in India occur in just five states. An Indian child's chance of celebrating the fifth birthday clearly depends on the state or community it is born into.
A woman carrying a fetus with high chance of deformation was denied an abortion in India. The country's response highlights the complexity of writing abortion law in a country plagued by sex-selective abortions.
A colorful new train will travel throughout India to bring HIV information -- in accessible, multimedia format -- to Indians countrywide.
Violence gets insidiously soaked in to everyday life in India. But sensitivity towards victims of such crimes remains abysmally low.
LGBT rights activists marching in Gay Pride Parades in India argued that criminalization of homosexuality is a remnant of colonial rule, and that Hindu mythology recognizes sexual minorities.
India's state governments may quarrel over sexuality education and HIV prevention, but local initiatives targeting youth, women, the armed forces, and those already infected show promise in fighting the epidemic.
Dowry practices in India drive women's limited access to education and self-determination.
In India, there are laws to prevent dowry, domestic violence, sexual harassment and child marriage. But in the country's social context, these laws aren't very effective.
Latest reports by India's National Crime Records Bureau found a seven-fold increase in rape cases between 1971 and 2006. But the agencies that should ensure safe environments for women make excuses for perpetrators and resort to moral policing rather than finding ways to make women safer.
In the Madhya Pradesh state of India, the administration is offering men guns in exchange for vasectomies. But in choosing to meet targets rather than educating communities, the administration is hardening stereotypes of manliness, placing communities in even more vulnerable positions.
The HIV epidemic in India needs to be fought by accessible testing, lessening stigma, widespread education, and needle exchange programs, but above all, it needs to be fought by a humane and scientific prevention program coming from the government.
PEPFAR includes a huge amount of money with a burdensome and ideological list of "do's" and "don'ts." Haven't we seen this before? Read this latest post in our International Women's Health Salon.
In India, women -- viewed as either the husband's or father's property -- cannot make decisions about their own marriages. But a new decision made by Muslim bodies and Islamic scholars says that under Sharia law, a woman cannot be married against her will.
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) is one of the most closely watched social initiatives in India. While the scheme has the potential to be effective in the alleviation of unemployment and poverty, it is imperative is to study women's participation in the social auditing of the NREGA.
In a veritable export industry, every year over a thousand organs from India go abroad - most of them to Arab countries - even though the domestic demand is far from met. Seventy-one percent of those supplying the organs are women.
Debates on surrogacy in India are bound to be endless. But who is to decide which exploitation is more acceptable? A woman renting her womb or working low-paying jobs in inhuman conditions?
Looking back on the year in Indian women's rights, it's clear that women continue to occupy the role of nurturers and care-providers in every Indian sub-culture, religion or group, robbing them of the ability to nurture and care for themselves. It is time for that to change.
Offering women and their rights as the first sacrifice is commonplace to preserve the chaste principles of almost any religion.
The "Gulabi Gang" - women in India donning pink saris - are taking a stand against gender inequity, child marriage and social injustice, employing techniques that shame the accused.
In India, the number of HIV infections may be substantially lower than estimated, but the country still has a huge amount of prevention and destigmatization to do.
Sexuality confronts and challenges cherished notions of culture. And hence sexuality outside marriage is not recognized, sexuality of women is not seen as existing, sexual choices other than of the heterosexual variety are criminalized and transgender people marginalized.
With a opposition to sex education guided by politics of the day and state weighed against the considerable number of lives at risk, it is the politicizing of sex education that is to be seen as "immoral" and not sex education itself.
The 4th Asian Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights threw open doors to the various forms of religious intimidation used to hold women down by the chains of culture, belief and honor.
Removing gaps between men and women -- gaps in education, health, nutrition, human rights and laws -- is the only real solution to eliminating the sex ration at birth gap.
Sati -- women's self-immolation on her husband's funeral pyre, often coerced -- has been eulogized, romanticized, worshiped and has achieved divine status in parts of northern India.
For the millions of child brides in the Asian continent, marriage is the vehicle that transports girls into a zone of exploitation beyond redemption - precisely because marriage enjoys protection as a societal sanction.
Yoga can help people living with HIV live healthier lives, but it certainly can't prevent new infections, much as Indian religious leaders may want it to.
New laws show India wants to deal with widespread domestic violence, but will the measures be effective in the real world?
The Indian government is planning to restrict women's reproductive choices rather than address the reasons for sex-selective abortions.
Increased international exposure of sex selective abortions in India is leading the first female president to pledge reform. Will this be any different than laws already on the books, or just more control over women's lives?
Sex in India is a practise but one that does not enjoy either the space or atmosphere for discussion between the practising partners. As a result many women remain unaware of what HIV/AIDS really means and how they can protect themselves.
The extremely skewed sex ratio in India tells a story of the "girl deficit" caused by banned practices undertaken by people of different religions, social strata and education levels.
Sex selective abortion is a complex issue in India, rooted in patriarchal culture and gender inequality. Deepali Gaur Singh takes a deeper look.
The Indian government is addressing human trafficking by requiring training for women seeking employment as domestic workers abroad and banning women under 30 from this work in certain countries.
Women who are raped in India face societal pressure to marry their violators; proposals of marriage are seen by some as atonement for the crime, even when they are offered just before a guilty verdict.
Akha Teej is an auspicious day for Indian weddings, but is also infamous for the mass child marriages that occur on the same day. Young married girls are particularly vulnerable to HIV and other reproductive health concerns.
Editor's note: Today we welcome Deepali Gaur Singh, writing from India. She has experience in childcare, health, and education; she will be covering reproductive health issues on the continent of Asia.
At a time when even children from rural marginal families in one part of India—the southern state of Karnataka—are engaging in information dissemination on HIV with a specific focus on stigma and discrimination, adult policy-makers in five states of the country have rejected the new syllabus introduced by the national government's Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) featuring sex education as a dedicated subject for middle school students. Just as the central government gets credit for taking one of the most proactive steps with regard to both education and children in recent times (by directing all states to include the subject in their curriculum), and with the training of teachers also underway, it's ironic that the resistance to the move has come from just about every quarter possible.