Guide Forbidden Worlds: The Day The World Died and other stories

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And it was during this time that governments of recently colonised countries, including the Philippines and Bangladesh as well as India, would also begin to sterilise their populations, with international support. Peru and China also received foreign aid for their sterilisation programmes. But today, India is the country where the most sterilisations are performed in the world, in terms of both absolute numbers and percentage of the population.

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The Indian government began aggressively promoting sterilisation in the s, and a number of international organisations and governments were happy to provide support, including the World Bank, the US government and the Ford Foundation. Today, USAID, the arm of the US government that provides funding for family planning services around the world, continues to support some of this thinking: a USAID-funded white paper in recommended that sterilisation increase globally. After a forcible male sterilisation campaign when more than six million low-income men were sterilised and 2, died, the Indian government began to change its official approach to family planning.

Over the last two years the Indian government rolled out Mission Parivar Vikas , which offers three new hormonal methods of contraception, including progestin-only contraceptive pills. According to UN Statistics, globally the proportion of married or in-union women who have been sterilised has decreased from Government sterilisation camps, meanwhile, continued until The irreversibility of sterilisation also means that one cannot fairly compare its popularity with that of other methods.

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Most studies, including the UN survey, count how many women are currently using a type of contraception. While women can, and do, choose to discontinue other methods at any time, once their contraceptive method is sterilisation, that rarely changes: tubal ligation reversal is both costly and likely to fail. Still, that makes the difference between the numbers of sterilised women globally, versus in India, all the more marked.

The upside is that these women never have to think about contraceptive methods again. But sometimes, as in Chhattisgarh, women received the sterilisation procedure without fully understanding its significance — and in unsafe conditions. He considers the deaths an inevitable result of policy choices that devalue poor women. But in some places, the more limited hours are proving inadequate to service demand for the procedure.

At the Mungeli district level hospital about 50km from Bilaspur, for example, a surgeon now comes in to do the procedure two days each week.

If sterilisation remains in such high demand even among women in Chhattisgarh despite its now-tainted history there, many women must still see it as their best option. But the procedure remains controversial — and not only because of preventable deaths like those in Bilaspur. Even when performed correctly and in hygienic circumstances, tubal ligation remains more risky and invasive than vasectomy.

Even so, in the majority of countries, female sterilisation is more popular than male sterilisation. Even when performed in hygienic conditions, tubal ligation remains riskier than vasectomy — but in India and other countries is the far more common choice Credit: Shahid Tantray. A woman must follow instructions to use methods like the condom or the pill. But once a woman is sterilised, her participation in controlling her fertility is over.

Governments have abused this.

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In Peru in the late s, for example, public medics would sterilise poor women without telling them , instead claiming to be performing a different procedure like injecting vitamins intravenously. One other difficulty is that the emphasis on, and popularity of, sterilisation can encourage women not to use other methods. Most women who get sterilised in India use only this contraceptive method in their lifetime. In other words, they never use something like an intrauterine device IUD , patch or pill first to help space out pregnancies.

This comes with significant health risks: not spacing out pregnancies means that both the women and their children face an increased risk of death and other complications. This goes hand in hand with the fact that other contraceptive methods, like the pill or IUD, are less available in the country, as are trained professionals who can insert IUDs. And across social classes, women tend to lack knowledge about other methods. Most women who get sterilised in India have never previously used another contraceptive method Credit: Shahid Tantray. Even most young women who spoke with her after researching contraception on the internet had misconceptions about the pill — believing that it causes permanent infertility, for example.

But Goel says that, at least among her patients, social change in India means that more women are educating themselves about other options. If last speakers of a language live far apart, their vocabularies can begin to fade Thinkstock.

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Languages usually reach the point of crisis after being displaced by a socially, politically and economically dominant one, as linguists put it. In this scenario, the majority speaks another language — English, Mandarin, Swahili — so speaking that language is key to accessing jobs, education and opportunities.

Sometimes, especially in immigrant communities, parents will decide not to teach their children their heritage language, perceiving it as a potential hindrance to their success in life. Speakers of minority languages have suffered a long history of persecution. Well into the 20th Century, many Native American children in Canada and the US were sent to boarding schools, where they were often forbidden to speak their native language.

Today, many English-speaking Americans are still hostile towards non-English speakers , especially Spanish ones. Extreme persecution still happens as well. Last August, a linguist in China was arrested for trying to open schools that taught his native language, Uighur. He has not been heard from since. For these reasons and others, languages are dying all over the world. The highest numbers occur in the Americas. When Europeans first arrived there, aboriginal languages were spoken around the country.

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Just a dozen of the original are still being taught to children. In Australia, more than aboriginal languages have gone extinct since European settlers arrived Getty Images. But does it matter whether a seemingly obscure language spoken by a few people in one isolated corner of the world goes out of existence? Some people argue that language loss, like species loss, is simply a fact of life on an ever-evolving planet. But counter arguments are abundant. The Iliad was an oral story before it was written, as was The Odyssey.

How does this kitten make you feel? The Cherokee language has a unique word for it: "oo-kah-huh-sdee" Thinkstock. Languages also convey unique cultures. On the other hand, it has special expressions all its own.


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One word — oo-kah-huh-sdee —represents the mouth-watering, cheek-pinching delight experienced when seeing an adorable baby or a kitten. Without the language, the culture itself might teeter, or even disappear. Another argument mirrors that of biodiversity conservation. Just as ecosystems provide a wealth of services for humanity — some known, others unacknowledged or yet to be discovered — languages, too, are ripe with possibility.

They contain an accumulated body of knowledge , including about geography, zoology, mathematics, navigation, astronomy, pharmacology, botany, meteorology and more. In the case of Cherokee, that language was born of thousands of years spent inhabiting the southern Appalachia Mountains. Languages can contain vital knowledge - the names of berries can convey whether they're poisonous, for example Thinkstock. Finally, languages are ways of interpreting the world, and no two are the same. As such, they can provide insight into neurology, psychology and the linguistic capacities of our species.

Returning to Cherokee, unlike English it is verb rather than noun-based, and those verbs can be conjugated in a multitude of ways based on who they are acting upon. And depending on the suffix, speakers can indicate whether a noun is toward or away from them; uphill or downhill; or upstream or down stream.