Another legend involves a giant named Nila who served King Gajabahu I (113 AD) in Anuradhapura. What, you may ask, does a giant have to do with young girls and puberty in Sri Lanka? The answer is that as a result of some amazing feats performed by Nila against the Chola Kingdom, Nila became a deity famous for his strength. Accordingly, his power came to be invoked at kotahalu yaagayas, i.e. the ritual that is performed by the village kattadiya, on the advice of an astrologer, when a girl gets her first period but is faced with the evil effects that result from a negatively influenced auspicious time or nekatha. The kotahalu yaagaya is performed to save the girl from such evil effects.
Upon discovering the commencement of her first period, the girl is made to stay in a room away from the normal traffic of the house until the time comes for her bathing ritual. It is believed that the reason for seclusion is to protect the girl against evil spirits, which she is said to be particularly vulnerable to at this point in her life. In some cases, the girl is given a metal object to place under her bed, so as to ward off evil spirits. During her time of seclusion, the girl is prohibited from interacting with men and boys.
Before performing the pubertal bathing ritual, the girl is taken to look at a tree that exudes a milky sap when cut. She is also made to stand on a mat sprinkled with unhusked rice. Both the oozing tree and the unhusked rice are symbols of fertility. They are meant to provide good omens vis-à-vis her entry into womanhood, and her projected role as wife, and mother.
A clay pot or kalaya is filled with water and sprinkled with jasmine flowers. This is poured over the girl seven times as she sits on a wooden stool, usually facing a particular direction, on the advice of the family astrologer. It is believed that kili (a contaminant that is thought to be around women when they menstruate) is eradicated in this way. The pubertal bathing ritual concludes with the dashing of the kalaya to pieces. In some instances, the redi nenda bathes the girl and breaks the kalaya. In such instances, the redi nenda is given all the clothes and jewellery worn by the girl, prior to her being adorned in new clothes and jewellery. In Tamil/Hindu tradition, the girl is bathed in saffron and milk.
Once the girl completes the bathing ritual she is dressed in new clothes and is made to wear ancestral gold jewellery. In Tamil communities, the girl is made to wear a saree for the first time, symbolizing her passage into womanhood, and a priest is invited to her home to perform a religious ceremony amidst family.
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In the West African nation of Niger, adolescent girls have the highest total fertility rate in the world, attributable to high rates of early marriage and childbirth. Gender norms that place men in decision-making positions and charge women with childbearing and childrearing, preclude engagement in discussions about fertility and family planning (FP) and as a result, contraceptive use remains low. As men are increasingly included in FP promotion efforts alongside women, it is important to understand the forces that shape couples\u2019 interactions in the FP process. Utilizing data from married adolescent girls and their husbands in the Dosso region of Niger, this dissertation studies individual-, family-, and community-level factors to better understand how couples communicate about contraception and make decisions about actual contraceptive use. First, this work assesses the effects of couples\u2019 individual attitudes about FP on spousal communication about contraception. This includes the separate, joint, and interacting effects of adolescent wives\u2019 and husbands\u2019 individual attitudes and their relationship with recent
Abuses include long working hours, no days off, restrictions on freedom of movement and association, lack of pay, and physical and sexual abuse. Migrants have little access to the justice system due to restrictions on their movement, lack of information about their rights, and language barriers. Undocumented workers who have been abused fear approaching governments as they face possible detention and deportation, and the likelihood of little or no action on their complaints. Lack of protection for women migrants' human rights also cultivates environments that can foster trafficking of women and girls into forced labor and forced prostitution.11
The status of women in Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and India varies widely both within and across countries. Despite the progress made for women's rights in recent decades by legal reforms, improvements in girls' education, and greater awareness of the imperative of state action to fight violence against women, many forms of gender-based discrimination and violence continue to be serious problems in each country.12 Governments have a mixed record in implementing women's rights protections, and women seeking redress have often encountered chauvinistic attitudes and little political will. Vibrant women's rights movements raise consciousness, provide services, and lobby for reforms in all four nations.
Girls' education rates have dramatically increased, but gender inequality still manifests itself in higher education, labor force participation, and earning power. In Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka, girls' rate of primary and secondary school enrollment is approximately equal to boys. In India, significant gender gaps remain with only sixty-five literate women for every one hundred literate men.13 In all four countries, approximately 40-55 percent of women are economically active, and they fall far behind men in average earnings. The table on the next page lists the estimated average annual earned income of men and women in each country, as well as the ratio of women's to men's earnings.
Singapore's strict enforcement of its immigration laws, in combination with its small size, result in lower levels of irregular migration compared to other countries in the region, for example, Malaysia. In early 2005, Singapore decreed that new migrant domestic workers must be twenty-three or older, an attempt to make it more difficult for teenage girls (and in some cases even younger children) to enter the country as workers with altered travel documents. Though the number of domestic workers under age eighteen is difficult to document, organizations that provide services to abused migrant workers report relatively few cases involving child domestic workers. One of the principal nongovernmental organizations working with migrants said, "We have only had three cases of underage domestic workers."41
In the training center, it was very bad.... We received rice once a day and in the morning bread.... I was there for three months. There were over a hundred girls there. The gate was always locked. The security guard had the key. If my friends ran away, the rest of the girls received punishments. They wouldn't give us food for a day, or we would have to do three or four hundred sit-ups.
There were 250 girls.... We were not allowed outside. The gates were locked and we could not go out, even with permission. There were security guards. Some women tried to run away.... I felt like I was in prison.... I used my same age, but a lot of my friends changed their age on their passports. Some were under eighteen, they were going to Malaysia and Singapore.... We had a medical check, they checked our body, urine, blood. I don't know what they were checking.... They cut my hair. I had no choice. I was quite sad, who likes to be forced? They said I could not pray, that I could not fast during Ramadan.51
I paid 500,000 rupiah [U.S.$46] and then they sent me to the shelter [agency]. The [agent] told me it would be a seven-month deduction, but when I arrived, I found out it was ten months. So I had no other choice but to carry on. If we return [to Indonesia early] we have to pay ten months salary. The agent in Malang told me this. If we didn't pay, they would abuse us and send us to Batam [an area notorious for sex trafficking]. A lot of friends [other domestic workers] who are unsuccessful with their employers, they go to Batam and face abuse from the agent. Some girls got hit, they could not go out.56
We must finish the contract. If we want to go home before two years, then we would have to pay five million rupiah [U.S.$495]. If the employer returns me to the agency and they can't find another employer, then they will send me to Batam. We would be given work in Batam, I don't know what type. I heard rumors, if sent to Batam, they would make prostitutes out of girls like me, but I don't know if it's true. That's what happens if we do not finish the contract. There is lots of pressure.
Many sending countries have begun instituting pre-departure orientation programs that, among others things, provide domestic workers with information about their rights. These programs do not yet reach all migrant domestic workers, and often reach them only after they have already endured poor conditions and forced confinement in training centers. A Singaporean woman who works with abused domestic workers said, "The pre-departure orientation is important. Lots of problems could be reduced if sending countries did their job. Slavery in the modern era, it starts with girls themselves.... Educating them here [in Singapore] is too late!"59 One domestic worker said she was much better able to negotiate her working conditions the second time she migrated. She said: 2b1af7f3a8