Quote of the Day

Bhakti (devotion) is defined as a means of discovering the Divine reality within each being. Four steps are laid down in the scriptures to help man succeed in this effort – discrimination between the permanent and the ephemeral; withdrawal from the process of catering to the senses; positive control of the feelings, thoughts and pursuits, and incessant yearning for liberation from all bonds. Bhakti is the urge which manifests as all these four endeavours. It directs man to have God ever in mind and to cultivate love for God within him.


Sathya Sai Baba

Women At War

Populations that are displaced as a result of conflict face reproductive health challenges that require existent service delivery models to be adapted to suit their needs, especially those of women and girls.    

In many parts of the world, women and girls in conflict zones find themselves victims of a silent war that infringes their sexual and human rights.

According to statistics, 80% of the approximately 37 million refugees and displaced persons globally are women and children, yet little funding and programming goes into addressing their requirements.   

A UN report titled – The Shame of War: Sexual violence against women and girls in conflict, released early 2007 – says that “of all the abuses committed in war, rape is one specifically inflicted against women”.    

“The brutality and viciousness of the sexual attacks that are reported from the current conflicts in Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Iraq and Sudan, and the testimonies from past conflicts in Timor-Leste, the Balkans and Sierra Leone are heartbreaking,” writes Yakin Ertuk, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women in the foreword to the report.    

“Girls and women, old and young, are preyed upon by soldiers, militia, police and armed thugs wherever conflict rages and the parties to the conflict fail to protect civilian populations.”    

The victims are often afraid to report of their rape due to social stigma and shame, threat to personal security, or simply because there are no services available.    

As the report notes, women and girls lose their family and community after experiencing rape due to feelings of shame and discriminatory attitudes. Their only option may be further victimization through sexual exploitation.    

A major condition for the well-being and development of women and girls is their ability to exercise control over their sexual and reproductive lives.    

World Health Organization (WHO) describes sexual health as a state of physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing in relation to sexuality; and not merely an absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. It implies pleasurable and safe sexual experiences that are free of coercion, discrimination and violence.    

For women and girls in conflict zones, the consequences of rape are many: sexually transmitted infections and reproductive health problems, unwanted pregnancy, fistulae, maternal mortality, and HIV/AIDS, says the report.    

Female sexual vulnerability poses a grave public health problem, during the conflict and post conflict period.    

Women and girls in conflict areas have a myriad of reproductive health needs that policymakers at national and international levels need to take into account in the design of programs.      

Programs may involve working with community leaders, men’s and women’s groups and the military to sensitize about the need to prevent the problem of sexual violence. Women and girls need to be empowered to be able to prevent themselves from becoming victims of sexual violence through economic empowerment and access to reproductive health services.    

As Theresa McGinn, 2001, succinctly puts it: “Understanding the ways in which refugee women’s reproductive health problems are both similar to, and different from, those of women in settled populations can help policy makers and programmers.”    

Women and girls in conflict zones must have access to medical treatment, including access to drugs that can prevent sexually transmitted infections, psychosocial and legal support and access to abortion services to terminate forced pregnancies.    

With conflicts popping up in every corner of the globe, there’s need for more public discussion about how to bring much needed reproductive health and psychosocial support services to women in conflict areas. 

How to Unlock the Magic of Listening

Unlocking the magic of listening is perhaps one of the best ways for you to have a life filled with friendship, love, joy and happiness.  

Listening can help you to break through barriers, and help you to connect with people at a deeper, fundamental level.  

It is about wholly paying attention to what someone has to say so that you have a full grasp of what they have to say. 

Unfortunately, listening is not a skill that we are taught. It is assumed that listening is more an automatic impulse that has nothing to do with active personal engagement.  But hearing what someone has said is not quite the same thing as listening.

Your heart and mind should be open so that you can properly understand what someone has to say. 

According to motivational speaker Barbara White, the art of listening also involves watching the person’s body language, maintaining eye contact, asking for clarification when needed and also listening for the unspoken message. 

The constant rush of what we think and feel within the self is perhaps the greatest hurdle to effective listening. Overcoming it takes time, perseverance and practice. 

You have to engage in mindfulness when you are listening, that is, an ability to bring yourself to a situation where you take into your soul and spirit what someone is saying to you before you can make a judgment. 

The process of truly listening thus requires serious investment on the part of the listener. To unlock the power of listening, you have to bring an attitude of humility and mental awakeness to the process. 

Many people “sleep listen”.

They appear to pay attention but in reality all they catch is a glimpse of what the other party is saying, and they immediately rush to respond, thus breaking down the communication process. 

Instead, you have to create an open space within self that gracefully accepts what the other person has to say without being tempted to interject. By being mindful of your own being, you can keep a tab on your own desire to talk back so that you give the speaker an opportunity to complete their thought pattern.  

If you become a prisoner to your own thoughts and desires, you destroy the communicative act because self-engagement destroys the power of listening. To effectively listen, you must step outside the confinement of your own ego-centric self.  

You must therefore strive to always be in the present moment, fully aware of what the other person is saying, neither analyzing nor judging, but listening in order to get to the heart of the matter of what they have to say. 

Unlocking the power of listening is a personal choice it is not something that can be forced upon an individual.  But the fact is that listening can maximize the quality of human connection, bonding and understanding, and in the process, help to build a better vision of who we are, and the goals that we seek to achieve at personal, family, community, business and international levels. 

Our humanness is so very interdependent, and sharing is very much its lifeblood. Effective listening is a form of acceptance that we are not the only ones that matter in the overall scheme of things.  Listening is a gift that you can share at no cost at all.

If anything, you will be richly blessed in your own life for doing just that.  Through listening whole heartedly and unconditionally, you will reap a multitude of rewards that enhance your personal relationships. 

As Jim Rohn says: “One of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone is the gift of attention.”