I have more to share about Shanti Devi this week, the woman I wrote about last week.
Shanti Devi and her family and community are at the heart of HRLN’s photo exhibition, Mera Haq: Surviving Pregnancy in India. This past Saturday, the photos were exhibited at the India Islamic Cultural Centre along with a (short) film and panel discussion.
The event was stunning, the pictures haunting and the panelists fierce. So many women die for want of basic services, services they legally have a right to.
Shanti’s death was not the end of the story though. Her family brought their outrage to court and in June 2010, the Delhi High Court issued a groundbreaking decision not only recognizing maternal mortality as a human right violation for the first time in Indian history, but also ordering the government to pay Shanti’s family compensation for her preventable death. Such a thing, if you don’t know already, is absolutely unheard of in the U.S. Another reason why I am here.
I spent much of the evening at the front entrance as greeter. I directed people to the Banquet Hall and also explained the event to passerbyers at IICC. This was super interesting as the crowd was mostly traditionally dressed Muslim men.
So the night was bittersweet; the tremendous tragedy of Shanti’s death was offset by the hope that it need not continue this way.