By N.B. Sarojini & Anjali Shenoi
Editors’ Note: In this issue of DifferenTakes, two activists with the Indian women’s health group Sama document serious breaches in medical ethics in a trial of the Gardasil vaccine on young girls in a poor area of Andhra Pradesh state. Their findings raise important questions about the current international drive to promote Gardasil and other HPV vaccines as a strategy to curtail cervical cancer, and about medical experimentation directed at the bodies, families, and reproduction of vulnerable communities. The article reveals a pressing need for international women’s health activists to closely monitor such trials.
— Co-editors Katie McKay Bryson & Betsy Hartmann
N.B. Sarojini has been working on women’s health and rights for many years and is the Director of Sama — Resource Group for Women and Health. She is involved in the coordination of national level research on reproductive technologies and their implications for women. She has co-authored “Women’s Right to Health,” published by the National Human Rights Commission, contributed to the Political Science Textbook for Class 7 by the National Council of educational Research and Training, and co-authored a book, Touch me, Touch me not: Women, Plants and Healing (1997). She is also the Joint Convenor of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (People’s Health Movement — India), and the ex-convenor of Medico Friend’s Circle. She co-coordinated the MFC fact finding committee that studied the impact of health after the Gujarat riots of 2002 and contributed significantly to the report, “Carnage in Gujarat: A Public Health Crisis.”
Anjali Shenoi, a Masters graduate in International Development from the University of Bath, UK, is currently working with Sama — Resource Group for Women and Health. Anjali has been involved in action research, material development and advocacy around Assisted Reproductive Technologies in India, and their regulation. She has been actively engaged with Sama’s campaign initiatives on the unethical HPV vaccine trials and was part of a fact-finding team to Bhadrachalam earlier this year. Anjali also regularly participates in campaign efforts for human rights and social justice.