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Bloomberg School Alumna Wins Journalism Awards for Reporting on Dowry Violence in India

Varsha Ramakrishnan was Inaugural Recipient of Johns Hopkins-Pulitzer Center Global Health Reporting Fellowship.


Varsha Ramakrishnan and Ethel KennedyVarsha Ramakrishnan, a 2013 MPH graduate of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the first recipient of the Johns Hopkins-Pulitzer Center Global Health Reporting Fellowship, was recently honored with two prestigious journalism awards for her story on dowry violence against women in India.

Her article “A Broken Promise: Dowry Violence in India,” published in Johns Hopkins Public Health magazine (fall 2013), garnered awards from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

The article won the Robert F. Kennedy Award for College Journalism, which honors reporting on human rights violations and analysis of efforts to foster positive global change. Ramakrishnan accepted her award from Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert F. Kennedy, during the May 22 RFK awards ceremony at the Newseum in Washington D.C.

Ramakrishnan, also won the national first-place Mark of Excellence Award from SPJ for her story, which was selected from 12 regional winners in the Non-Fiction Magazine Article category. The Mark of Excellence award recognizes the best collegiate work published or broadcast in 2013.

“In writing this story and bringing this issue to the world’s attention, Varsha has made an important step to advanced global health and human rights,” said Brian W. Simpson, MPH, editor of Johns Hopkins Public Health. “Her article vividly demonstrates the importance of storytelling to the global health mission.”

A physician from India, Ramakrishnan proposed writing about dowry violence after observing that a hospital burns ward in India was frequently filled with young brides who had been attacked by their husbands or in-laws.

After she was awarded the Hopkins-Pulitzer fellowship, Ramakrishnan returned to India to document dowry violence and how it affects women in all levels of society. Although seeking a dowry from a bride’s family has been illegal since 1961, women who enter a marriage without enough of a “groom price” are often subject to physical, mental or sexual violence. More than 8,200 dowry deaths were reported in India in 2012.