Eve Ensler, Susannah Cahalan, secret families

Eve Ensler describes her One Billion Rising Project and her trip to India to campaign on violence against women. Susannah Cahalan, the author of Brain on Fire, talks to Aasmah Mir about her sudden and acute psychosis and eventual diagnosis with a rare brain disease. Welsh Assembly member Rosemary Butler and Scottish MP Elaine Smith, on concern about the falling number of female politicians in Scotland and Wales. And we discuss secret second families with listeners and author Lucy Caldwell.

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58 minutes

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Mon 4 Feb 2013 10:00

Eve Ensler

According to the UN, one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. That’s the equivalent of one billion women and girls, and it’s a figure that has inspired the author of The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler, to launch One Billion Rising. She describes it as a global day of dance action, and on 14 February she’s hoping that one billion women, and the men who love them, will leave whatever they’re doing to go and dance to raise awareness and end violence against women and girls. Eve Ensler joins Aasmah Mir to talk about the campaign.

Life With An Undiagnosed Brain Infection

Susannah Cahalan was a 24 year old newspaper reporter for the New York Post when she quickly developed acute psychosis – a condition which sparked a descent into “madness”, a desperate search for a diagnosis, and which baffled doctors, who began to believe she could be confined to a psychiatric ward. She was eventually diagnosed with a rare brain condition – anti-NMDA receptor autoimmune encephalitis – an autoimmune disease which attacked her brain and caused her psychotic behaviour. It helped her start a journey of recovery, and enabled her to write about her story in her new book, Brain On Fire. Susannah joins Aasmah Mir to describe her experiences of this strain of encephalitis, along with Professor Tom Solomon, Chair of Neurological Science and Head of the Brain Infections Group at the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool, who is also based at the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, the only specialist neurosciences NHS Trust in the UK.

Brain On Fire: My Month Of Madness is published by Particular Books

For further support and information contact the Encephalitis Society

Decline Of Women In The Welsh And Scottish Assemblies

Presiding Officer for the National Assembly for Wales, Rosemary Butler AM, has written to the leaders of all four political parties in Wales to raise the issue of women’s representation. From being a world leader in women’s political representation with over 50 per cent women, Wales has seen a drop off in the number of female Assembly Members since 2007, and a similar pattern has emerged in the Scottish Parliament. Rosemary joins Elaine Smith MSP to discuss the issues with Aasmah Mir.

Second Families

We hear from women who have grown up as children of ‘second’ families - where their mother is their father’s mistress and their father has another ‘first’ family elsewhere. And writer Lucy Caldwell talks to Aasmah Mir about her new book, All The Beggars Riding, in which she tells the story of Lara who finds out when she is 12 that her father has another ‘proper’ home elsewhere.


All The Beggars Riding by Lucy Caldwell is published by Faber

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