Scroll’s Johanna Deeksha and Nolina Minj won 2023 Laadli Media Awards on Saturday. Deeksha won the award in the English language in the country’s southern region category and Minj in the western region.

The Laadli Media Awards was instituted in 2007 by Population First, a nonprofit supported by the United Nations Population Fund. The awards honour, recognise and celebrate the efforts of those in news media and advertising who highlight gender sensitivity.

Deeksha won the award for her story, written as part of Scroll’s Common Ground in-depth reporting project, on why sex workers in India dread going to hospital. She spoke to sex workers from across the country who recounted how they are ignored, overcharged and ill-treated, particularly by doctors and staff of government hospitals.

Most of the women Deeksha spoke to for the story said that they felt more comfortable approaching private healthcare providers or clinics where the doctors had been through some kind of sensitisation training.

Among the primary situations in which sex workers said they needed healthcare, but found it hard to access, was when they got pregnant. They struggled both in cases where they sought abortions, as well as when they wanted to carry their pregnancies to term, Deeksha found.

Minj won the award for her story, also part of the Common Ground project, on the horrors of queer conversion therapy in India.

Minj reported on how persons from the queer community are being subjected to various “treatments” such as bizarre conversion rituals and hypnosis, which are aimed at changing their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Independent journalist Safina Nabi also won the award for her story for Scroll on how countless women in Kashmir, whose husbands disappeared and could never be traced, are being denied their basic property rights and are left to fend for themselves. Nabi won the award in the English language in the country’s northern region category.

The story, titled “How Kashmir’s half-widows are denied their basic property rights”, was also published under the Common Ground project. Women whose husbands are missing but not yet been declared dead are referred to as “half-widows” by the Kashmiri media.

Nabi, who writes on gender, health and human rights, had won the prestigious Fetisov Journalism Award for the story in April.

On Wednesday, the Maharashtra Institute of Technology-World Peace University in Pune cancelled its decision to honour her for the story, two days before the award ceremony, allegedly due to political pressure. However, the institution said it did not act out of any “external political pressure”.