Sunday, July 5, 2009

Female Genocide Unfolding in India

The land of former Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi is killing its daughters by the millions. Economically resurgent India is witnessing a rapid unfolding of a female genocide in the making across all castes and classes, including the upper caste rich and the educated. The situation is particularly alarming among upper-caste Hindus in some of the urban areas of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, specially in parts of Punjab, where there are only 300 girls for every 1,000 boys, according to Laura Turquet, ActionAid's women's rights policy official.



ActionAid collaborated with Canada's International Development Research Center (IDRC) to conduct research and produced a report called "Disappearing Daughters".

The report cites findings from sites across five states in north and northwest India reveal that the sex ratio of girls to boys has not only worsened but is accelerating compared to the last national census in 2001. One of the reasons for this accelerated rate of female feticide is the abuse of ultrasound technology to determine the gender of the unborn. The purveyors of the ultrasound business in every city, town and village of India entice parents by telling them to "spend 500 rupees now and save 50,000 rupees later.” The cost of the ultrasound scan is Rs. 500 and the required dowry for marrying daughters off exceeds Rs. 50,000.00.

And everywhere else, with the exception of Rajasthan, already low figures are continuing to slide. Even in Rajasthan, the proportion of girls is well below what should be the norm of around 950 girls born for every 1000 boys.

ActionAid has also found that girls are more likely to be born but less likely to survive in areas with more limited access to public health services and modern ultrasound technology. In rural Morena and Dhaulpur, deliberate neglect of girls, including allowing the umbilical cord to become infected, is used as a way to dispose of unwanted daughters.

Such neglect ensures fewer surviving daughters, with the best chances of being born and surviving as a girl depending on the birth order in your family.

All survey sites showed a decline in the proportion of girls among second-born children. And in three of the survey sites, for every 1000 third-born boys, there were fewer than 750 girls.

The problem of female infanticide is not just limited to the states in Northern India. In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, female infanticide is so frequent that all second daughters are known as "the girl born for the burial pit", according to a documentary produced by ABC Australia.

The Indian diaspora is not immune from the cultural bias against female children, either. The male-female ratios of British Indians are also getting increasingly skewed in favor of male children. Since the 1970s, the at-birth male-female ratio of British Indians has dramatically change from 103:100 to 114.4:100, excluding the birth of the first or the second child.


Here are the latest statistics from the CIA's The World Factbook on male-female ratios at-birth in India, Pakistan and selected nations:

India at birth: 1.12 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

China at birth: 1.1 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

Pakistan at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

United Kingdom
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

United States
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2009 est.)


The at-birth male-female ratios in Pakistan are comparable to most of the rest of the world, including the West, but the Indian ratios are the worst in the world. In spite of China's one child policy, the ratios in China are better than India's.

India Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh, who has three daughters, has recognized the accelerating horror of female genocide in India. In response, he has launched the “Save the Girl Child” campaign. He has said that no nation could claim to be part of a civilized world if it condoned female feticide. An estimated 50 million girls have been sacrificed because of son preference.

"Census figures illustrate that in some of the richer states the problem is most acute. These states include Punjab which had only 798 girls (per 1,000 boys), Haryana 819, Delhi 868 and Gujarat 883 girls in the 2001 Census. Growing economic prosperity and education levels have not led to a corresponding mitigation in this acute problem," he said.

"Female illiteracy, obscurantist social practices like child marriage or early marriage, dowry, poor nutritional entitlements, taboos on women in public places make Indian women vulnerable. The patriarchal mindset and preference for male children is compounded by unethical conduct on the part of some medical practitioners," Mr. Singh said.

When the facts of this tragedy are brought up, many defensive Indians offer the examples of famous Indian women like Indra Nooyi, Kalpana Chawla, Saina Nehwal, Kalpana Morparia, Sunita Williams and Naina Lal, and ask how India is still able to produce such women of accomplishment with growing female infanticides. Instead of looking at the accomplished middle-aged Indian women, Indians should compare the at-birth male-female ratios and worry about the fact that India is now killing future Indra Nooyis.

If this female genocide continues unabated, India's male-female ratio will be so badly skewed in a decade or two that girls' families will start demanding dowry to marry off their daughters, representing a fundamental shift in the balance of power. And the contributions of the well-educated and economically string girls will earn new respect by the male-dominated Indian society.

The first step toward correcting a problem is to acknowledge it, as India's prime minister has done. But legislation alone will not help. As early as 1795, female infanticide was declared murder by the initiative of John Duncan, the British East India Company's resident in Benares, according to Dharma Kumar. But the enforcement has been extremely difficult. The key is to couple stricter enforcement with grassroots education effort to change Indian society.

My sincere hope is that men of honor and goodwill such as Manmohan Singh will step up their national campaign to stop this ongoing female genocide in India before it's too late.

Here are a couple of video clips about India's female genocide:




Related Links:

Status of Women in Pakistan

A Woman Speaker: Another Token or Real Change

"Disappearing Daughters"

The World Factbook

India's Save a Girl Child Campaign

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice article. it is true that in the rural areas and trading communities the girls are shun away.

Education is the only way to solve this evil and nothing else. However the statistics given by you of NRI is also alarming as they are supposed to be decently educated to be outside the country.

total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2009 est.) -india
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2009 est.)- pakistan

I think pakistan is also catching up with india as close neighbour.

Anonymous said...

Further analysis of population :

total: 65.14 deaths/1,000 live births - [ India 30.15 deaths/1,000 live births ]


male: 65.24 deaths/1,000 live births [ india 34.61 deaths/1,000 live births ]

female: 65.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.) [25.17 deaths/1,000 live births ]

Inspite of the concerns raised about the female child killing the infant mortality rate of india is 50% compared to pakistan.

Total fertility rate:
3.6 children born/woman (2009 est.)
[ india 2.72 children born/woman ]

This further shows the effectiveness of indian family planning program and the efforts and result of the government in reducing the denominator to the GDP.

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 64.49 years - [iNDIA 69.89 years]

country comparison to the world: 167 [ INDIA 145 ]
male: 63.4 years India 67.46
female: 65.64 years (2009 est.)
India 72.61

This indicate the health of people and chances for surviving for a longer duration.

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 49.9% - India 61%
male: 63% India. 73.4%
female: 36% (2005 est.) India 47.8%

Probably india is a democratic country to raise issues and the press has time to do. India government does not have the problem of catching its own tail [ taliban for pakistan ]

However good these issues are raised and the government needs to be pass strict law against female child killing

Riaz Haq said...

Anon:
There is no point denying, distorting and obfuscating the reality on the ground in India.
Please note the all-important at-birth ratios to see what is going on now.

Here are the latest statistics from the CIA's The World Factbook on male-female ratios in India, Pakistan and China:

India at birth: 1.12 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

Pakistan at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

China at birth: 1.1 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female
total population: 1.06 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

The at-birth male-female ratios in Pakistan are comparable to most of the rest of the world, including the West, but the Indian ratios are the worst in the world. In spite of China's one child policy, the ratios in China are better than India's.

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2018.html

Suhail said...

If the trend continues there will come a time when girls will be in short supply to a degree where grooms have to pay to the bride's father to get married, the way it is in Pathan communities in Pakistan. With this practice in place, besides marrying off, girls are sold to brothels also under the legal garb of dummy marriages; Pathan girls form the bulk of red light district prostitutes. Thus the demand for daughters increases and corrects the balance.
This shows that human societies work on principles of economics rather than on morality.

Anonymous said...

Riazbhai thank you for post. Women is doing better in Pakistan than any where else. They have the respect - they can wear burqa and niqaab and hijaab with no problem. They do not have to do work of man like in America and other place. They can lead easy life and bring up the children. These clever Indian guys trying to hide truth. You did great job taking the mask off.

Vikram said...

"If this female genocide continues unabated, India's male-female ratio will be so badly skewed in a decade or two that girls' families will start demanding dowry to marry off their daughters, representing a fundamental shift in the balance of power. And the contributions of the well-educated and economically string girls will earn new respect by the male-dominated Indian society."

This is fallacious reasoning. The only thing a distorted sex-ratio can lead to is social instability and even more suppression of women. I think one good way for Indians to combat this menace is to not marry their girls to families that have a bad sex-ratio themselves.

Shadows of life said...

very well and truthfully written...we are trying our best...check it out.

http://unwantedgirlchild.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Riaz

I came across the interesting article about the practice of respect to woman by islam. Hope you appreicate.

http://www.karuthu.com/forum/printer_friendly_posts.asp?TID=4275
==================================
In a startling disclosure, a serving member of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s loyal militia, has revealed how his duty required him to temporarily marry and rape young Iranian girls before executing them.
“In Iran, it is illegal to execute a young woman, if she is a virgin,” he explained. “Therefore a wedding ceremony is conducted the night before the execution, and the young girl is forced to have sexual intercourse with a prison guard,” he said.
“I regret that, even though the marriages were legal. Because I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their ‘wedding’ night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die,” The Jerusalem Post quoted him, as saying.
The Basiji member who joined the militia at the age of 16 says that the screams of young women still haunt him. “I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over,” he said.
I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her finger nails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her,” he said. Founded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 as a people’s militia, the volunteer Basiji force is subordinate to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and intensely loyal to Khomeini’s successor, Khamenei.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a WEF assessment of gender gap in South Asia and Islamic world as among the worst:

Despite government’s efforts at empowering women and some of them occupying top positions in various sectors, India stood at a dismally low position of 53 among 58 countries for "gender gap," according to a survey by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The survey showed that India was just above Korea, Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt which occupied the last five positions in that order but below Bangladesh which got the 39th slot. Sri Lanka and Nepal were not included in the countries surveyed.

However, Indian women got high rating for political empowerment, where they were rated at 24th position, health and well-being (34) and economic opportunity (35).

What dragged them down was educational attainment where they got a low ranking -- 57th position -- and economic participation in which they occupied 54th position.

The survey took into consideration economic participation, economic opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment and health and well-being.

The top five positions were occupied by Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Finland followed by New Zealand, Canada, Britain, Germany and Australia. The United States occupied 17th position but got low rating in providing economic opportunity to women (46th).

Despite being among the richest countries, it scored the 42nd position for health and well-being of women. However, in education attainment it was placed at 8th position and for economic participation at 19th.

Overall, the survey gave India a score of 3.27 points on a scale of 1-7 where seven represented the top score.

Bangladesh, with just an overall score of 3.74, got the 39th position as it had done well in economic participation (18th rank), educational attainment and health (37) and well-being (37). Its ranking, however, dropped to 53 for economic opportunity and 42 for political empowerment.

China occupied 33rd position with an overall ranking of 4.01 points. Economic participation of women was its strongest point for which it occupied 9th position but for economic opportunity, its position dropped down to 23.

The ranking further went down for political empowerment (40) and educational attainment (46). But was slightly better for health and well-being at 36.

Out of the seven predominantly Muslim nations covered by the study, Bangladesh (39) and Malaysia (40) outperformed Indonesia (46), while Jordan (55), Pakistan (56), Turkey (57) and Egypt (58) occupied the bottom four ranks.

Traditional and deeply conservative attitudes regarding the role of women had made their integration into the world of public decision-making extremely difficult, the survey alleged.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some interesting revelations about Gandhi's attitude toward women, as published in the Guardian newspaper:

During Gandhi's time as a dissident in South Africa, he discovered a male youth had been harassing two of his female followers. Gandhi responded by personally cutting the girls' hair off, to ensure the "sinner's eye" was "sterilised". Gandhi boasted of the incident in his writings, pushing the message to all Indians that women should carry responsibility for sexual attacks upon them. Such a legacy still lingers. In the summer of 2009, colleges in north India reacted to a spate of sexual harassment cases by banning women from wearing jeans, as western-style dress was too "provocative" for the males on campus.

Gandhi believed Indian women who were raped lost their value as human beings. He argued that fathers could be justified in killing daughters who had been sexually assaulted for the sake of family and community honour. He moderated his views towards the end of his life. But the damage was done, and the legacy lingers in every present-day Indian press report of a rape victim who commits suicide out of "shame". Gandhi also waged a war against contraceptives, labelling Indian women who used them as whores.

Like all men who wage a doomed war with their own sexual desires, Gandhi's behaviour around females would eventually become very, very odd. He took to sleeping with naked young women, including his own great-niece, in order to "test" his commitment to celibacy. The habit caused shock and outrage among his supporters. God knows how his wife felt.

Gandhi cemented, for another generation, the attitude that women were simply creatures that could bring either pride or shame to the men who owned them. Again, the legacy lingers. India today, according to the World Economic Forum, finds itself towards the very bottom of the gender equality index. Indian social campaigners battle heroically against such patriarchy. They battle dowry deaths. They battle the honour killings of teenage lovers. They battle Aids. They battle female foeticide and the abandonment of new-born girls.

Rita Banerji said...

The 50 Million Missing Campaign is an initiative to fight female genocide in India. Please visit our website at www.50millionmissing.in and sign the petition there. The only way towards change specially when the crises is this monstrous and out of control, is implementation of laws. So please sign the petition. And join us on facebook and twitter!

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent BBC report about fetus dumping in Gujarat:

Authorities in the western Indian state of Gujarat say they have recovered more than a dozen human foetuses from a rubbish bin in the city of Ahmedabad.

They suspect the foetuses could have been dumped by local abortion clinics which have been conducting illegal sex determination tests.

The unborn babies' bodies have been sent for post-mortem examinations.

It is thought millions of female foetuses may have been aborted in India over the past 20 years.

India, where boys have traditionally been favoured over girls, banned gender selection and selective abortion in 1994.

Ante-natal tests to determine the sex of babies is banned in India but the practice carries on despite the law.

The BBC's Rathin Das in Ahmedabad says the foetuses were found in the east of the city on Monday morning. Some were in broken jars which have been sent for forensic examination.

Our correspondent says the recovery of so many foetuses has raised fears that they could be the result of illegal abortions conducted after sex determination tests confirmed the unborn babies were female.

Female foeticide has led to an unbalanced sex ratio in many northern districts of Gujarat, and in other states in India.

Ahmedabad's chief medical officer said some of the foetuses could have originated from legitimate abortions but that the clinics would then still be guilty of negligently dumping bio-medical waste.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an NDTV report abut alleged honor killing of an Indian woman journalist:

At 23, Nirupama Pathak seemed to have seamlessly made the transition from her small home-town in Jharkhand to big city life. Read: Delhi journalist murdered: Honour killing?)

Supported by her parents, she arrived in Delhi to study journalism at one of the capital's premier institutes. There, she fell in love with a classmate, Priyabhanshu Ranjan. A job at one of India's best-known newspapers, the Business Standard, followed. On Facebook, she commented on political and personal issues. She was easy-going, unpretentious and helpful.

The roots that seemed to ground her rose quickly to strangle her. Nirupama was a Brahmin, her boyfriend a Kayastha. Where she came from, that was enough to stop everything.

Last week, Nirupama's family summoned her home, insisting that her mother, Sudha, was not keeping well. On Thursday night, Nirupama was found dead in her bedroom at her Jharkhand home. Her family said she had committed suicide by hanging herself. The post-mortem clearly spelled murder by asphyxiation. "There are no external injury marks on her, which means that she was probably pinned down by a few people and then smothered," said P Mohan, a surgeon in Nirupama's hometown of Koderma.

Her mother, Sudha, was arrested for her murder and sent to 14-day jail on Monday. Nirupama's father, Dharmendra, says though the family wasn't pleased with her relationship with Priyanshu, because he was from a different caste, he would never hurt his daughter. "You have to first look at your own caste, then you should look elsewhere... but we only advised her," he told NDTV, reiterating that his daughter's death was a suicide.

Riaz Haq said...

In a recently published book "Superfreakonomics", the authors highlight the following points about India:

1. If women could choose their birthplace, India might not a wise choice to be born.

2. In spite of recent economic success and euphoria about India, the people of India remain excruciatingly poor.

3. Literacy is low, corruption is high.

4. Only half the households have electricity.

5. Only one in 4 Indian homes has a toilet.

6. 40% of families with girls want to have more children, but families with boys do not want a baby girl.

7. It's especially unlucky to be born female, baby boy is like a 401 K retirement plan, baby girl requires a dowry fund.

8. Smile train Chennai did cleft repair surgery. A man was asked how many children he had. He said had 1, a boy. It turned out that he had 5 daughters which he did not mention.

9. Indian midwives paid $2.50 to kill girl with cleft deformity

10. Girls are highly undervalued, there are 35 million fewer females than males, presumed dead, killed by midwife or parent or starved to death. Unltrasound are used mainly to find and destroy female fetuses. Ultrasound and abortion are available even in the smallest villages with no electricity or clean water

11. If not aborted, baby girls face inequality and cruelty at every turn,

12. 61% of Indian men say wife beating is justified, 54% women agree, especially when dinner is burned or they leave home without husband's permission.

13. Unwanted pregnancies, STDs, HIV infections happen when 15% o the condoms fail. Indian council of med research found that 60% of Indian men's genitalia are too small by international standards.

14. Indian laws to protect women are widely ignored. The government has tried monetary rewards to keep baby girls and supported microfinance for women. NGOs programs, smaller condoms, other projects have had limited success.

15. People had little interest in State TV due to poor reception or boring programs. But cable television has helped women, as 150 million people between 2001-2006 got cable
TV which gave exposure to world.

16. American economists found that the effect of TV in 2700 households empowered women to be more autonomous. Cable TV households had lower birthrates, less domestic abuse and kept daughter in school.

Riaz Haq said...

Some highlights from the latest Superfreakonomics text:

A baby Indian girl who does grow into adulthood [i.e., who doesn't fall prey to selective abortion or infanticide] faces inequality at nearly every turn. She will earn less money than a man, receive worse health care and less education, and perhaps be subjected to daily atrocities. In a national health survey, 51 percent of Indian men said that wife-beating is justified under certain circumstances; more surprisingly, 54 percent of women agreed — if, for instance, a wife burns dinner or leaves the house without permission.

And:

Unfortunately, most [government and non-government aid] projects have proven complicated, costly, and, at best, nominally successful. A different sort of intervention, meanwhile, does seem to have helped. … It was called television.

And:

Rural Indian families who got cable TV began to have a lower birthrate than families without TV. (In a country like India, a lower birthrate generally means more autonomy for women and fewer health risks.) Families with TV were also more likely to keep their daughters in school, which suggests that girls were seen as more valuable, or at least deserving of equal treatment. (The enrollment rate for boys, notably, didn’t change.) … It appears that cable TV really did empower the women of rural India, even to the point of no longer tolerating domestic abuse. Or maybe their husbands were just too busy watching cricket.

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/02/introducing-the-superfreakonomics-virtual-book-club-meet-emily-oster/comment-page-1/#comment-562005

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a PRB reportthat conflicts with Jensen and Oster:

A new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports on a sex ratio that favors boys among U.S.-born children in Indian, Korean, and Chinese families. Using the 1990 and 2000 decennial censuses, the study found that the ratio of male to female births is much higher if the first child is a girl and even higher, by as much as 50 percent, if the first two children are girls. The normal ratio of males to females at birth is 1.05:1. However, if the first child is a girl, the ratio increases to 1.17:1, and if the first and second children are girls, the ratio increases more dramatically to 1.51:1 in favor of boys. The authors note that this is not evident with white parents and that the trend among the base group was not evident in the 1990 census.

The phenomenon is not unique to Asian immigrants in North America. In 2007, an Oxford University study suggested a similar phenomenon among Indian-born mothers in both England and Wales. It found that the proportion of male to female newborns increased from 103 male births per 100 female births in the 1970s to 114.4 by the end of 2005.

The authors expect the sex ratio to move upward given the recent surge in immigration from Southeast Asia and the availability of new technology that makes sex determination possible within the first five weeks of pregnancy. New reproductive technologies used for sex selection such as embryo screening, sperm sorting, and blood tests have been marketed to Indian expatriates in the United States and Canada in recent publications such as India Abroad and The Indian Express.

Given the small size of the Asian-born population relative to the total U.S. population, the practice is unlikely to have major consequences on the national sex ratio at birth in the short term. However, the implication of such practices might have a profound effect beyond U.S. borders. Since 1994, laws have been in enacted in India banning the use of embryo screening, sperm sorting, and other methods for sex selection, although these are not always strictly enforced. Canada, the UK, China, and the Council of Europe's Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine have all outlawed and condemned any type of sex selection method. However, the U.S. fertility industry remains largely unregulated and American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommendations on the ethical use of the technology are largely ignored by practitioners.

http://www.prb.org/Articles/2008/sexratioatbirth.aspx

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a recent Washington Post report about honor killings:

Last year, officials in Haryana recorded about 100 honor killings of young people caught in the war between clan, caste, culture and cupid. Banwala's case is the first honor-killing trial to secure a verdict, although a similar trial is underway. In that case, four people are accused of beating and hacking a young man to death with sticks, sickles and scythes last year after he married a woman from a neighboring village, a relationship villagers also regarded as incest.

In 2008, a judge in Haryana and Punjab, Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia, said the number of "couples hiding themselves in the corridors of court" had risen in recent years. In response, the government set up hotlines and opened shelters for the runaway couples.

Mewa Singh Mor, the president of all clan councils in Haryana, said the councils do not order killings but often ostracize and boycott the defiant couples and their families.

"It is a shame that so many girls and boys are eloping nowadays, under the influence of TV and movies. Our constitution tells our youth what their rights are but says nothing about their social duties," he said. "These couples are like an epidemic. They are destroying our social fabric."

Jagmati Sangwan, a social activist, said the council meetings are "frightening, Taliban-type" gatherings that bar women but announce stern decisions on matters that directly concern them.

"There are seeds of an egalitarian society in such self-choice marriages, and these councils cannot tolerate that," said Sangwan, director of the women's studies center at the Maharishi Dayanand University in Haryana. "Victims of honor crimes fear filing a police complaint, and witnesses are hard to find. Sometimes the police dismiss them, saying it is a private, community matter. We want to break the social acceptance that honor crimes and killings enjoy."

Meanwhile, the court has posted two security guards outside Chanderpati Banwala's home. She has a fresh battle ahead when a higher court hears the defendants' appeal. "I will not give up. I want to teach them a lesson, so that innocent young couples are not killed again in the name of tradition," she said. "Now I trust only the court and God."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a piece by BBC's Soutik Biswas on frequent honor killings in India:

For many years, urban Indians believed such "honour killings" only happened in remote rural areas, mainly in the northern states of Haryana, Punjab and parts of Uttar Pradesh. Now, they are being reported from the capital Delhi - two couples and a girl in the past week alone. At least 26 others have been killed in Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh in the past 18 months. In neighbouring Punjab, one of India's most prosperous states, police records talk about 34 "honour killings" during the past two and half years - that's one killing a month. The police admit that many more killings may go unreported.

Sociologists say the rising number of such killings point to a collision between the old and young, the orthodox and the modern, between old India, residing in its villages, and new India, thriving in its cities. They say as India becomes more urbanised, young men and women flock to its crowded cities, looking for work and love, far away from the watchful eyes of their elders and communities. They go to work, and often, fall in love, and invite retribution from their families.

So, very often, such freedom is short lived, as the boys and girls are duped into "meetings" by their families and relatives only to end up being killed brutally. The majority of the murders, police say, are carried out by the girl's family - the family's "honour", the families say, is at stake when their daughters get involved with lower caste men. The killers and their kin are frighteningly unrepentant about murdering their own. "I have no regrets," the uncle of one of the girls whom he allegedly killed recently told journalists, "I will punish them all over again if given another chance."

So what about the myth about that "honour killings" happen only in villages? In this age of globalisation, India lives with one foot in the villages, and the other in cities. Urbanisation is incomplete; there is a lot of urban-rural overlap. Entire families do not migrate to cities, and links with villages remain strong. So although there is more freedom for youngsters to work and mingle in cities, if they end up chosing partners of a lower caste, their elders and communities who live in villages can easily object. "It is a ressertion of community control over those individuals and families on which elements of democracy, capitalism and globalised economy have encroached," says Prem Chowdhry, a scholar who has investigated such killings for decades.

"Honour killings" are not merely about caste. Sociologists believe it's also about sections of the society that are intensely anti-women. In Haryana - the state with possibly the highest number of cases - more women have begun working. Expansion of women in the workforce between 1981 and 1991 was 63%; the increase of men in the workforce during the same period was 26%. Educated women, many village collective heads tell privately, are a "menace".

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece by Soutik Biswas of BBC on gender discrimination in India:

Are the lives of housewives cheaper than those of their husbands in India? Going by the evidence, yes.

Families of housewives who die in road accidents end up receiving less compensation than those of working men. In a recent case, the Motor Accidents' Tribunal more than halved the compensation the family of a deceased homemaker was entitled to.
This, despite the husband's plea that she was earning money by working from home, and that her death had led to the family losing emotional support, love and affection.

Last week, the Supreme Court ordered higher compensation, after the husband challenged the appeal. In an emphatic and sensitive judgement it said:

The gratuitous services rendered by the wife with true love and affection to the children and her husband and managing the household affairs cannot be equated with the services rendered by others.

A wife/mother does not work by the clock. She is in constant attendance of the family throughout the day and night unless she is employed and is required to attend the employer's work for particular hours.

She takes care of all the requirements of husband and children including cooking of food, washing of clothes, etc. She teaches small children and provides invaluable guidance to them for their future life.

The odds are heavily stacked against women in India anyway. It remains a nation of stay-at-home wives, though more women are going out to work. Housewives play a key role in keeping families together in a country with virtually no government-aided social security. A 2008 study showed barely 13% of women - between 18 and 59 years - work.

Only 18% of women work in the organised sector, the majority in farms. Just 10% of seats in parliament are held by women. Only 9% of companies have any participation by women in ownership. No wonder India ranked a lowly 116 in the 179-country Gender Development Index in 2006.

Riaz Haq said...

The hunger and poverty among women and children in India is much worse than in Pakistan and worse than the poorest of the poor in sub-Saharan Africa.

Here's a summary of the situation of women India by the World Hunger Project:

Executive Summary

The persistence of hunger and abject poverty in India and other parts of the world is due in large measure to the subjugation, marginalization and disempowerment of women. Women suffer from hunger and poverty in greater numbers and to a great degree then men. At the same time, it is women who bear the primary responsibility for actions needed to end hunger: education, nutrition, health and family income.

Looking through the lens of hunger and poverty, there are seven major areas of discrimination against women in India:

Malnutrition: India has exceptionally high rates of child malnutrition, because tradition in India requires that women eat last and least throughout their lives, even when pregnant and lactating. Malnourished women give birth to malnourished children, perpetuating the cycle.

Poor Health: Females receive less health care than males. Many women die in childbirth of easily prevented complications. Working conditions and environmental pollution further impairs women's health.

Lack of education: Families are far less likely to educate girls than boys, and far more likely to pull them out of school, either to help out at home or from fear of violence.

Overwork: Women work longer hours and their work is more arduous than men's, yet their work is unrecognized. Men report that "women, like children, eat and do nothing." Technological progress in agriculture has had a negative impact on women.

Unskilled: In women's primary employment sector - agriculture - extension services overlook women.

Mistreatment: In recent years, there has been an alarming rise in atrocities against women in India, in terms of rapes, assaults and dowry-related murders. Fear of violence suppresses the aspirations of all women. Female infanticide and sex-selective abortions are additional forms of violence that reflect the devaluing of females in Indian society.

Powerlessness: While women are guaranteed equality under the constitution, legal protection has little effect in the face of prevailing patriarchal traditions. Women lack power to decide who they will marry, and are often married off as children. Legal loopholes are used to deny women inheritance rights.

India has a long history of activism for women's welfare and rights, which has increasingly focused on women's economic rights. A range of government programs have been launched to increase economic opportunity for women, although there appear to be no existing programs to address the cultural and traditional discrimination against women that leads to her abject conditions.


http://www.thp.org/where_we_work/south_asia/india/research_reports/chronic_hunger_and_status_of_women

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from gendercide.org on female genocide in India:

As John-Thor Dahlburg points out, "in rural India, the centuries-old practice of female infanticide can still be considered a wise course of action." (Dahlburg, "Where killing baby girls 'is no big sin'," The Los Angeles Times [in The Toronto Star, February 28, 1994.]) According to census statistics, "From 972 females for every 1,000 males in 1901 ... the gender imbalance has tilted to 929 females per 1,000 males. ... In the nearly 300 poor hamlets of the Usilampatti area of Tamil Nadu [state], as many as 196 girls died under suspicious circumstances [in 1993] ... Some were fed dry, unhulled rice that punctured their windpipes, or were made to swallow poisonous powdered fertilizer. Others were smothered with a wet towel, strangled or allowed to starve to death." Dahlburg profiles one disturbing case from Tamil Nadu:

Lakshmi already had one daughter, so when she gave birth to a second girl, she killed her. For the three days of her second child's short life, Lakshmi admits, she refused to nurse her. To silence the infant's famished cries, the impoverished village woman squeezed the milky sap from an oleander shrub, mixed it with castor oil, and forced the poisonous potion down the newborn's throat. The baby bled from the nose, then died soon afterward. Female neighbors buried her in a small hole near Lakshmi's square thatched hut of sunbaked mud. They sympathized with Lakshmi, and in the same circumstances, some would probably have done what she did. For despite the risk of execution by hanging and about 16 months of a much-ballyhooed government scheme to assist families with daughters, in some hamlets of ... Tamil Nadu, murdering girls is still sometimes believed to be a wiser course than raising them. "A daughter is always liabilities. How can I bring up a second?" Lakshmi, 28, answered firmly when asked by a visitor how she could have taken her own child's life eight years ago. "Instead of her suffering the way I do, I thought it was better to get rid of her." (All quotes from Dahlburg, "Where killing baby girls 'is no big sin'.")

Riaz Haq said...

Here is an excerpt from an interesting commentary by Soutik Biswas of BBC:

Incidentally, many of India's sterling performances came from women, including badminton star Saina Nehwal, who picked up the badminton singles gold. Many of India's medal-winning women athletes came from the northern state of Haryana, which has some of the worst rates of female foeticide in the country. These girls can drive change in this benighted region better than the politicians.

That was not all. The once glorious field hockey team - undefeated in the Olympic Games between 1928 and 1956, winning six gold medals in succession - which has been on a comeback of sorts made it to the finals before being thrashed by Australia. (The team had returned empty handed from the three Commonwealth Games ever since hockey was introduced in 1998)

One hopes that India's apathetic sports officials will build on the success of its athletes and begin treating them better with more incentives, increased funding and improved infrastructure. The legacy of the Delhi games will depend on this alone. The expensive stadia and other state-of-the-art infrastructure could easily turn out to be white elephants, decaying away in neglect, if they are not used to showcase and train athletes regularly. Half of India's one billion population is under the age of 25. Can there be any other country in the world with such untapped sporting potential?

It is tempting to suggest that India's success at the games have happened despite the system - even after the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi, sports has remained mired in politics, nepotism, provincialism and corruption. Governments don't appear to be interested in nurturing sports seriously by tapping talent at the grassroots and setting up academies. Will the Delhi games help in ushering in a new sports culture in India?

There's still a lot of catching up to do, as sports writer Suresh Menon points out. One sobering example: the 100m track record in India is 10.3 seconds, achieved in 2005. Canadian Percy Williams clocked that record in 1930. So India trails by 75 years in that event. Or take China. Since 1984, India has won three Olympic medals. China has won 420. India's athletes have shown a lot of promise at Delhi, but it's still a long way to the top. Will the authorities now wake up - and do their job?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Times of India report on UNDP gender gap report indicating Bangladesh and Pakistan doing better than India:

NEW DELHI: Believe it or not when it comes to gender inequities India fares worse than Pakistan. In fact, the country fares lower than all other countries in South Asia save Afghanistan. These are the findings of the 2010 Human Development Report released by the United Nations Development Programme on Thursday as per its Gender Inequality Index.

So while Pakistan may be in the news for its treatment of women and might have become a hot bed for international women's activism, it certainly seems to know how to take care of its mothers better. On maternal mortality, India -- with its abysmal record -- trails Pakistan.

Reproductive health is the largest contributor to the inequality index. The other indicators, based on which it is calculated, include women's participation in the labour force, their level of empowerment based on educational attainment and parliamentary representation.

For maternal mortality, the figure for Pakistan is 320 deaths per 100,000 live births. In India, the corresponding figure stands at 450. The country also falters on adolescent fertility rate, another indicator of reproductive health.

As per this data, in India the adolescent fertility rate is 68 births per 1,000 live births as compared to 45 births per 1,000 live births in Pakistan. The figures illustrate that Pakistan have fewer younger mothers.

India, however, does better in female participation in the labour force, with the figure being 36% for the nation as opposed to 23% for Pakistan.

However, the country has been really found wanting on the health front.

India ranks 122 among 138 countries for which the gender inequality measure has been calculated. Pakistan is at 116, and Bangladesh is a notch higher at 112.

The other area, where India needs to do better is at the level of Parliamentary participation. India, the reports states, stands out as an exception where 30% local government seats are reserved for women. However, participation at this level has not been incorporated in the report. If India wants to fare better on this front, then Congress President Sonia Gandhi will have to keep her promise of ensuring reservation for women in Parliament and the legislative assemblies.

After all, most countries where women have found more places in Parliament are those where affirmative action has been put in place like Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and even Rwanda.

Riaz Haq said...

Anil Verma, an Indian diplomat in India, was reported for beating his wife. Here's the Times of India story:

In London, when contacted about MEA's directive, the Indian high commission said, "at this stage, we have no comment to make". Verma was not available for comments.

Verma allegedly attacked his wife after a heated argument last month, Daily Mail had reported.

A British daily on Sunday reported that Verma's wife, Paromita was found screaming with blood coming out of her nose. Her clothes were covered in blood and she had grabbed a tea towel to stem the flow.

The 'Daily Mail' also reported that Paromita has gone into hiding with her five-year-old son as she fears for her life. She left the home soon after the incident and has not returned since then.

"Throughout their time over here, Anil would boast about his diplomatic immunity and he would tell Paromita that no one could touch him because of it. He would goad her and say, 'Call the police as many times as you want. I've got diplomatic immunity'.

"He was shameless with it. He has been given so much power and he is abusing it. Paromita has gone into hiding and seriously fears that her safety and health are in jeopardy," a close family friend of the Vermas was quoted by the British newspaper as saying.

Paromita, who is working with Indian Railways and is on study leave, wants to remain in the UK on humanitarian grounds amid fears that she would be forcibly taken back to India. She has now sought extention of leave, a the daily said.

Verma is the third senior-most in the Indian mission after the high commissioner and the deputy high commissioner.

After the incident came to light, the MEA had said the high commission of India and the ministry were aware of it and were carefully looking into it.

"It involves sensitive and personal issues pertaining to individuals," it had said.

Recollecting the day of incident, Verma's family friend was quoted by the daily as saying in London, "Anil suddenly blew up on the morning of the incident. He was in his pyjamas and suddenly flew into a rage over the fact that there was a Christmas tree in the house that had been given to them from one of Paromita's relatives.

"He stormed up the stairs to grab the tree and throw it out but Paromita followed and tried to stop him because their son had been decorating it. He suddenly turned round and punched her full in the face, very hard. Paromita almost fell down the stairs but grabbed on to the bannister to steady herself.

"She was screaming and blood was pouring from her nose like a tap. Her clothes were covered in blood and she grabbed a tea towel to stem the flow. Anil did not say a word to her and did not seem to care. He started shouting at Paromita's mother, who was also in the house, abusing her too.

"The front door was open and Paromita ran outside, where her neighbours found her. They called the police and an ambulance also arrived at the scene. Neighbours took her into their house to comfort her until the police arrived," the daily said.

Police were called to the family's home in Golders Green, NorthWest London. Officers questioned the diplomat but they were powerless to arrest him because of his diplomatic status.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian story of women's abuse in the name of Hindu religion in India:

Parvatamma is a devadasi, or servant of god, as shown by the red-and-white beaded necklace around her neck. Dedicated to the goddess Yellamma when she was 10 at the temple in Saundatti, southern India, she cannot marry a mortal. When she reached puberty, the devadasi tradition dictated that her virginity was sold to the highest bidder and when she had a daughter at 14 she was sent to work in the red light district in Mumbai.

Parvatamma regularly sent money home, but saw her child only a few times in the following decade. Now 26 and diagnosed with Aids, she has returned to her village, Mudhol in southern India, weak and unable to work. "We are a cursed community. Men use us and throw us away," she says. Applying talcum powder to her daughter's face and tying ribbons to her hair, she says: "I am going to die soon and then who will look after her?" The daughter of a devadasi, Parvatamma plans to dedicate her own daughter to Yellamma, a practice that is now outlawed in India.

Each January, nearly half a million people visit the small town of Saundatti for a jatre or festival, to be blessed by Yellamma, the Hindu goddess of fertility. The streets leading to the temple are lined with shops selling sacred paraphernalia – glass bangles, garlands, coconuts and heaped red and yellow kunkuma, a dye that devotees smear on their foreheads. The older women are called jogathis and are said to be intermediaries between the goddess and the people. They all start their working lives as devadasis and most of them would have been initiated at this temple.

Girls from poor families of the "untouchable", or lower, caste are "married" to Yellamma as young as four. No longer allowed to marry a mortal, they are expected to bestow their entire lives to the service of the goddess.

The devadasi system has been part of southern Indian life for many centuries. A veneer of religion covers the supply of concubines to wealthy men. Trained in classical music and dance, the devadasis lived in comfortable houses provided by a patron, usually a prominent man in the village. Their situation changed as the tradition was made illegal across India in 1988, and the temple itself has publicly distanced itself from their plight.
---------
Chennawa, now 65 and blind, is forced to live on morsels of food given by devotees. "I was first forced to sleep with a man when I was 12," she says. "I was happy that I was with Yellamma. I supported my mother, sisters and brother. But look at my fate now." She touches her begging bowl to check if people have thrown her anything. "My mother, a devadasi herself, dedicated me to Yellamma and left me on the streets to be kicked, beaten and raped. I don't want this goddess any more, just let me die."

Riaz Haq said...

A horror tale of a 17-year-old girl living in slavery and abused for nearly five years by a businessman's family for a mere Rs 7,000 has surfaced in the city on the eve of the Republic Day, according to Times of India.

The girl was rescued last Thursday by volunteers of Childline, an NGO, and is now undergoing rehabilitation in the state government's Karuna women's shelter home on Katol Road.

The matter is under investigation by the Koradi police who are, however, yet to register an offence.

According to activists of Childline, the girl (name withheld) was virtually pawned with the family of businessman Rajesh Janiani, a resident of Mankapur, some five years ago when she was just 12-years-old. Her mother Sita (name changed on request), a resident of Lashkaribagh, desperately needed money for the treatment of her elder daughter Sunita, then 14, who was later diagnosed with brain tumour. Sita works as domestic help in some houses. Her husband, a habitual alcoholic, does no work.

Sita approached the Janianis through a neighbour Sheela who used to work as domestic help with them. Janianis apparently extended a loan of Rs 7000 to Sita. They asked her to let her children work with them for some time in order to repay the loan. Sita says she agreed since it was summer vacation and sent her daughter and son to work with Janianis who run a grocery store in Sadar.

Initially, the girl was first sent to Agra for six months to look after a handicapped relative of the Janianis. After the person's death, she was brought to the city.

Sita says since then she was not allowed to meet her daughter. Janianis allegedly kept the girl at their home while her brother was employed at their shop. Both suffered frequent beatings at the slightest pretext. The girl has revealed to her rescuers that she was given just four rotis with pickles every two days to eat and a cup of tea with one biscuit in the morning.

Childline volunteers said neighbours had confirmed hearing the girl being beaten up by the Janianis and crying. The couple's two grown up sons, both in their 20s, too used to beat her up. Whenever the family went out, the girl would be locked up in the store room with a stock of rotis and water to last her for the period of the outing. On Wednesday, the Janianis were all set to go to Goa for a vacation after locking her up thus.

After suffering abuse for about two years, her brother ran away to Bilaspur. A missing complaint was lodged about this but he returned on his own about a week later and resumed working with the Janianis. Since then, Sita says he did not suffer beatings and was working in Janiani's shop only during the day. They were not allowed to meet the girl though.

According to Sita, whenever she went to see her daughter, she was sent away on some excuse or only shown the girl from a distance. She was all the time assured the girl was fine.

Sita says the kids were not paid anything for their work. She continued with the arrangement even after the loan amount was settled because she thought the girl was being taken care of and was even getting some education. When for prolonged period, Sita could not see her daughter she became apprehensive.

She says she even went to the Koradi police who did not entertain her complaint. Sita approached the crime branch a few days ago but the cops here too made perfunctory enquiries with Janianis who told them they did not have any girl in the house. Finally she was helped by Aruna Gajbhiye, principal of Tirpude College of Social Work, who suggested that she approach Childline, a central government initiative to help children in distress run with the help of NGOs.

Riaz Haq said...

The best way to subvert the status quo and spark a revolution is to invest in girl's education, argues Nancy Gibbs in Time magazine:

We know what the birth of a revolution looks like: A student stands before a tank. A fruit seller sets himself on fire. A line of monks link arms in a human chain. Crowds surge, soldiers fire, gusts of rage pull down the monuments of tyrants, and maybe, sometimes, justice rises from the flames.

But sometimes freedom and opportunity slip in through the back door, when a quieter subversion of the status quo unleashes change that is just as revolutionary. This is the tantalizing idea for activists concerned with poverty, with disease, with the rise of violent extremism: if you want to change the world, invest in girls.

In recent years, more development aid than ever before has been directed at women--but that doesn't mean it is reaching the girls who need it. Across much of the developing world, by the time she is 12, a girl is tending house, cooking, cleaning. She eats what's left after the men and boys have eaten; she is less likely to be vaccinated, to see a doctor, to attend school. "If only I can get educated, I will surely be the President," a teenager in rural Malawi tells a researcher, but the odds are against her: Why educate a daughter who will end up working for her in-laws rather than a son who will support you? In sub-Saharan Africa, fewer than 1 in 5 girls make it to secondary school. Nearly half are married by the time they are 18; 1 in 7 across the developing world marries before she is 15. Then she gets pregnant. The leading cause of death for girls 15 to 19 worldwide is not accident or violence or disease; it is complications from pregnancy. Girls under 15 are up to five times as likely to die while having children than are women in their 20s, and their babies are more likely to die as well.......
A more surprising army is being enlisted as well. A new initiative called Girl Up girlup.org aims to mobilize 100,000 American girls to raise money and awareness to fight poverty, sexual violence and child marriage. "This generation of 12-to-18-year-olds are all givers," says executive director Elizabeth Gore, the force of nature behind the ingeniously simple Nothing but Nets campaign to fight malaria, about her new United Nations Foundation enterprise. "They gave after Katrina. They gave after the tsunami and Haiti. More than any earlier generation, they feel they know girls around the world."

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some interesting revelations about Gandhi's attitude toward women, as published in the Guardian newspaper:

During Gandhi's time as a dissident in South Africa, he discovered a male youth had been harassing two of his female followers. Gandhi responded by personally cutting the girls' hair off, to ensure the "sinner's eye" was "sterilised". Gandhi boasted of the incident in his writings, pushing the message to all Indians that women should carry responsibility for sexual attacks upon them. Such a legacy still lingers. In the summer of 2009, colleges in north India reacted to a spate of sexual harassment cases by banning women from wearing jeans, as western-style dress was too "provocative" for the males on campus.

Gandhi believed Indian women who were raped lost their value as human beings. He argued that fathers could be justified in killing daughters who had been sexually assaulted for the sake of family and community honour. He moderated his views towards the end of his life. But the damage was done, and the legacy lingers in every present-day Indian press report of a rape victim who commits suicide out of "shame". Gandhi also waged a war against contraceptives, labelling Indian women who used them as whores.

Like all men who wage a doomed war with their own sexual desires, Gandhi's behaviour around females would eventually become very, very odd. He took to sleeping with naked young women, including his own great-niece, in order to "test" his commitment to celibacy. The habit caused shock and outrage among his supporters. God knows how his wife felt.

Gandhi cemented, for another generation, the attitude that women were simply creatures that could bring either pride or shame to the men who owned them. Again, the legacy lingers. India today, according to the World Economic Forum, finds itself towards the very bottom of the gender equality index. Indian social campaigners battle heroically against such patriarchy. They battle dowry deaths. They battle the honour killings of teenage lovers. They battle Aids. They battle female foeticide and the abandonment of new-born girls.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/27/mohandas-gandhi-women-india

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an article from Peacework magazine about Mohandas K. Gandhi's misogyny and racism:

To make a hero out of someone dehumanizes them almost as much as demonizing them does. It serves no one to turn Mohandas Gandhi into a plaster saint (or a stone Ganesh).

Many of Gandhi’s statements and actions were reprehensible, some of which are mentioned elsewhere in this issue (such as the treatment of his children [5], see page 10). There isn’t space for a full critique, but a few themes are important to mention. One of Gandhi’s contributions to nonviolent thought is the idea that a true dedication to nonviolence requires striving for the complicated truth. As we appreciate Mohandas Gandhi’s many contributions to the development of nonviolent struggle, we can’t, if we are to appraise his legacy honestly, ignore his faults as well.

Gandhi campaigned vigorously to include women in every non-cooperation campaign, and organized against purdah. Yet, Gandhi, in his old age, regularly slept naked next to young girls, including his nieces, in order, he said, to test his commitment to brahmacharya, or celibacy. No matter how some try to contextualize these actions, from my perspective, he was abusing these girls.
Editor's Note: The following additional paragraph was edited from the printed version for reasons of space:

---------
His views about rape were misogynist. Gandhi wrote in Harijan, for example, that women “must develop courage enough to die rather than yield to the brute in man.” Gandhi claimed, if women are fearless, “However beastly the man, he will bow in shame before the flame of her dazzling purity.”

Gandhi opposed contraception (he had a famous debate with Margaret Sanger [6] on the subject). His “idealization” of women as being superior at self-sacrifice, a quality he saw as being required of satyagrahis, is another form of stereotyping (See also Starhawk's trenchant feminist critique of Gandhian self-sacrifice [7] in this issue).

Gandhi often utilized racist arguments to advance the cause of Indians in South Africa. For example, addressing a public meeting in Bombay on September 26, 1896, following his return from South Africa, Gandhi said, “Ours is one continued struggle against degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the European, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw kaffir [8], whose occupation is hunting and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with, and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness.” (Collected Works, Volume II, page 74). The word kaffir (or keffir) is a derogatory term used in South Africa for native Africans. Gandhi never, as far as I’ve read, publicly opposed the racist oppression of black Africans in South Africa.

Pacifism?

Gandhi was, at best, an inconsistent pacifist, in the sense of opposing all wars, a fact pointed out by pacifists such as Bart de Ligt in the 1930s. Gandhi supported the British war effort in several wars, including the Boer War, the Zulu Rebellion (though he later came to believe the British were wrong in that struggle), and World War I. His role was mainly to organize and participate in ambulance corps, but his personal participation earned him the British Empire’s War Medal. Even after he proclaimed “war is wrong, is an unmitigated evil,” he defended his participation based on his perceived “duty as a citizen of the British Empire.” He acknowledged that he was “guilty of the crime of war,” and eventually repudiated the Empire, but didn’t repudiate his actions. (See Gandhi on War and Peace, by Rashmi-Sudha Puri).

While Gandhi undeniably campaigned vigorously against untouchability, Dalit leaders such as Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar opposed the use of Gandhi’s term for “untouchables” (“harijan,” or “children of god”) as condescending, and claimed Gandhi never fully renounced a caste-based worldview.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts from a BBC report on India Census 2011:

India's population has grown by 181 million people over the past decade to 1.21bn, according to the 2011 census.

More people now live in India than in the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan and Bangladesh combined.

India is on course to overtake China as the world's most populous nation by 2030, but its growth rate is falling, figures show. China has 1.3bn people.

The census also reveals a continuing preference for boys - India's sex ratio is at its worst since independence.

Female foeticide remains common in India, although sex-selective abortion based on ultrasound scans is illegal. Sons are still seen by many as wage-earners for the future.

Statistics show fewer girls than boys are being born or surviving. The gender imbalance has widened every decade since independence in 1947.

According to the 2011 census, 914 girls were born for every 1,000 boys under the age of six, compared with 927 for every 1,000 boys in the 2001 census.

"This is a matter of grave concern," Census Commissioner C Chandramauli told a press conference in the capital, Delhi.

Government officials said they would review all their policies towards this issue, which they admitted were failing.

Indians now make up 17% of the world's population. Uttar Pradesh remains its most populous state, with 199 million people.

The statistics show India's massive population growing at a significant rate - 181 million is roughly equivalent to the entire population of Brazil.

But the rate of that growth is slower than at any time since 1947. The 2011 census charts a population increase of 17.6%, compared with one of 21.5% over the previous decade.

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Delhi says the slowing growth rate suggests that efforts to promote birth control and female education are working.

In the field of education there was good news, with the census showing the literacy rate going up to 74% from about 65% in the last count.

India launched the 2011 census last year. The exercise costs in the region of 22bn rupees ($490m; £300m).

Some 2.7 million officials visited households in about 7,000 towns and 600,000 villages, classifying the population according to gender, religion, education and occupation.

The exercise, conducted every 10 years, faces big challenges, not least India's vast area and diversity of cultures.

Census officials also have to contend with high levels of illiteracy and millions of homeless people - as well as insurgencies by Maoists and other rebels which have left large parts of the country unsafe.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Soutik Biswas of the BBC on India Census 2011:

The good news is that at 17.64%, the rate of growth between 2001-2011 represents the sharpest decline over a decade since Independence. The growth rate was at its lowest between 1941-1951 when it was 13.3%: that was a time of famine, religious killings, and the transfer of populations in the run-up to partition. The growth rate was more than 24% between 1961 and 1981. So a 17.64% growth rate points to a slowing down that will cheer those who are concerned about how India will bear the burden of its massive population.

The bad news for those with such concerns is that India still has more than a billion people, and this number is rising. Indian politicians and policy planners speak eloquently about how this population will fetch demographic dividends, and ensure India's growth story.

But such optimism can be unfounded if the state is found wanting in the way that it is. It is very easy, warn social scientists, for this demographic dividend to turn into a deficit with millions of uneducated, unskilled and unemployed young people on the streets, angry and a threat to peace and social stability. "There is nothing to brag about our population growing and crossing China. Do we know how we are going to skill all these people?" That is the question of India's top demographer, Ashish Bose.

The government would like to say that the dip in population growth has to do with pushing a successful contraception programme in the country. But social scientists say that with rising urbanisation, it is no surprise that population growth is on the decline. Increasing urbanisation leads to nuclear families in small homes paying high rents in increasingly expensive cities. Having more children does not help matters.

The biggest shock in this census is the decline in the child gender ratio at 914 girls (up to six years) for every 1000 boys. This is the lowest since Independence and it looks like a precipitous drop from a high of 976 girls in the 1961 census.

Social scientists and demographers believe that the decline in the number of girls all over the country - in 27 states and union territories - points to deeply entrenched social attitudes towards women, despite economic liberalisation and increasing work opportunities.

They link sex determination tests and female foeticide - banned in India, but still quite widespread due to lax enforcement - to the rising costs of dowry, a practice which even the burgeoning middle classes have been unable to get rid of. "Marriages have become costlier, dowries have been pricier, so there is a lot of social resistance to having girl children in the family," says Mr Bose.

Pavan said...

Interesting. The highest number of births are taking place in the
lowest quintile of the population primarily because infant mortality
is very high. In other words we are adding more to the poor.
Interestingly, the overall sex ratio has increased from 933 to 940 per
thousand malesinspite of the fact that lesser girls are being born. I
had studied this earlier. This is on account of the large number of
adult males dying early on account of substance abuse (1.2 million),
road accidents (over 100,000), insurgencies, cardio-vascular disease
etc. Pavan

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Newsweek piece by Nial Ferguson titled "Men Without Women":

In 1927, Ernest Hemingway published a collection of short stories titled Men Without Women. Today, less than a century later, it sums up the predicament of a rising proportion of mankind.

According to the United Nations, there are far more men than women on the planet. The gender gap is especially pronounced in Asia, where there are 100 million more guys than girls. This may come as a surprise to people in the Western world, where women outnumber men because—other things being equal—the mortality rate for women is lower than for men in all age groups. Nobel Prize–winning economist Amartya Sen calls it the mystery of Asia’s “missing women.”

The mystery is partly explicable in terms of economics. In many Asian societies, girls are less well looked after than boys because they are economically undervalued. The kind of domestic work they typically do is seen as less important than paid work done by men. And, of course, early marriage and minimal birth control together expose them to the risks of multiple pregnancies.

When Sen first added up the missing women—women who would exist today if it were not for selective abortion, infanticide, and economic discrimination—he put the number at 100 million. It is surely higher now. For, even as living standards in Asian countries have soared, the gender gap has widened. That’s because a cultural preference for sons over daughters leads to selective abortion of female fetuses, a practice made possible by ultrasound scanning, and engaged in despite legal prohibitions. The American feminist Mary Anne Warren called it “gendercide.” Notoriously common in northwestern India, it’s also rampant in the world’s most populous country: China.

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The question left open by economists is what the consequences will be of such a large surplus of young men. History offers a disquieting answer. According to the German scholar Gunnar Heinsohn, European imperial expansion after 1500 was the result of a male “youth bulge.” Japan’s imperial expansion after 1914 was the result of a similar youth bulge, Heinsohn argues. During the Cold War, it was youth-bulge countries—Algeria, El Salvador, and Lebanon—that saw the worst civil wars and revolutions. Heinsohn has also linked the recent rise of Islamist extremism in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan to an Islamic youth bulge. Political scientists Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer warn that China and India could be the next countries to overdose on testosterone.

That has scary implications. Remember, most of Hemingway’s stories in Men Without Women are about violence. They feature gangsters, bullfighters, and wounded soldiers. The most famous story is called simply “The Killers.”

It may be that the coming generation of Asian men without women will find harmless outlets for their inevitable frustrations, like team sports or videogames. But I doubt it. Either this bachelor generation will be a source of domestic instability, whether Brazilian-style crime or Arab-style revolution—or, as happened in Europe, they and their testosterone will be exported. There’s already enough shrill nationalism in Asia as it is. Don’t be surprised if, in the next generation, it takes the form of macho militarism and even imperialism. Lock up your daughters.

Riaz Haq said...

Two widows have been bludgeoned to death by a man in the northern Indian state of Haryana, according to a BBC report:

Police arrested a 23-year-old man, the nephew of one of the women. He was on parole, having served a sentence for rape.

Eyewitnesses told police he killed his aunt and another woman in full view of other villagers, after he accused them of being in a lesbian relationship.

Haryana is a deeply conservative and patriarchal region.

Correspondents say that so-called "honour killings" are relatively common in the area.

There have been numerous cases in rural Haryana where women - and men - defying age-old notions of tradition and family honour have been ostracised, murdered or even publicly lynched, correspondents say.

The latest killings happened late on Sunday at Ranila village.

The accused reportedly began beating one of the women, identified as 35-year-old Suman, with a wooden club after accusing her of having an "unnatural affair" with his aunt Shakuntala, eyewitnesses told the police.

A few minutes later, he dragged his aunt onto the village street and beat her to death in front of local villagers who were too scared to intervene, local journalists say.

The two bled to death as the villagers watched.

"[He] threatened other villagers not to help the widows or call for medical help," a police official said.

Police said he later told them that the women were of "loose character" and that they "deserved their fate".

He said he had killed the women to protect his "family's honour".


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13125674

Riaz Haq said...

Indian woman gang raped and set alight in Uttar Pradeash, according to the < href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13835838BBC:

A woman has been gang raped and burnt alive in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, police say, the latest in a series of brutal but unrelated attacks on women there.

The woman's family says five men gang-raped her and then set her alight in her own home in Etah district.

In the past week there have been three violent attacks on women in the state.

Correspondents say Uttar Pradesh is one of India's most lawless states where women are accorded a very low status.

On Friday a 14-year-old girl was stabbed in the eye as she fought off two men who attempted to rape her.

The teenager was attacked in Gadwa Buzurg village in the Kannauj district of the northern state. She lost one eye and the other was also seriously damaged.

Police say the attackers were from her own village. Only one has been arrested so far and police said they were looking for the second man.

Two policemen in the area, who initially refused to lodge the parents' complaint, have been suspended.

Last week, a girl's body was found hanging from a tree on police premises in the Nighasan area of Lakhimpur district.

The girl's parents alleged that she was raped and murdered and that the police had offered them a bribe to keep quiet.

In the latest incident the woman, who was in her thirties, was sitting outside her home when five men dragged her inside the house and gang-raped her, according to her family.

Her family say the attackers sprinkled kerosene on her and set her on fire because the woman had recognised them and they were afraid of being caught.

The woman managed to give a statement to police but died shortly afterwards.

Police say they are are still looking for the attackers.

Earlier this year, the head of the National Commission for Women, Girija Vyas, said Uttar Pradesh was at the top of the list when it came to violent crimes against women.

State authorities have been criticised in recent years after several attacks on women and girls were reported.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13835838

Riaz Haq said...

As if female genocide and world's most child marriages weren't enough, here's yet another example of rampant misogyny in India:

A 17-year-old Indian girl who was allegedly forced by her father to have sex for money with up to 200 men has described her ordeal to the media.

Police in the southern Indian state of Kerala arrested her father and 29 other people two weeks ago.

The girl said she was raped by her father, starved and forced by him to have sex with other men.

Her father has not made any public comment. Police have vowed to hunt down the men alleged to have paid for sex.

They have despatched special police teams to find up to 70 men she has named and accused of paying to have sex with her. These are said to include contractors, film producers and policemen.

"My father first raped me when my mum was not home. Later he started taking me out to different locations, saying I'll get a chance to act in movies," the girl told a local television channel.

She says that when her mother found out, her father threatened to kill the entire family unless her mother kept silent. Police have arrested the mother for not disclosing a crime.

"The government will not allow anyone to escape the law," Chief Minister Oomen Chandy said.

The girl was finally rescued when other relatives discovered what was going on and informed the police. She is currently in a shelter where she is undergoing treatment for depression, police say.

"We will do whatever we can to bring her back to normal life. She wants to complete schooling and lead a good life," said Dr MK Muneer, the minister for social welfare in the provincial government.

"She says she was raped by 200 men. It is shocking and it freezes your conscience," he said.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/13904670

Riaz Haq said...

Americans, too, prefer boys over girls, according to a new Gallup poll:

A new survey has found that almost half of people would prefer to have a baby boy than a baby girl.

48 per cent of respondents admitted they wanted a son more than they wanted a daughter.

By contrast, just 28 per cent said they would rather have a girl, while 26 per cent said they would be content with either sex. The remaining people polled either had no opinion or didn't know what they wanted.

Gallup, which interviewed over 1,000 people across the U.S. for its research, revealed that Americans' preference for a male child today is even stronger that it was in 1941, when just 38 per cent wanted a boy more.

It said that the same poll 70 years ago found that just 38 per cent of people wanted a son more than a daughter,with 24 per cent stating preference for a baby girl.

The organisation found that the age, sex and education levels of respondents all made a difference in what the response was likely to be.

Fifty-four percent of people under 30 said that they would prefer a male child, but those with a university education showed equal results for both sexes.

Its report read: 'It is significant that 18- to 29-year-old Americans are the most likely of any age group to express a preference for a boy because most babies are born to younger adults.

'The impact of the differences between men and women in preferences for the sex of their babies is also potentially important. The data from the U.S. suggest that if it were up to mothers to decide the gender of their children, there would be no tilt toward boys.'

Even political stance made a difference. Republicans were more likely than Democrats to state preference for a male child.

Gallup said that the trend was 'driven partly by the fact that American men are more likely to be Republicans and women are more likely to identify as Democrats.'


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2007948/How-twice-Americans-prefer-son-daughter.html#ixzz1QFrvWhd9

Riaz Haq said...

Girls being surgically changed into boys, reports Hindustan Times

Girls are being 'converted' into boys in Indore - by the hundreds every year - at ages where they cannot give their consent for this life-changing operation.
This shocking, unprecedented trend, catering to the fetish for a son, is unfolding at conservative Indore's well-known clinics and hospitals on children who are 1-5 years old. The process being used to 'produce' a male child from a female is known as genitoplasty. Each surgery costs Rs 1.5 lakh.

Moreover, these children are pumped with hormonal treatment as part of the sex change procedure that may be irreversible.

The low cost of surgery and the relatively easy and unobtrusive way of getting it done in this city attracts parents from Delhi and Mumbai to get their child surgically 'corrected'. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/26_06_pg1a.jpg

About 7-8% cases come from the metros, say doctors.

While genitoplasty is relatively common - it is used to correct genital abnormality in fully-grown patients - the procedure is allegedly being misused rampantly to promise parents a male child even though they have a female child.

The parents press for these surgeries despite being told by doctors that the 'converted' male would be infertile.

While genitoplasty experts of Indore say each of them have turned 200 to 300 girls into 'boys' so far, only one could cite an instance when a 14-year-old was converted into a girl. ...

Riaz Haq said...

The West enabled the killing of 160 million female fetuses, argues an NY Times Op Ed:

Twenty years later, the number of “missing” women has risen to more than 160 million, and a journalist named Mara Hvistendahl has given us a much more complete picture of what’s happened. Her book is called “Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men.” As the title suggests, Hvistendahl argues that most of the missing females weren’t victims of neglect. They were selected out of existence, by ultrasound technology and second-trimester abortion.

The spread of sex-selective abortion is often framed as a simple case of modern science being abused by patriarchal, misogynistic cultures. Patriarchy is certainly part of the story, but as Hvistendahl points out, the reality is more complicated — and more depressing.

Thus far, female empowerment often seems to have led to more sex selection, not less. In many communities, she writes, “women use their increased autonomy to select for sons,” because male offspring bring higher social status. In countries like India, sex selection began in “the urban, well-educated stratum of society,” before spreading down the income ladder.

Moreover, Western governments and philanthropic institutions have their fingerprints all over the story of the world’s missing women.

From the 1950s onward, Asian countries that legalized and then promoted abortion did so with vocal, deep-pocketed American support. Digging into the archives of groups like the Rockefeller Foundation and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Hvistendahl depicts an unlikely alliance between Republican cold warriors worried that population growth would fuel the spread of Communism and left-wing scientists and activists who believed that abortion was necessary for both “the needs of women” and “the future prosperity — or maybe survival — of mankind,” as the Planned Parenthood federation’s medical director put it in 1976.

For many of these antipopulation campaigners, sex selection was a feature rather than a bug, since a society with fewer girls was guaranteed to reproduce itself at lower rates.

Hvistendahl’s book is filled with unsettling scenes, from abandoned female fetuses littering an Indian hospital to the signs in Chinese villages at the height of the one-child policy’s enforcement. (“You can beat it out! You can make it fall out! You can abort it! But you cannot give birth to it!”) The most disturbing passages, though, are the ones that depict self-consciously progressive Westerners persuading themselves that fewer girls might be exactly what the teeming societies of the third world needed.

Over all, “Unnatural Selection” reads like a great historical detective story, and it’s written with the sense of moral urgency that usually accompanies the revelation of some enormous crime.

But what kind of crime? This is the question that haunts Hvistendahl’s book, and the broader debate over the vanished 160 million.

The scale of that number evokes the genocidal horrors of the 20th century. But notwithstanding the depredations of the Chinese politburo, most of the abortions were (and continue to be) uncoerced. The American establishment helped create the problem, but now it’s metastasizing on its own: the population-control movement is a shadow of its former self, yet sex selection has spread inexorably with access to abortion, and sex ratios are out of balance from Central Asia to the Balkans to Asian-American communities in the United States.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/opinion/27douthat.html?src=ISMR_AP_LO_MST_FB

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting perspective assigning responsibility to the West for female feticide:

Hvistendahl points a finger at the West for encouraging the epidemic of sex selection which has gripped Asia since the early 1970s.

Amniocentesis tests and ultrasound scans have led to more than 160 million girls being aborted in Asia alone since then, according to one widely quoted 2005 estimate.

It had to do, Hvistendahl writes, with the West's paranoid population control movement during the Cold War - a growing fear that more hungry babies would grow up and turn to communism. The "monster of sex determination in Asia" lead to vastly skewed ratios in countries like India, China and South Korea.

Western money, she writes, was used to set up an extensive network of family planning advisers and doctors that encouraged women to opt for amniocentesis.

That's not all. Throughout the late 1960s and early 70s, writes Hvistendahl, influential US experts supported sex selection in academic papers and government-sponsored seminars - "a disturbed sort of technological sexism".

In 1969, sex determination was included as one of the 12 new strategies for global birth control at a US workshop. Henry Kissinger, then secretary of state under Richard Nixon, signed a classified memo stating that "abortion is vital to the solution" of population growth in the world.

So in India, Hvistendahl says, advisers from the World Bank and other organisations pressured the government to "adapt a paradigm" where population was the problem. The Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation poured money into "research into reproductive biology".

And in the mid-1960s, she writes, leading American embryologist and biochemist, Sheldon Segal, showed doctors at India's top medical school AIIMS, how to test human cells for sex chromatins that indicate whether a person is female - a method, she says, that was the precursor to foetal sex determination.

In India, the early sex selective abortions were performed openly at government hospitals. Doctors helped identify the sex and abort the foetus if it was a girl. Hvistendahl quotes from papers written by senior doctors belonging to India's premier medical school, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), in which they back prenatal sex determination as a way of putting an end to "unnecessary fecundity". In other words, female foetuses were aborted in the name of population control.

It was only in the late 1970s, when India's feminist groups and other campaigners began making a noise about sex selection, that the authorities took notice.

By that time, writes Hvistendahl, the damage had been done. At AIIMS alone, doctors had aborted an estimated 100,000 female foetuses. Taxpayers' money and Western funding had been spent to fund sex selective abortions. Today, 112 boys are born for every 100 girls in India, against the natural sex ratio at birth of 105 boys for every 100 girls. This is what Dr Sabu George, a leading expert on sex selection, calls the "forgotten story" of India's missing girls.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/14213136

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on women protest against sexual harassment in India:

A rally has taken place in India's capital inspired by the "Slutwalk" protests held in a number of countries.

The protest is to challenge the notion that the way a woman looks can excuse sexual abuse or taunting - "Eve teasing" as it is known in India.

Hundreds took part in Delhi, though there was little of the skimpy dressing that has marked protests elsewhere.

The protests originated in Canada after a policeman said women could avoid rape by not dressing like "sluts".
'It's our lives'

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Delhi says the organisers are trying to challenge the mindset that the victims of sexual violence are to blame for the crimes committed against them.

He says Delhi can be a very difficult city for women, with sexual harassment commonplace, and rapes and abduction all too frequent.

And according to a recent survey, India remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women.

One protester told our correspondent: "Every girl has the right to wear whatever she wants, to do whatever she wants to do with her body. It's our lives, our decisions, unless it's harming you, you have no right to say anything."

Another protester said: "There are a lot of problems for women in Delhi because a lot of women do face sexual harassment and just a couple of weeks ago the chief of police of Delhi said that if a women was out after 0200 she was responsible for what happens to her, and I don't think that's the right attitude."

Most of the marchers in Delhi were soberly dressed in jeans and T-shirts or traditional shalwar kameez.

India recorded almost 22,000 rape cases in 2008, 18% up on 2004, the National Crime Records Bureau says.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14357443

Mayraj said...

http://news.yahoo.com/wife-sharing-haunts-indian-villages-girls-decline-083401584.html
"Wife-sharing" haunts Indian villages as girls decline

BAGHPAT, India (TrustLaw) - When Munni arrived in this fertile, sugarcane-growing region of north India as a young bride years ago, little did she imagine she would be forced into having sex and bearing children with her husband's two brothers who had failed to find wives.

"My husband and his parents said I had to share myself with his brothers," said the woman in her mid-40s, dressed in a yellow sari, sitting in a village community center in Baghpat district in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

"They took me whenever they wanted -- day or night. When I resisted, they beat me with anything at hand," said Munni, who had managed to leave her home after three months only on the pretext of visiting a doctor.

"Sometimes they threw me out and made me sleep outside or they poured kerosene over me and burned me."

Such cases are rarely reported to police because women in these communities are seldom allowed outside the home unaccompanied, and the crimes carry deep stigma for the victims. So there may be many more women like Munni in the mud-hut villages of the area.

Munni, who has three sons from her husband and his brothers, has not filed a police complaint either.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Times of India on human sacrifice of a 7-year-old girl in India:

Two farmers from Bijapur district have been arrested for allegedly killing a seven-year old girl to offer her body part as a sacrifice to God for good crops, police said on Monday.

Two farmers, Padam Sukku and Pignesh Kujur, have been arrested for killing the girl, Lalita, in anticipation of good crops, Additional SP of Bijapur district BPS Rajbhanu said. Lalita had gone missing on the night of October 21 last year, following which, her father Budhram Tati had registered a missing person's complaint with the police. Her body was found on October 27.

During the investigation, police came to know that Lalita had been murdered and last week, police registered a case of murder and arrested the duo in this connection. When quizzed, Sukku and Kujur admitted they had kidnapped and strangled her. They said they had removed the liver and offered it to the God at a temple. They buried her body which was retrieved by animals.


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Farmers-sacrifice-7-yr-old-girl-for-good-crop-held/articleshow/11346202.cms

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a shocking story by BBC's Soutik Biswas about a battered Indian toddler girl:

For close to two weeks, the distressing story of a two-year-old toddler has grabbed India's attention.

A teenage girl brought the battered toddler to a hospital in Delhi and left her there. Doctors found she had serious injuries - human bite marks all over her body, broken arms and a partially smashed head. They said they had not seen abuse of this level on such a small child. Nearly a fortnight after she was brought to the hospital, the toddler is on life support in the intensive care unit.

It is still not clear who the mother of the toddler is, and who assaulted her and why. Sketchy details emerging in the media suggest she was passed around by a number of women before she landed in the hands of a 14-year-old girl. The girl has reportedly told the police that she got the toddler from a married man, who had befriended her and lived with her.

The man, a taxi driver, apparently acquired the child from a woman and wanted to raise her. The story of the teenage girl, if reports are to be believed, is equally shocking. She has apparently told investigators that her parents beat her when she was a child and when she arrived in the city, a number of men raped her and she was forced into the sex trade.

We still do not know who the toddler's parents are, why she was abandoned and why she suffered such brutality.

The story is, sadly, not unusual and mirrors the neglect, abuse and social bias that girl children suffer in largely patriarchal India. India has one of the highest female infant mortality rates in the world. Unchecked illegal sex selection abortions have led to a skewed sex ratio - 112 boys are born for every 100 girls in India, against the natural sex ratio at birth of 105 boys for every 100 girls.

India's record on protecting its children is shoddy. Thousands go missing every year and it doesn't appear to be a major concern for the authorities. A report by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) found that 11 children go missing in India ever hour. The 2010 National Crime Records Bureau says 10,670 cases of kidnapping and abduction of children were reported during the year, up 19% over 2009. The majority of these children belong to poor, marginalised families living in slums and resettlement colonies.

Most of us believe that a nation that cannot protect its children is a failure. The least the authorities can do is declare war on gangs who kidnap and traffic in children. Six years ago, federal investigators told the Delhi High Court that there were more than 815 gangs, comprising more than 4,000 people, involved in kidnapping children for the sex trade, for begging or for ransom in India. Was there ever a crackdown on them? We still don't know.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-16828725

Riaz Haq said...

India is the deadliest country for girl child, according to a report published by the Times of India:

NEW DELHI: It's official - India is the most dangerous place in the world to be a baby girl. Newly released data shows that an Indian girl child aged 1-5 years is 75% more likely to die than an Indian boy, making this the worst gender differential in child mortality for any country in the world.

Newly released United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs ( UN-DESA) data for 150 countries over 40 years shows that India and China are the only two countries in the world where female infant mortality is higher than male infant mortality in the 2000s. In China, there are 76 male infant deaths for every 100 female infant deaths compared with 122 male infant deaths for every 100 female infant deaths in the developing world as a whole.

The released data has found that India has a better infant mortality sex ratio than China, with 97 male infant deaths for every 100 female, but this is still not in tune with the global trend, or with its neighbours Sri Lanka (125) or Pakistan (120).

When it comes to the child mortality sex ratio, however, India is far and away the world's worst. In the 2000s, there were 56 male child deaths for every 100 female, compared with 111 in the developing world. This ratio has got progressively worse since the 1970s in India, even as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Iraq improved.

The UN report is clear that high girl child mortality is explained by socio-cultural values. So strong is the biological advantage for girls in early childhood that higher mortality among girls should be seen as "a powerful warning that differential treatment or access to resources is putting girls at a disadvantage", the report says.

"Higher female mortality from age 1 onwards clearly indicated sustained discrimination," says P Arokiasamy, professor of development studies at Mumbai's International Institute for Population Studies, who has studied gender differentials in child mortality in India. "Such neglect and discrimination can be in three areas: food and nutrition, healthcare and emotional wellbeing. Of these, neglect of the healthcare of the girl child is the most direct determinant of mortality," says Arokisamy. Studies have shown that health-related neglect may involve waiting longer before taking a sick girl to a doctor than a sick boy, and is also reflected in lower rates of immunization for girls than boys.

Moreover, since the outrage over India's poor child sex ratio came out of census data for children aged 0-6 years, the UN data on child mortality indicates that a campaign against female foeticide alone is not a complete solution. "Pre-natal and post-natal discrimination are complementarily contributing to gender imbalance," agrees Dr Arokiasamy. While pre-natal discrimination in the form of sex-selective abortions is more common among better educated upper income households, post-natal discrimination or neglect is more common among poorer, less educated rural households, he adds.


http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-02-01/india/31012468_1_child-mortality-infant-mortality-infant-deaths

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Rediff report on violence against women in India:

The latest available statistics compiled by the home ministry's National Crime Records Bureau show that between 1953 and 2011, the incidence of rape rose by 873 per cent, or three times faster than all cognisable crimes put together, and three-and-a-half times faster than murder.

In India, a woman is raped every 22 minutes, and a bride burnt for dowry every 58 minutes. The police last year registered 42,968 cases of molestation of women -- a figure that's about 80 percent higher than the number of rapes. The number of crimes recorded against women, including sexual harassment, cruelty by the husband or his relatives, kidnapping or abduction, and human trafficking, exceeds 2,61,000.

Separate numbers are not available for that South Asia barbarian speciality called acid attacks, which disfigure a woman for life as a punishment for rejecting a man's love or, more usually, lust. Nor does the NCRB go into the harassment faced by women for not bearing a son.

The gangster-style grievous assault on the young woman outside a bar in Guwahati is a particularly obnoxious instance of sexual violence. The allegation that a journalist instigated youths to strip her so a TV channel could scoop the story and play it to a voyeuristic audience is now all but established. This further aggravates matters. At any rate, many of those present continued to shoot the incident on their phone cameras for many minutes, ignoring a public-spirited citizen's pleas.

The police's failure to respond in time to distress calls from the bar owner is a shameful but familiar part of the story, as is their trivialisation of the incident and lethargy in arresting all the molesters. Even more deplorable is the manner in which the victim's identity was disclosed by the media, by a member of the National Commission for Women, and worse, the Chief Minister's Office -- against all elementary ethical norms.
Even worse, a Unicef report this year on adolescents finds that not just 57 per cent of Indian males but also 53 per cent of females in the 15-19 age-group believe that wife beating is justified. (Even in Bangladesh, only 41 percent of females justify wife beating.) Such acceptance and sanctification of domestic violence does not speak of a civilised society.

Girls under ten being have been raped while on their way to use a public toilet, say women living in Delhi’s slums. In one slum, boys hid in toilet cubicles at night waiting to rape those who entered. These are some of the incidents mentioned in a recent briefing note [1] based on research supported by WaterAid and the DFID-funded SHARE (Sanitation and Hygiene Applied Research for Equity).
The link between a lack of access to water and sanitation facilities and sexual violence against women is not well known and to date has received insufficient attention. The briefing note highlights this link within the context of urban slums in Delhi, and suggests how this problem can be addressed.


http://www.rediff.com/news/column/violence-against-women-blame-our-prejudices-not-the-victim/20120720.htm

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of a piece titled "How's India Doing (2012)?" as published in The Hindu:

One, the decline in poverty has not been uniform across regions and communities. If in 1982 your parents lived on the banks of the Cooum in Madras or in Dharavi in Bombay, it is likely that today your economic status is better than theirs. But if you are from a Dalit or adivasi family in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, or Uttar Pradesh, chances are that you are no better off now than your parents were in 1982. Two, the benefits of growth have indeed trickled down, but that is exactly what has happened: it has been just a trickle. The incidence of poverty has declined, but a quarter of the population or around 300-350 million people are still desperately poor. Three, if other basic necessities like shelter, access to clean drinking water and sanitation are included, the picture is much more dismal. Research by R. Jayraj and S. Subramanian shows that severe “multidimensional poverty” afflicted 470 million in 2005-06, not much lower than the estimate of 520 million in 1992-93. Four, in certain critical areas — for instance, malnourishment and maternal mortality — conditions remain terrible. Close to half our children suffer from malnutrition, much the same as 30 years ago.

So if we paint a broader picture, the old sliver of the beneficiaries of India’s growth has only thickened a bit. For the large mass of India’s poor, daily life remains a struggle. There is no doubt India lost a major opportunity in the past three decades.

---

The sex ratio has at last begun to see some improvement, though only in the past decade. And the life expectancy of women is now, as it should be, longer than of men. But we are in a far worse situation than in 1982 with respect to the status of the girl child. The sex ratio at birth — the number of girls born for every 1,000 boys born — has declined in recent decades. And the sex ratio of children under six has also worsened. Whether the result of sex-selection at birth, female infanticide, or neglect of the girl child, India has become an awful place for girls.

---

The outcome, however, has not been any major improvement in the economic status of the deprived castes. It may be too early to express any definite opinion on the achievements of these parties, but the early optimism that they would position the demand for lower-caste rights as part of a larger movement for justice and equality has faded. These parties have at times turned into movements solely for the advancement of sectional interests, and, worse, have become vehicles of personal aggrandisement.

If these are the changes in four areas that Sen examined in 1982, one also has to recognise that major changes have taken place in other areas.
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For a country that became independent amid gruesome violence on religious lines, communalism has been no stranger. Soon after Sen’s essay, we had the anti-Sikh riots of November 1984. Mass murder was conducted over three days in the capital under the benign gaze of a new Prime Minister. The message was: if you mobilise yourself with force, you can get away with anything. The message was heard, and put into practice in Bhagalpur 1989, Bombay 1993, and Gujarat 2002.

Beyond such open violence, it is the routinisation of communalism in daily life that is new. Mobilisation on communal lines took new forms after the Vishwa Hindu Parishad/Bharatiya Janata Party decided to raise the issue of the Babri Masjid. The rath yatra of 1990, the Congress’s cynical attempt at soft Hindutva, and the destruction of the Babri Masjid completed the post-Independence transformation of India on communal lines. All this has contributed in no small measure to the growth of domestic terrorism. India is tragically now a less tolerant society than what it was in the early 1980s.


http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/how-is-india-doing-2012/article4249630.ece

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times blog post on brutal rape and death of a woman on a New Delhi bus:


The woman, who has not been identified, has become of a symbol for the treatment of women in India, where rape is common and conviction rates for the crime are low. She boarded a bus with a male friend after watching a movie at a mall, and was raped and attacked with an iron rod by the men on the bus, who the police later said had been drinking and were on a “joy ride.”

She died Saturday morning in Singapore, where she had been flown for treatment after suffering severe internal injuries during the assault. She had an infection in her lungs and abdomen, liver damage and a brain injury, the Singapore hospital said, and died from organ failure. Her body was flown back to India on Saturday.

As news of her death spread Saturday, India’s young, social-network-savvy population began to organize protests and candlelight vigils from Cochin in Kerala to the outsourcing hub of Bangalore to the country’s capital. Just a tiny sliver of India’s population can afford a computer or has access to the Internet, but the young, educated part of this group has become increasingly galvanized over the Delhi rape case. ...


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/30/world/asia/india-rape-delhi.html?_r=0
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Here's Reuters' story on the rape incident:

India is angry. India is protesting. Rallies continue in New Delhi after the gang rape of a 23-year-old girl on Dec. 16. The rapes continue too. On Wednesday night, three men reportedly raped a 42-year-old woman and dumped her in South Delhi. There are more cases being reported every day.

The biggest story in India, however, is Abhijit Mukherjee’s comment about the Delhi protests — “These pretty women, dented and painted, who come for protests are not students. I have seen them speak on television, usually women of this age are not students”. He added that students, who go to discotheques, think it is a fashion statement to hold candles and protest.
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Are such comments by lawmakers rare? Why are we so sensitive to something that anyone, anywhere in India says? There were similar reactions when Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi called Human Resource Development Minister Shashi Tharoor’s wife a 50-crore-rupee girlfriend. A few days ago, Sanjay Nirupam’s comment about a fellow politician — Till some time ago you were dancing on the TV screens and now you have become a psephologist — freaked people out. And let’s not forget the case of the impromptu “theek hai?” on the part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier this week. It threatened to become bigger than “mission accomplished.”


http://blogs.reuters.com/india/2012/12/27/abhijit-mukherjees-foot-in-mukh-moment-steals-spotlight-from-rape-cases/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of news stories ad stats of rape in South Asia:

1. India Tribune:

New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures.

•South Africa – It has one of the highest rates, with 277,000 reported cases. The same year a survey by the Medical Research Council found that one in four men admitted to raping someone.

•United States – More than 89,241 rape cases were reported. Criminals face life behind bars, and in some states, castration is an option.

•India – Reported a little more than 21,397 cases.

•United Kingdom – 15,084 cases were reported. A suspect found guilty, faces a maximum conviction of life in prison.

•Mexico – Nearly 14,078 cases were reported. In some parts of the country, penalties may consist of a few hours in jail, or minor fines.

•Germany – Counts the highest number of reported rape cases in Europe, just under 8,000.

•Russia – Almost 5,000 cases were reported, and the crime holds a punishment of 4-10 years in jail.


http://www.indiatribune.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10195:rape-statistics-around-the-world-&catid=107:coverpage&Itemid=471

2. Express Tribune:

Violence against women makes up 95 per cent of cases of violence reported in Pakistan. These statistics are even more chilling, bearing in mind that 70 per cent of cases of violence against women do not get registered. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimates that a rape occurs in Pakistan every two hours and a gang rape every eight hours.

Aurat Foundation’s report titled Situation of Violence against Women in Pakistan 2010 discloses that Punjab dominates with 2,690 registered cases out of a total of 4,069 incidents in various parts of Pakistan.

Interior Ministry documents placed before the National Assembly in 2008 revealed that a staggering 7,546 women were raped in a mere 24-month span between 2007-2009, a rate of 314 rapes every month.

According to War Against Rape, data released by 103 police stations in Karachi show an eight per cent rise in registered cases and seven per cent more medico-legal examinations in 2010 from 2009.

Since courts do not place restraining orders on all the accused released on bail, they often continue to harass the survivors. Whither justice when 31 per cent of cases reported against a family member have resulted in the family shifting away from their home, and removing themselves from the legal system to avoid social persecution?


http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/4479/why-the-deafening-silence-after-rape/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are ten reasons why India has sexual violence problems according to a Washington Post blog:

1. Few female police: Studies show that women are more likely to report sex crimes if female police officers are available. India has historically had a much lower percentage of female police officers than other Asian countries. ...When women do report rape charges to male police, they are frequently demeaned.


2. Not enough police in general: There aren’t enough police dedicated to protecting ordinary citizens, rather than elites, a Brookings article argues, and the officers that are available often lack basic evidence-gathering and investigative training and equipment:


3. Blaming provocative clothing: There’s a tendency to assume the victims of sexual violence somehow brought it on themselves. In a 1996 survey of judges in India, 68 percent of the respondents said that provocative clothing is an invitation to rape. In response to the recent gang-rape incident, a legislator in Rajasthan suggested banning skirts as a uniform for girls in private schools, citing it as the reason for increased cases of sexual harassment.

4. Acceptance of domestic violence: The Reuters TrustLaw group named India one of the worst countries in the world for women this year, in part because domestic violence there is often seen as deserved. A 2012 report by UNICEF found that 57 percent of Indian boys and 53 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 think wife-beating is justified.

5. A lack of public safety: Women generally aren’t protected outside their homes. The gang rape occurred on a bus, and even Indian authorities say that the country’s public places can be unsafe for women. Many streets are poorly lit, and there’s a lack of women’s toilets, a Women and Child Development Ministry report said recently. ...

6. Stigmatizing the victim: When verbal harassment or groping do occur in public areas, bystanders frequently look the other way rather than intervene, both to avoid a conflict and because they — on some level — blame the victim, observers say.

7. Encouraging rape victims to compromise: In a recent separate rape case, a 17-year-old Indian girl who was allegedly gang-raped killed herself after police pressured her to drop the case and marry one of her attackers.

Rape victims are often encouraged by village elders and clan councils to “compromise” with the family of accused and drop charges — or even to marry the attacker. Such compromises are aimed at keeping the peace between families or clan groups...

8. A sluggish court system: India’s court system is painfully slow, in part because of a shortage of judges. The country has about 15 judges for every 1 million people, while China has 159. A Delhi high court judge once estimated it would take 466 years to get through the backlog in the capital alone.

9. Few convictions: For rapes that do get reported, India’s conviction rate is no more than 26 percent. There is also no law on the books covering routine daily sexual harassment, which is euphemistically called “eve-teasing.” The passing of a proposed new sexual assault law has been delayed for seven years.

10. Low status of women: Perhaps the biggest issue, though, is women’s overall lower status in Indian society. For poor families, the need to pay a marriage dowry can make daughters a burden. India has one of the lowest female-to-male population ratios in the world because of sex-selective abortion and female infanticide. Throughout their lives, sons are fed better than their sisters, are more likely to be sent to school and have brighter career prospects.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/29/india-rape-victim-dies-sexual-violence-proble/

Riaz Haq said...

Here are some excerpts of a BBC post by Soutik Biswas on heavy abuse faced by India women:

Female foetuses are aborted and baby girls killed after birth, leading to an an appallingly skewed sex ratio. Many of those who survive face discrimination, prejudice, violence and neglect all their lives, as single or married women.

TrustLaw, a news service run by Thomson Reuters, has ranked India as the worst country in which to be a woman. This in the country where the leader of the ruling party, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, at least three chief ministers, and a number of sports and business icons are women. It is also a country where a generation of newly empowered young women are going out to work in larger numbers than ever before.

But crimes against women are rising too.

With more than 24,000 reported cases in 2011, rape registered a 9.2% rise over the previous year. More than half (54.7%) of the victims were aged between 18 and 30. Most disturbingly, according to police records, the offenders were known to their victims in more than 94% of the cases. Neighbours accounted for a third of the offenders, while parents and other relatives were also involved. Delhi accounted for over 17% of the total number of rape cases in the country.

And it is not rape alone. Police records from 2011 show kidnappings and abductions of women were up 19.4%, women being killed in disputes over dowry payments by 2.7%, torture by 5.4%, molestation by 5.8% and trafficking by an alarming 122% over the previous year.

The Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen has estimated that more than 100m women are "missing" worldwide - women who would have been around had they received similar healthcare, medicine and nutrition as men.

New research by economists Siwan Anderson and Debraj Ray estimates that in India, more than 2m women are missing in a given year.

The economists found that roughly 12% of the missing women disappear at birth, 25% die in childhood, 18% at the reproductive ages, and 45% at older ages.

They found that women died more from "injuries" in a given year than while giving birth - injuries, they say, "appear to be indicator of violence against women".

Deaths from fire-related incidents, they say, is a major cause - each year more than 100,000 women are killed by fires in India. The researchers say many cases could be linked to demands over a dowry leading to women being set on fire. Research also found a large number of women died of heart diseases.

These findings point to life-long neglect of women in India. It also proves that a strong preference for sons over daughters - leading to sex selective abortions - is just part of the story.

Clearly, many Indian women face threats to life at every stage - violence, inadequate healthcare, inequality, neglect, bad diet, lack of attention to personal health and well-being.
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Angry citizens believe that politicians, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, are being disingenuous when they promise to toughen laws and speed up the prosecution of rapists and perpetrators of crime against women.

How else, they ask, can political parties in the last five years have fielded candidates for state elections that included 27 candidates who declared they had been charged with rape?

How, they say, can politicians be believed when there are six elected state legislators who have charges of rape against them?

But the renewed protests in Delhi after the woman's death hold out some hope. Has her death come as an inflexion point in India's history, which will force the government to enact tougher laws and people to begin seriously thinking about the neglect of women?

It's early days yet, but one hopes these are the first stirrings of change.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-20863860

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times Op Ed on a woman's experience of living in Delhi:

I LIVED for 24 years in New Delhi, a city where sexual harassment is as regular as mealtime. Every day, somewhere in the city, it crosses the line into rape.

As a teenager, I learned to protect myself. I never stood alone if I could help it, and I walked quickly, crossing my arms over my chest, refusing to make eye contact or smile. I cleaved through crowds shoulder-first, and avoided leaving the house after dark except in a private car. At an age when young women elsewhere were experimenting with daring new looks, I wore clothes that were two sizes too large. I still cannot dress attractively without feeling that I am endangering myself.

Things didn’t change when I became an adult. Pepper spray wasn’t available, and my friends, all of them middle- or upper-middle-class like me, carried safety pins or other makeshift weapons to and from their universities and jobs. One carried a knife, and insisted I do the same. I refused; some days I was so full of anger I would have used it — or, worse, had it used on me.

The steady thrum of whistles, catcalls, hisses, sexual innuendos and open threats continued. Packs of men dawdled on the street, and singing Hindi film songs, rich with double entendres, was how they communicated. To make their demands clear, they would thrust their pelvises at female passers-by.

If only it was just public spaces that were unsafe. In my office at a prominent newsmagazine, at the doctor’s office, even at a house party — I couldn’t escape the intimidation.

On Dec. 16, as the world now knows, a 23-year-old woman and a male friend were returning home after watching the movie “Life of Pi” at a mall in southwest Delhi. After they boarded what seemed to be a passenger bus, the six men inside gang-raped and tortured the woman so brutally that her intestines were destroyed. The bus service had been a ruse. The attackers also severely beat up the woman’s friend and threw them from the vehicle, leaving her to die.

The young woman didn’t oblige. She had started that evening watching a film about a survivor, and must have been determined to survive herself. Then she produced another miracle. In Delhi, a city habituated to the debasement of women, tens of thousands of people took to the streets and faced down police officers, tear gas and water cannons to express their outrage. It was the most vocal protest against sexual assault and rape in India to date, and it set off nationwide demonstrations.
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The volume of protests in public and in the media has made clear that the attack was a turning point. The unspeakable truth is that the young woman attacked on Dec. 16 was more fortunate than many rape victims. She was among the very few to receive anything close to justice. She was hospitalized, her statement was recorded and within days all six of the suspected rapists were caught and, now, charged with murder. Such efficiency is unheard-of in India.

In retrospect it wasn’t the brutality of the attack on the young woman that made her tragedy unusual; it was that an attack had, at last, elicited a response.


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/02/opinion/the-unspeakable-truth-about-rape-in-india.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Aljazeera story on 60 million missing Indian women:

It has been nearly seven months since a young student was gang-raped in the New Delhi, India, and died from her horrific injuries 13 days later on December 29, 2012. The fast-track trial of the accused men has just re-started and the sentence is due any day now.

When thousands of Indians took to the streets to protest the inability of the establishment to protect women, they demanded not just a change in the law but in people's attitudes. But the watershed moment that many Indians hoped for doesn't seem to have arrived. And that may be because most Indians don't even recognise the extent of the problem in their own country.

Let's start with a figure: 60 million. That is nearly the entire population of the United Kingdom. That is also the approximate number of women "missing" in India. They have either been aborted before birth, killed once born, died of neglect because they were girls, or perhaps murdered by their husband's family for not paying enough dowry at marriage.

That number isn't a wild exaggeration or a figure thoughtlessly plucked out of the air, but a matter of demographics. As far back as 1991, the economist Amartya Sen pointed out that Asia was missing 100 million women because of sex-selection and the poor attention paid to women. In 2005, it was estimated at 50 million Indian women in the New York Times. But this isn't a new problem.

In 1991, the Indian census showed an unprecedented drop of women in the sex-ratio. After running tests to check whether women had been under-counted, they found that a massive explosion in sex-selection during the 80s had led to a sharp drop in the number of girls being born. A report by Action Aid in 2009 ("Disappearing Daughters" [PDF]) found that in some villages in the state of Punjab, there were as few as 300 girls for every 1,000 boys.

Overall, India had 37.25 million fewer women than men according to the 2011 Census. To match the sexes equally and then increase the number of women to match the natural sex-ratio would require around 60 to 70 million women. That is the number of women missing. This phenomenon cannot be called anything less than genocide.

So why isn't there more recognition of this mass tragedy? In my recently released e-book India Dishonoured: Behind a Nation's War on Women, I show that many Indians don't want to recognise the problem because it has become deeply ingrained in the culture....


http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/07/201372814110570679.html

Riaz Haq said...

Arti learned the rules of her marriage when she moved in with husband Vishal’s parents the day after their wedding. She was not allowed to sit on a sofa, chair or her own bed. Only her new in-laws and their sons were allowed to do so.
Arti asked her two sisters-in-law who lived in the extended household to explain.
“Any concrete surface is fine,” one of them told Arti, 25. “Don’t worry, we can sit on the staircase.”
There were more rules. The brides were expected to rise at 5 a.m., cook breakfast for the whole family and pack lunches for the menfolk before going to work themselves.
They returned in the evening to prepare dinner and wash the laundry by hand. At the end of the month, the brides were required to hand over their salaries.
These weren’t low-caste women chafing under the oppressive rule of a tyrannical patriarchy somewhere in rural India. Arti was a television journalist with a master’s degree. One of her sisters-in-law was a professor and the other was a senior bank manager. The family, Kashmiris, lived in the Indian capital, New Delhi. http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/02/17/why_tensions_are_soaring_in_mother_inlaw_india.html