Monday, May 24, 2010

Superfreakonomics on Status of Indian Women

Freakonomics is a series of books by authors Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner who find data points, patterns, correlations and trends that are often missed by mainstream economists and researchers. For example, the authors see how legalization of abortion may have caused significant crime rates decline in the United States in recent decades. They argue with various statistics to reject other possible explanations like gun control, strong economy, three-strikes laws etc. Authors say that the termination of unwanted pregnancies has led to fewer criminals on the streets of America.

In their latest book of the Freakonomics series, Superfreakonomics, the authors cite the findings of two American economists Robert Jensen and Emily Oster that cable TV in 2700 households empowered Indian women to be more autonomous. Cable TV households had lower birthrates, less domestic abuse and kept more girls in school. Here are some highlights from the book about India:

1. If women could choose their birthplace, India might not be a wise choice of a place for any of them 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, and corruption is high in India.

4. Only half the Indian households have electricity, and fewer have running water.

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 in Chennai did cleft repair surgery at no cost for poor children. A man was asked how many children he had. He said he had 1, a boy. It turned out that he also had 5 daughters which he did not mention.

9. Indian midwives in Tamil Nadu are paid $2.50 to kill girls 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 lucky enough not to be aborted, girls face inequality and cruelty at every turn because of low social status of Indian women.

12. 51% 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. High number of unwanted pregnancies, STDs, HIV infections happen to Indian women when 15% of the condoms fail. Indian Council of Medical Research found that 60% of Indian men's genitalia are too small to fit the condoms manufactured to international standard sizes.

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

15. People had little interest in State run TV channel 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 them exposure to wider 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 daughters in schools.

Freakonomics series authors Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner use the above facts to prove what they call the "Law of Unintended Consequences".

They argue that access to cable TV, not originally intended to help liberate women, has done more to improve the lives of Indian women than the many laws and government programs designed to help them.

Cable television is present in over 16 million Pakistani households accounting for 68% of the population in 2009. I am not aware of any studies done on the impact of cable TV on rural women in Pakistan, but my guess is that trends similar to India's are empowering women in Pakistan's rural households with growing cable TV access.

Related Links:

Media Boom in Pakistan

Gender Inequality Worst in South Asia

Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India

Women's Status in Pakistan

WEF Global Gender Gap Rankings 2009

India, Pakistan Contrasted 2010

Female Literacy Through Mobile Phones

Pakistan's Woman Speaker: Another Token or Real Change

Female Literacy Lags Far Behind in India and Pakistan

Female Genocide Unfolding in India

69 comments:

Mayraj said...

150 million our of over 1 billion is a tiny amount. This must be the better off Indians.
They can be educated to keep their girls. Then they may kill them instead for dishonoring them by intercaste marriage etc and whatever reasons Muslims kill daughters for dishonoring them! Oh and then there are the dowry deaths that might await them when they get married off!

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj: "150 million our of over 1 billion is a tiny amount."

Remember that only half of Indians i.e. 550 million have electricity which is still very intermittent and unreliable. 150 million rural Indians represents almost a third of all of the people with electricity in the country. Clearly, a lot more needs to be done to bring about social change and improve the status of women in both India and Pakistan, but it's a good start.

Mayraj said...

If women can be major wage earners they won't be aborted.
If they are not allowed to be financially able they will continue to be treated like chattel.
This is a country that still has khap panchayats that rule rural roost. Expecting them to be enlightened about women is a tall order as a norm.

Riaz Haq said...

Some highlights from 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.

Mayraj said...

Here's a Population Reference Bureau report that conflicts with Jensen and Oster findings:

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.

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj:

Yes, the PRB report does conflict with Jensen and Oster to the extent of selective abortions and son preference which appear to cut across all castes and classes in India and China.

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.

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.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/07/female-genocide-unfolding-in-india.html

Mayraj said...

I do not understand why coming to the West their attitudes do not change.
Maybe it is because they only marry their girls to local boys.
I will tell you I am a bit cynical of people taking examples and extrapolating this might be part of changing tide.
For decades such false dawns have been claimed in local governance changes in US;but, norm remains. So I can say this from something I know more about.
I think the contradiction in Western Immigrants reveals the norm prevails as well.

Riaz Haq said...

Mayraj:

I think the son preference is deeply embedded in the psyche of Asians men and women, particularly Indians and Chinese. It'll probably take several generations to change attitudes of American and European Indians and Chinese.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

Riaz, a respectd Magazine "The Economist" had found out that 94% of Indians are happy(I hope this won't make you sad ;-)). Then there was a letter to the editor next week from a Western reader asking how can 94% people be happy when 33% live below 1$. Anyway exposing India's problems won't make Pakistan's tribal honour killings any less serious. Average age of marriage( a key social indicator) among Hindus is no better than rural Pakistanis, nevertheless Muslims are sterotyped as child bride seekers by some Hindutwa bigmouths.
Anyway, some of your copy-paste postings of Indian poverty statistics, I have learned by heart by now.

Rahul said...

Mr Riaz....wow...

Do you think the whole world is a fool like your land people, who will buy this story. You say that Pakistan is a lot better than India. My god... You must have written this article in clear sense of frustration..Grow up Mr.riaz, your articles are turning into childish pranks...

Riaz Haq said...

Rahul:

Indian women continue to be among the most oppressed in the world, with an alarming increase in female feticide. Child brides forced into marriage under the age of 18 account for 47% of all marriages in India, according to UNICEF. For comparison, child marriages under 18 account for 24% of all marriages in Pakistan. While Pakistani women also suffer significant discrimination, there is no evidence of female infanticide in Pakistan based on the male-to-female ratio at at-birth. The gender ratio in the overall population in Pakistan are also comparable to the rest of the world.

Access to healhcare in South Asia, particularly due to the wide gender gap, presents a huge challenge, and it requires greater focus to ensure improvement in human resources. Though the life expectancy has increased to 66.2 years in Pakistan and 63.4 years in India, it is still low relative to the rest of the world. The infant mortality rate remains stubbornly high, particular in Pakistan, though it has come down down from 76 per 1000 live births in 2003 to 65 in 2009. With 320 mothers dying per 100,000 live births in Pakistan and 450 in India, the maternal mortality rate in South Asia is very high, according to UNICEF.

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.)

A recently published book Freakonomics argues that access to cable TV by rural women appears to be helping empower some of the women. Here are some highlights from Superfreakonomics text:

A baby Indian girl who does grow into adulthood [i.e., who doesn't fall prey to selective abortion or in fanticide] 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.

Riaz Haq said...

Other than financial services, other key service sectors with explosive growth in last decade (1999-2009) in Pakistan include media and telecom, both of which have helped empower women.

With an increase of 38% over 2008, the television advertising revenue for 2009 in Pakistan was Rs 16.4 billion ((US $200m), accounting for about half of the total ad market during the year. The TV ad revenue is continuing to rise as a percentage of total ad revenue, mostly at the expense of the print media ads. The biggest spenders in 2009 were the telecom companies with Rs 8 billion, followed closely by fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector with Rs. 7 billion, as reported by Pakistan's GeoTV channel. FMCG products, as opposed to consumer durables such as home appliances, are generally low cost and replaced or fully used up over a short period of days, weeks, or months, and within one year. Other important sectors contributing to ad revenue are financial services and real estate, but these sectors have experienced significant slowdown with the current economic slump.

According to Daily Times, Chairman Mushtaq Malik of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) has said that the cable television sector “is the fast growing segment among the electronic media ventures”. In the first 100 days of the current government, he has claimed that new licenses for 16 satellite TV channels, 10 FM radio stations, and 232 cable TV channels have been granted. It is anticipated that this would lead to additional investment worth Rs. 2.5 billion, generating 4000 additional jobs in this sector. The cable television sector alone is employing some 30,000 people in the country.

APP reported that overall size of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in Pakistan has crossed more than $ 12 billion, of which $ 1 billion is foreign direct investment (FDI).
This was stated by the Advisor to PM on Information Technology Sardar Latif Khan Khosa while speaking at the inauguration of 5th Information & Communications Technology Exhibition and Conference - CONNECT 2010 at Karachi Expo Centre here Saturday.
He said Pakistan has one of the fastest growing the tele-density in the world, accelerating at a rate of 63.5 percent, while the neighbouring India is just 37 percent.
Khosa said there are more than 95 million mobile connections in the country and are still growing in numbers. This is exponential growth as mobile telephone market has seen a 14-fold increase since the year 2000, he added.

A pilot program in Pakistan has demonstrated the effectiveness of pushing mass literacy through the use of cell phone text messaging capability. The five-month experiment, initiated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), targeted 250 females aged 15 to 24 years old in three districts of Pakistan's Punjab province. In this pilot project which successfully concluded last month, the participant who have just completed the basic literacy course, were given a mobile phone each. They received three text messages a day in the local language. They were required to practice reading and writing the messages in their work book and reply to their teachers by text.

Zen, Munich, Germany said...

"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."

Riaz, is there anything from Pakistani national health survey which says how many Pakistani men believe that honor killing is justified? In Pakistan discrimination against women is institutionalized through Shariah law(which demands that there has to be 4 male witnesses to punish a rapist) and female literacy is a paltry 50%. Male-female ratio looks better because of Islamic Taboo against abortion(a good thing), but in pretty much every other things, Pakistan despite having the advantage of a lower population is worse off that India's own hopeless indicators

Riaz Haq said...

Zen: "how many Pakistani men believe that honor killing is justified?"

I am not aware of any such surveys or data. But, Unfortunately, honor killings do happen in some rural and tribal communities in Pakistan. Deplorable as it is, it is not limited to Pakistan. There have been several instances of it in India recently that have made headlines like the honor killing the Delhi female journalist Nirupama Pathak killed by her family for inter-cast relationship with a male colleague.

In rural areas of India, panchayats order honor killings regularly such as the recent case in Haryana and Punjab.

India also has among the highest incidence of rape, increasing 734% in the last several decades, according to reported Indian crime stats.

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 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 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 an Op Ed by Ananya Mukherjee-Reed on Kerala women, an Indian state with the highest social indicators in India and most of the developing world:

Some 250,000 Kudumbashree women throughout Kerala have come together to form farming collectives which jointly lease land, cultivate it, use the produce to meet their consumption needs and sell the surplus to local markets. Currently, these collectives are farming on an approximate area of 25000 hectares, spread throughout the 14 districts of Kerala. The idea is to increase the participation of women in agriculture, and in particular, to ensure that women, as producers, have control over the production, distribution and consumption of food.

This strategy for involving women in agriculture comes at a very crucial time for Kerala. As in most parts of the world, vast quantities of Kerala's agricultural land has been diverted towards residential and commercial development. At the same time, fall in agricultural prices and rising wages have made farming an unprofitable activity - leading to a continuous fall in food production in the state. It is in this context that Kerala has developed its food security strategy. Unlike the standard approaches to food security; it goes beyond the question of food distribution to the realm of food production. Indeed, as global movements like the Via Campesina have been trying to assert, unless the production of food is enhanced and the real producers of food have control over the food economy, there can be no food security.

As I travelled through Kerala, it seemed to me that Kudumbasree farmers are emerging as key actors in this attempt to rejuvenate the agrarian economy. They are bringing back land for agricultural production through their collective organisation. Slowly but surely, the connections between local livelihoods, local markets and local consumption are being reinvigorated. As I travelled, my intention was not so much to ‘assess' Kudumbashree, but to understand what the experiments might mean concretely to its protagonists.

For most of the 250 women I have met so far, farming is a not new vocation. But for some, this is the first time they are working for an income. For others, this marks a very important transition from their role of an agricultural labourer. "Earlier we were just labourers. Now we have hope," says Savitri, a landless dalit woman in Palakkad district. The 'hope' that she speaks of comes from her new role as a 'producer' and farmer. Now she works for herself and her group, on the land they have collectively leased. "As a labourer, I knew there was only work, only hard labour and nothing to gain at the end," she says. In Idukki district, I met several women who have given up working as wage labourers since they have taken up farming. There is much enthusiasm for expanding their farming activity, although land remains scarce.

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...

Here's a piece by Eric Margolis on US-India ties titled "Welcome to India, Obama Sahib":

While the western media fulminates against Taliban’s or Iran’s treatment of women, a leading British medical journal reports an estimated 40,000 Indian women are burned alive each year by their in-laws to grab their dowries. Infanticide of female children is endemic. But few in the west seem to care.
India is a giant with feet of clay. A senior western diplomat in unhealthy Delhi told me that at any given time, half his staff is ill with serious maladies. India is plagued by grave health and environmental problems.
India is really two nations: modern, dynamic, high-tech urban India of about 100 million, and antique, timeless rural Mother India of 1.1 billion souls.
To China’s annoyance, President Obama proclaimed in Delhi that India should have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. India is becoming a great power and deserves a seat among the world’s big boys. But so do Germany, Japan, Turkey and Brazil.

India and its people, long disparaged by British racist jokes, are delighted to be called equals by the great powers. In fact, nuclear-armed India sees itself very much as regional hegemon of the entire Indian Ocean extending from East Africa to Australia.

The Bush administration’s deal with Delhi to sanctify and facilitate India’s nuclear weapons programs was thought at the time a clever move. But it dismayed the rest of the world, made a mockery of non-proliferation, and outraged the entire Muslim world, which has been blasting the US for hypocrisy by threatening war against Iran, which is under UN nuclear inspection, while playing nuclear footsie with India, which rejected all UN inspection.

India’s leaders are no fools and will not be easily pushed or bribed into a stronger anti-China and anti-Iran stance by Washington – Delhi maintains cool but correct relations with Beijing, but behind the wintry, trans-Himalayan smiles lies growing rivalry over Chinese-occupied Tibet, Indian-ruled Ladakh and Kashmir, their long, poorly demarcated Himalayan border (another gift of the British Empire), strategic Burma, and their intensifying nuclear and naval rivalry.

India claims China is trying to surround it, using Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Burma. The two Asian superpowers have been locked in a strategic and conventional arms race for a decade. In 1999, this writer postulated that the two giants would one day clash over their contested borders.

India will follow its own strategic and diplomatic interests – which are not synonymous with those of the United States.

Delhi has a long record of clever diplomacy that has isolated Pakistan and kept the world and UN out of the burning Kashmir problem, where 40,000–80,000 Kashmiris have died in a long independence struggle against Indian rule.

But the United States is now slowly being drawn into the dangerous Kashmir dispute – which triggered the 2008 terror bombing in Mumbai. Just look for example at the embarrassing revelations that one of the men involved in the 2008 Mumbai massacre was working for the US Drug Enforcement Agency.

The more Washington backs and arms India, the more its relations with China will deteriorate. Japan is also quietly building up India against China, to Beijing’s mounting anger.

The US could even be drawn into an India-China regional conflict. So caution is advised to US diplomats as they charge into the murky, tangled, poorly understood geopolitics of South and East Asia.

We also wonder if President Obama was briefed on India’s growing strategic arsenal.Delhi already has enough medium-ranged Agni-series missiles to cover potential foe China. Why then is Delhi spending billions to develop a reported 12,000 km ICBM whose only targets could be North America, Europe or Australia? ..

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...

Zahida Kazmi has been hailed as Pakistan's first female taxi driver, reports the BBC:

She has driven from the crowded markets of Islamabad to the remote tribal country in the north. Here she tells Nosheen Abbas about her two decades in a male-dominated world.

In 1992 at the age of 33, newly widowed Zahida Kazmi decided to take her fate in her own hands and become a taxi driver.

Born into a conservative and patriarchal Pakistani family, she flew in the face of her family's wishes but with six children to support, she felt she had no choice.

She took advantage of a government scheme in which anybody could buy a brand new taxi in affordable instalments. She bought herself a yellow cab and drove to Islamabad airport every morning to pick up passengers.

In a perilous and unpredictable world, Zahida at first kept a gun in the car for her own protection and she even started off by driving her passengers around wearing a burqa, a garment that covers the entire body.

Her initial fears soon dissipated.

"I realised that I would scare passengers away," she said. "So then I only wore a hijab [head covering]. Eventually I stopped covering my head because I got older and was well-established by then."

Exposing herself to the hot, bustling city streets of Islamabad and by driving to the rocky and remote districts adjoining Pakistan's tribal areas, Zahida says she learned a lot about the country she lived in and its people.

The Pathans of the tribal north-west, despite a reputation for fierce male pride and inflexibility, treated her with immense courtesy on her journeys.

Eventually she became the chairperson of Pakistan's yellow cab association. Once she was established, she offered to teach young women how to drive taxis, but there was little interest. Even her daughters didn't express enthusiasm....
----------
"Even the policemen who stopped us at security checkpoints also knew her... we were so happy to see a woman driving a taxi."

Although Zahida has been feted for being Pakistan's first female taxi-driver, she still has many bitter memories of her struggles as a single mother working hard on the road.

Her own mother disapproved of her career choice and only resentfully accepted it when the media gave her positive coverage.

And she is estranged from her children now.

"I am old now and I get tired. It's hard for me to drive all the time but what can I do? My sons don't help," she said.

"If I had a chance I would have become a doctor."

Just as she said that to me, a passing taxi driver stopped his car and got out to reverentially greet Zahida.

Despite her travails, she is clearly a respected presence on the streets of Islamabad.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on pregnant women's deaths in Rajathan due to tainted UV fluids:

..The (three) doctors have been charged with negligence and irregularities in purchases of medicines.

The women died after they were given infected intravenous (IV) fluids at two hospitals in Jodhpur city.

Laboratory tests had confirmed that IV fluids supplied by a local company were "tainted", officials said.

The women died after severe haemorrhaging after they were administered with the IV fluids, authorities say.

India accounts for the highest number of maternal deaths in the world, with tens of thousands of women dying every year due to pregnancy-related problems.

...


Here's a Deccan Herald story on tainted medicines in India:

It is said that roughly 10 per cent of the medicines available in the market are counterfeit, contaminated or substandard. Profits are huge in the trade. This is a massive racket that involves not just illicit manufacturers but a long chain that includes distributors and then, of course, the shops and hospitals through which these spurious medicines are pushed. It is alleged that pharmacists selling counterfeit drugs profit from doing so. If manufactures are able to push their contaminated drugs easily, it is because hospital authorities are not vigilant. They prefer to purchase medicines from those who grease their palms rather than trusted manufacturers. The problem of contaminated medicines is not one that is confined to allopathic medicines. Testing of some samples of ayurvedic or homeopathic medicines has revealed presence of toxic metal.

Indian pharmaceutical companies export medicines to Africa and Latin America. Therefore, the manufacture of substandard drugs and contaminated fluids poses a grave public health threat that extends far beyond India’s borders. Stern action against those responsible for Jodhpur tragedy is welcome. But it must not stop there. The government must act against other manufacturers of counterfeit and contaminated medicines. The crime they are engaging in is not a minor one. It cannot be brushed aside as mere negligence as they are causing the death of people. They cannot be allowed to play with people’s lives. It is undermining the legitimacy of our medical system.

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'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.

------

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...

Sharia in India? BBC says young Indian couple stoned to death for having an affair:

Police in India say they have arrested eight people for stoning to death a young couple who had a love affair which met with their disapproval.

The accused include the parents of the murdered woman, who died alongside her lover. He came from a lower social group in Uttar Pradesh state.

There have been many cases in India where people have been killed for defying tradition and family honour.

Often these crimes are endorsed, or even encouraged, by village elders.

In the latest instance, police believe that Rajiv Verma and his girlfriend Renu Pal were stoned to death by a mob of about 200 people, including many of the girl's relatives.

The officer in charge of the investigation told the BBC that Renu's mother was suspected of playing a leading role in the killings.

The couple were murdered apparently because of the mob's "shame" that Renu, a student, should fall in love with her teacher, who came from a lower social group or caste.

The police said that community leaders had warned the couple to break off their relationship, but three days before their deaths, they ran off together.

Last month India's Supreme Court warned senior officials that they could be prosecuted if they failed to prevent such killings from taking place.

It said that in some cases village councils had encouraged or even ordered the deaths.

Riaz Haq said...

It's ludicrous to talk about human freedom in India, a country at the center of slave trade in the 21st century, according to NY Times.

Unfortunately, brains and personality aren’t always enough, and India is the center of the 21st-century slave trade. This country almost certainly has the largest number of human-trafficking victims in the world today.

If M. is sold to a brothel, she will have no defense against H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases. Decisions about using a condom are made by the customer or the brothel owner, not by the girl. In one brothel I slipped into to conduct some interviews, there was not a single condom available.


http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/02/opinion/02kristof.html?adxnnl=1&ref=humantrafficking&adxnnlx=1307247056-dZg98kIHqVnNASeZiOw1Rg

Riaz Haq said...

Indian woman gang raped and set alight in Uttar Pradeash, according to the BBC:

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...

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 a report by Oxfam's Caroline Gluck posted on Reliefweb:

Pakistan did not carry out essential land reforms soon after independence. As a result, critics say, Pakistan's agricultural and rural sectors are characterised by highly feudal relationships which keep many in abject poverty, including bonded labour. It's estimated that more than 60% of farmers in Sindh are landless, while vast tracts of farmland are still owned by small wealthy elites who wield huge political and social influence.

Sindh's land distribution programme is a bold step forward. For the first time in Pakistan as well as South Asia, state land is being specifically distributed to landless women peasants, in an attempt to begin reducing poverty and bringing about much wider social changes in rural areas.

"It's very important for me to get land"

When I visited the packed kutchari, or open hearing, it was bustling with activity. Many women and their families had traveled in vans organised by Participatory Development Initiatives (PDI), a local partner supported by Oxfam, to ensure as many deserving women as possible had the chance to register for land. PDI staff were also on hand to help those unable to read and write to fill out land application forms; and for weeks earlier had carried out awareness campaigns about the land distribution programme, including using local radio broadcasts.

"It's very important for me to get land," said mother of four, Janat, who currently farms on four acres of land belonging to her landlord. Her family only receive a quarter of the crops they cultivate - the landlord takes the rest.

"We want land of our own to pass on to our children; to have our own house and not live with threats or the fear of having to move. A landlord can ask us to leave at any time," she explained.

Another lady, Sakina, who traveled with her six-year-old son, chipped in. "Security is a priority for us. If we own land, we will have a safe house; no corrupt people can snatch our crops from us... There are always threats from influential people who can take the land from us."

----

The second phase of distribution is now solely targeting landless women. It hopes to iron out many of the flaws in the original process, as well as offering women longer-term packages of agricultural support including providing seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and technical help.

Faisal Ahmed Uqaili, co-ordinator of Sindh government's Land Distribution Programme, acknowledges that about 50% of the original land allocated had proved problematic. But he says that lessons have been learnt and around 80% of cases have been settled. Officials were also under strict orders to ensure greater transparency, he says, to stop nepotism and corruption. There had been cases reported of officials trying to sell application papers to the women, or grant land to people favoured by influential political leaders.

"You need to say the glass is half full instead of half-empty," Faisal told me. "When you meet these success stories, women are now making a livelihood for their husbands and families. There is a marked difference. If change is coming in the life of the people for this allotted land and for a fairly large percentage of people, then it's the start of success."

Mother-of-seven Beebul Hassan's face lights up as she holds up a slip of paper with a signature showing that she's been successful in her application. She is now the proud owner of four acres of land.


http://reliefweb.int/node/357648

Riaz Haq said...

USAID has launched a "Women In Trade" initiative in Pakistan, according to Business Recorder:

ISLAMABAD: In conjunction with several multinational firms, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is launching the Women in Trade Initiative to increase the participation of Pakistani women in the international trade sector.

“This initiative is part of the United States’ commitment to the people of Pakistan to support women’s empowerment,” said Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, wife of US Ambassador Cameron Munter, at the launch of the Women in Trade Initiative, says a press release received here on Tuesday.

“By raising the role of women in the international trade sector, we can enable them to contribute not only to Pakistan’s economy, but to the overall development of the country.”

Under this initiative, USAID has arranged three-month internships for 17 female university graduates with well-known companies such as TARGET Sourcing Services Pakistan, TEXLYNX, NISHAT Group, and Li & Fung Pakistan.

These women will gain skills in sourcing and marketing of products, product development and diversification and supply chain management.

The international trade sector in Pakistan currently employs very few women in managerial positions.

A recent USAID-funded study has shown women comprise less than 10 percent of management and 20 percent of junior staff in trade companies.

The Women in Trade initiative will work to set up linkages between international firms and local universities so that more women have opportunities to explore careers in international trade.

The USAID-funded initiative will also help companies select the best-suited male and female university graduates for training and potential future recruitment.


http://www.brecorder.com/pakistan/business-a-economy/19935-usaid-launches-women-in-trade-initiative-in-pakistan.html

Riaz Haq said...

Is India's population policy sexist? asks Soutik Biswas of the BBC:

Can the promise of a car or a mixer grinder help keep India's population in check?

Well, that's what health authorities in the northern state of Rajasthan apparently believe. They are offering a cheap car, among other things, as a prize in an attempt to sign up some 20,000 people to meet an ambitious sterilisation target. Time will tell whether this turns out to be another gimmick or an innovative incentive.

But what worries many is the ethics of such sterilisation drives in a largely patriarchal society like India.

As population expert Usha Rai says, the promise of such lucrative incentives typically make husbands push their wives to undergo sterilisation and avoid a range of contraceptives that are available to help limit the size of their families. There's enough evidence to support this concern.

Some 37% of India's married women - who use modern family planning methods - have opted for sterilisation, a government study has found. (Only 1% of males had opted for sterilisation.) Intrauterine devices, condoms and pills were being used by some 10% of the women.
Draconian

In India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, with 200 million people - and an economy the size of Qatar which has a population of less than 2 million - the bulk of women who use any modern method of family planning get sterilised.

Ever since the 1970s India has used a combination of coercion and incentives to carry out sterilisation drives to check population growth.

During the 22-month-old memergency in the mid-1970s when prime minister Indira Gandhi suspended democratic rule, the government embarked on a draconian campaign to sterilise poor men - they were dragged into operating theatres in makeshift camps, and police surrounded entire villages at night and herded the men into the camps. ....

Even the Planning Commission admits that female sterilisation has become the mainstay of the programme. High levels of infant and child mortality and preference for sons means that women delay sterilisation.

Experts believe that women should be offered more reversible choices of contraception like injectibles and implants which are not presently offered under India's family planning programme.

More importantly, they say, men should be pushed to take more responsibility for limiting their family - male methods account for only 6% of contraceptive use in India. Should women be bearing the brunt?


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14117505

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's youthful female foreign minister Mrs. Hina Rabbani Khar stands in sharp contrast to her counterpart senile old FM SM Krishna of India who couldn't tell the difference between his and Portuguese FM's speech at a recent UN meeting.


Here's a Telegraph report on Pakistan's first female foreign minister:

Khar was sworn in on Tuesday and immediately faces a stiff test of all her negotiating skills. Next week she will travel to New Delhi in the latest round of turbulent talks over the future of Kashmir.

President Asif Zardari said her promotion from junior minister to the cabinet was a tribute to her skills.

"The elevation will also send positive signals about the soft image of Pakistan," he added.

But her promotion is not without risks.

A picture of the young mother-of-two wearing a tight pair of blue jeans published in local newspapers raised eyebrows in a country where most women are expected to wear loose clothing that hides their curves.

Yet she is one of a number of rising women politicians in Pakistan – a country where women's rights are so neglected that only 41% of girls complete primary education – following in the footsteps of Benazir Bhutto, who became the country's first female prime minister, at the age of 35.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/8650160/Pakistan-appoints-34-year-old-woman-as-its-new-foreign-minister.html

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

Riaz Haq said...

Here are excepts from a recent Businessweek story titled "On the job in Pakistan: Women":

When Naz Khan became Pakistan’s first female money-market trader 19 years ago, KASB Securities, the Merrill Lynch (BAC) affiliate that had hired her, needed to build a women’s restroom in its Karachi office. By the time Khan left last year to become chief financial officer at Engro Fertilizer, KASB had so many women on staff that “we had to get in line” to use the restroom, she says.
----------
More of them than ever are finding employment, doing everything from pumping gasoline and serving burgers at McDonald’s (MCD) to running major corporations. About 22 percent of Pakistani females over the age of 10 now work, up from 14 percent a decade ago, government statistics show. Women now hold 78 of the 342 seats in the National Assembly, and in July, Hina Rabbani Khar, 34, became Pakistan’s first female Foreign Minister. “The cultural norms regarding women in the workplace have changed,” says Maheen Rahman, 34, chief executive officer at IGI Funds, which manages some $400 million in assets. Rahman says she plans to keep recruiting more women for her company.

Much of the progress has come because women stay in school longer. More than 42 percent of Pakistan’s 2.6 million high school students last year were girls, up from 30 percent 18 years ago. Women made up about 22 percent of the 68,000 students in Pakistani universities in 1993; today, 47 percent of Pakistan’s 1.1 million university students are women, according to the Higher Education Commission. Half of all MBA graduates hired by Habib Bank, Pakistan’s largest lender, are now women. “Parents are realizing how much better a lifestyle a family can have if girls work,” says Sima Kamil, 54, who oversees 1,400 branches as head of retail banking at Habib. “Every branch I visit has one or two girls from conservative backgrounds,” she says.

There’s still a long way to go. The employment rate for men is triple that for women, and Pakistan’s female literacy rate is just 45 percent, vs. 70 percent for men. In agriculture, where women account for three-fourths of all workers, female laborers such as cotton and chili pickers earn less than 50¢ a day. In the informal manufacturing sector—companies that make, say, blouses, bedsheets, or soccer balls—women make up 57 percent of the workforce, but they spend more hours on the job and receive lower pay than their male counterparts, according to the Pakistan Institute of Labour and Economic Research. In 2009, the agency says, women in light manufacturing earned an average of 2,912 rupees ($34) monthly, about 40 percent of the average earnings for men.
---------
Some companies believe hiring women gives them a competitive advantage. Habib Bank says adding female tellers has helped improve customer service at the formerly state-owned lender because the men on staff don’t want to appear rude in front of women. And makers of household products say female staffers help them better understand the needs of their customers. “The buyers for almost all our product ranges are women,” says Fariyha Subhani, 46, CEO of Unilever Pakistan Foods, where 106 of the 872 employees are women. “Having women selling those products makes sense because they themselves are the consumers,” she says.

To attract more women, Unilever last year offered some employees the option to work from home, and the company has run an on-site day-care center since 2003. Engro, which has 100 women in management positions, last year introduced flexible working hours, a day-care center, and a support group where female employees can discuss challenges they encounter. “Today there is more of a focus at companies on diversity,” says Engro Fertilizer CFO Khan, 42. The next step, she says, is ensuring that “more women can reach senior management levels.”

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/now-on-the-job-in-pakistan-women-09082011.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a BBC report on child marriages in India:

Some 40% of the world's child marriages take place in India. In the northern state of Rajasthan I witnessed the wedding of two sisters who were around six and 11 years old.

As older female relatives fussed over them - dressing them in sparkly red-and-gold outfits and applying full bridal make-up - the brides, like obedient children, quietly went along with it all.

Child marriages are illegal in India, and are punishable with a fine of Rs100,000 (£1,300) and two years in prison for anyone who performs, conducts or negligently fails to prevent a child marriage. But this didn't seem to bother any of the guests who danced merrily or the priest who solemnly chanted the wedding rites.

The brides' grandfather complained, "I hate the government for trying to stop us. This is the way we've always done things. The government bans this, saying do not get under-aged children married, but we don't care and we do these weddings anyway".

Dinesh Sharma, a local NGO worker, explained that in remote villages child marriage is usually fully supported by the entire community, and it is rare for someone to inform the police so they can be stopped.

While child brides in Rajasthan tend to be married off very young, it is usually to grooms of a similar age and it is not until they are older, around 15 or 16, that they actually start living together as man and wife.

Even so, being married so young does limit their opportunities.

Rukhmani, a 26-year-old mother of two, was married at six years old and started living with her husband when she was 15. "Had I been married later, I'd have learned to read and write," she says. "If I'd studied, I wouldn't have had to work in the scorching heat, harvesting in the fields."

Mamta, another child bride, also regretted not being able to study, which she felt would have given her a chance to be independent. Instead, she'd felt she had no option but to endure regular beatings from her husband.

According to a study by The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), girls in some Indian states who were married before 18, were twice as likely to report being beaten, slapped or threatened by their husbands than girls who married later.

Being forced into early marriage is one of the biggest obstacles to getting an education. For field workers of one small NGO in Rajasthan, Shiv Shiksha Samiti, encouraging girls to refuse marriage and stay on in school is crucial.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15082550

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 an excerpt of Summitpost story on Pakistani woman mountain climber Samina Baig:

The Pakistan Youth Outreach Second Climbing Expedition in winter to Mingligh sar 6050m was indeed amazing, Samina Baig being the first woman from Pakistan to go on a winter attempt in the Karakorum was a great mile stone in Pakistani women’s adventure history.Samina Baig who had topped Chashkin Sar Peak,which was uncllimbed, in August-Septermber 2010. The team along with Samina set High Camp at nearly 5525m which was new for any girl from Pakistan in winter and pushed for the summit the next day. Due to extreme cold and insufficient clothing for Samina (due to financial constraints) mainly down jacket and pants, the team decided to return approximately 150m short of the summit. Samina reached the height of approximately 5900m. Later the weather turned to hell and we called off the Expedition however the PYO first basic mountaineering training camp for young school boys and girls was very successful.This expedition was dedicated to all those who have been affected by the floods in Pakistan this year.
Since Karakorum has different weather conditions, the winter arrives late November in the high mountains of Karakorum, according to the calendar year it has been said that December climbing expeditions are not a full calendar year expedition. However a few years back the Alpine club of Pakistan organized a climbing expedition to Peer Peak in the Karakorum which was named “Winter Expedition”. Similarly there was another expedition in November by locals which was also named Winter Expedition. Looking at the extreme weather situation in the high mountains, December and January is normally considered winter in the Karakorum, Pamir area hence the expedition is also Winter Expedition.
The expedition kicked off on the 8th of December 2010 after three days acclimatization in Shimshal Valley. We hired 12 porters, two cooks and Mr Yausaf Khan, former army climber as our expedition advisor. The first day was spent at Korband. During the winter days are short and most streams at different summer camp sites get frozen therefore the first night spent at Korband was pretty chilly and there was a lot of frost in the tents. After a steep climb of Ghar Sar the next day the team managed to reach Uch Forzeen in 9 hours, the chill was great though the day was sunny. Uch Forzeen provided us with good shelter for cooking in the hut but sleeping in the tent was pretty hard, at midnight I found my sleeping bag frosty and frozen half due to my breathing but a great adventure all the same! Uch Forzeen to Arbon Purian was a nice journey, the frozen slopes of Arbon Purian were nice for practice and play adventure in the cold climate.


http://www.summitpost.org/samina-baig-account-of-first-pakistani-women-s-winter-climbing-expedition/698778

Riaz Haq said...

57% adolescent boys, 53% girls think wife beating is justified, reports Times of India:

NEW DELHI: It's a shocking revelation in this day and age. Not just Indian men, but even adolescents - in the 15-19 age group - feel that wife beating is justified.

Unicef's " Global Report Card on Adolescents 2012", says that 57% of adolescent boys in India think a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife.

Over half of the Indian adolescent girls, or around 53% think that a husband is justified in beating his wife. In comparison, 41% women in Bangladesh and 54% in Sri Lanka harbour a similar feeling . In Nepal, however, the prevalence of both men and women justifying domestic violence is inordinately high at 88% and 80%, respectively.

According to the report, societal attitudes that convey acceptance or justification of domestic violence are making girls and women more vulnerable to abuse. It says, "Available data for developing countries show that nearly 50% of girls and women aged 15-49 believe that wifebeating is justified... girls aged between 15 and 19 years hold the same views as women in the 45-49 age group."

The report explains that because of reporting bias, this may be an under-estimation of the actual size of the problem in several countries. Many factors contribute to the incidence of domestic violence . For instance, in many places, child marriage, gender-based power relations, women's low economic status and traditional practices or social norms perpetuate it.

Mission director for India's National Rural Health Mission Anuradha Gupta said spousal violence takes place both in developed and developing countries "though the degree would vary" . She said, "When girls are brought up with the message that a woman's status in a family is inferior, she starts to accept whatever behaviour is meted out by her husband or in-laws ." She added, "When a boy grows up seeing his father assault his mother, he starts to accept such a behavior and repeats it."

Ranjana Kumari, director of Centre for Social Research, said, "Most women think this is their fate. Education or economic prosperity alone can't improve the situation."

Times View

These findings on youth attitudes towards marital violence should not just be seen as shocking. They should also teach us the limitations of laws on domestic violence. Such laws may be important to help minimize violence against women. But they are clearly not enough, especially when the victim herself does not perceive any wrong in being beaten up. A strong legal framework to deal with domestic attacks must be backed up, therefore, by a sustained and intensive campaign to raise awareness on the issue among men and women. Steps to raise the levels of female education would play an important role.


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/57-of-boys-53-of-girls-think-wife-beating-is-justified/articleshow/12862006.cms

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'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
------
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.
---------
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.
---------
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.
----------
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 Times of India on Amartya Sen's assessment of India:

MUMBAI: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has expressed shock at some of the suggestions made by politicians in the wake of the horrific gang rape in New Delhi last month. Speaking at the G L Mehta memorial lecture titled 'India: A defence and a critique', at the IIT-Bombay campus on Saturday evening, he said, "Ever since the gang-rape silly statements about men and women have come from extremely conservative quarters."

Slamming the state for the way it has approached human development and the prevalent gender inequality in the state, he said, "Some people think the atrocities that this woman suffered, and many others suffer, is a problem of urban areas and that it does not exist in rural areas. Dalit women have been violated and subjected to violence day in and day out without any group taking up their cause. The whole issue of death and neglect is far greater than we assume. It has an immediate effect on human life because half the people in the world are women."

Sen spoke at length in the lecture that lasted for an hour and a half. He elaborated on the need to rectify the place of women in India and spoke of how Bangladesh has overtaken India in every parameter of human development, which has a lot to do with gender equality. "In Bangladesh's politics, gender equality became increasingly important," said Sen. ``Not too long ago Bangladesh was behind India on all indices. Today Bangladesh is the only country with more girls in schools than boys. It has a higher life expectancy, lower mortality rates and women in the labour force.''

Quoting a statement that Mahatma Gandhi made in 1931 when he was in London, Sen said, "Gandhi made an important statement about counting women as equal partners. I think it is important to recognize that the father of the nation was clear on this subject."

Sen felt the state had to keep its people at the core of its policies. Comparing India's success story with that of its other neighbour China, he said, "The difference is the commitment to deal with the basic needs of the economy, the society and the people. If you see the Chinese economy, they have concentrated on economic growth by expanding human development. The complete depravation of basic amenities in India could dim high growth rate and the quality of humanity."

Speaking about the question confounding India, Sen said, "You cannot be dogmatic about keeping the market out. However, relying entirely on the market doesn't help either. You have to have a combination of both."


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Amartya-Sen-shocked-over-politicians-comments-on-Delhi-gang-rape/articleshow/17906800.cms

Riaz Haq said...

Here's TOI on dangers to foreign women visitors to India:

On January 7, Japanese actor Yu Asada took a cab from the IGI Airport in Delhi to her hotel in Mahipalpur. It was her maiden trip to India, and she had come to Delhi to meet the cast and crew of My Japanese Niece, a film by Manipuri director Mohen Naorem. That taxi ride was the worst she ever had.

"The cabbie charged me Rs 4,800. When I told him I couldn't pay so much, he talked about the recent gang rape in Delhi and insinuated that I might meet the same fate. I was numb with fear," she told TOI.

American Michelle Tanner (name changed) didn't have to part with her money when she came to India on a backpacking trip in 2010, but she did become a victim of sexual harassment. "Someone pinched my bottom when I went to Chandni Chowk; when I turned around to see who it was, I felt a hand grab my breast. I felt so humiliated that I immediately returned to my hotel, shut myself in my room, and broke down," she said.

Both Asada and Tanner did not approach cops. Neither do the hordes of foreign travellers who face sexual harassment in varying degrees in India. Their reason is simple: when local women with all their familiarity with the law and advantage of language have such a tough time reporting a sexual offence or getting an FIR lodged, what chance do they have as foreigners?

British woman Kaya Enrich, 27, learnt this the hard way when she was molested by a plumber in Gujarat in 2009 and decided to lodge a case. She was allegedly humiliated in a metropolitan court in Ahmedabad. "The questioning was aggressive, and it seemed to be aimed at demeaning me as far as possible so as to weaken the case. I was asked everything in Gujarati and told to answer in Gujarati even though I had asked for an interpreter," she had said back then.

At an even greater disadvantage are those women who don't come from the English-speaking world and, therefore, do not dare move an inch without help from their foreign offices. India doesn't have an enviable reputation for dispensing quick justice; and tourists with their tight itineraries don't want to go through the rigmarole of procedure, never-ending investigations and sanity-defying questions that promise very little comfort.

According to statistics shared by the market research division of the ministry of tourism, 6.65 million tourists came to India last year. Of them, roughly 40% (2.66 million) were women. This figure is likely to go up with India setting a target of increasing its share of arrivals from the current 0.6% to 1% by the end of the 12th plan. This simply means more and more women will come to India, either for work or pleasure, and quite likely, carry home sordid tales of harassment: tales that would eventually find vent in blogs and websites and dent the India story....


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-no-place-for-foreign-women/articleshow/18094603.cms

Riaz Haq said...

Here's Time on child rapes in India:

One of the more disturbing things to come to light since the Dec. 16 Delhi gang rape is just how many cases of sexual violence in India involve children. In the media’s ongoing effort to keep attention on the problem of sexual assault, the fact that children are so frequently the victims of brutal sexual attacks has provided yet another rude wake up call, and a grim reminder that the cases coming to light are only a small part of a much bigger problem. (Have a look at the rolling headlines at the bottom of this page of the Times of India.) “There is a lot of attention on sexual violence now,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch, on Thursday. “We need to focus the attention on the sexual abuse of children.”

That is the goal of a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW). The Feb. 7 report calls for the government to do more to protect children from sexual abuse. In more than 100 interviews, case studies of multiple child victims lay bare the pervasive institutional weaknesses and attitudes that have created a “conspiracy of silence” around child sex abuse in India. According to UNICEF, one in three rape victims in India is a child, and more than 7200 children are raped each year, with many more cases believed to go unreported. In 2007, a government-sponsored survey of 12,500 children in 13 states “reported serious and widespread sexual abuse,” but found that only 3% of the cases in which children said they had been abused had been reported to the police.

(PHOTOS: Tens of Millions Gather at India’s Maha Kumbh Mela)

That serious under-reporting is due in large part to how victims are treated once they do make the difficult choice to come forward. In four of the cases documented in the report, victims said doctors had used the much-maligned “finger test” to determine whether they had been raped or not. This type of examination is permitted under current Indian law but is of little forensic value and risks re-traumatizing the victim. Doctors routinely showed outright insensitivity to the young victims, a fact that regularly discouraged families from pursuing their cases legally, the report found.

Reported cases can be met with callousness by the cops. Indian law mandates that every police station have a trained child welfare officer, and that every district have units to deal with juvenile cases. But the efficacy of the units varies wildly, particularly in under-resourced districts. In one case detailed in the HRW report, a 12-year-old girl named Krishna was raped by a man from a neighboring village in eastern Uttar Pradesh. When she went to report the crime, she says she was detained by police for nearly two weeks. “I was kept in the police station and locked up,” she told the rights group. “They kept insisting that I change my statement, otherwise they threatened that something would happen to me.” For cases that do make it to court, the legal process can be excruciatingly painful and slow for families, and convictions are rare, according to the Childline India Foundation....


http://world.time.com/2013/02/08/india-must-do-more-to-prevent-child-sex-abuse-report-says/

Riaz Haq said...

An excerpt from the HDR 2013 report summary mentioning Pakistan is as follows:

More than four-fifths of these developing countries increased their trade to output ratio between 1990 and 2012. Among the exceptions in the subgroup that also made substantial improvement in HDI value are Indonesia, Pakistan and Venezuela, three large countries that are considered global players in world markets, exporting or importing from at least 80 economies. Two smaller countries whose trade
to output ratio declined (Mauritius and Panama) continue to trade at levels much higher than would be expected for countries at comparable income levels.

Here's a Business Standard report on HDI 2013 in South Asia:

Of 187 countries, India's Human Development Index (HDI), essentially a composite measure of health, education and income, rank stands at 136, on a par with Africa's Equatorial Guinea and just above Cambodia and Laos in Southeast Asia. Even over a longer period (between 2000 and 2012), it registered average annual HDI growth of 1.50 per cent, lower than Pakistan's (1.74 per cent).

Viewed in the context of the BRICs grouping (Brazil, Russia, India and China), India's standing is much below its peers - China is ranked 101st, Russia 55th and Brazil 85th. In fact, India remains squarely stuck at the bottom end of the second-lowest category in the report -Medium Human Development - even as neighbour Sri Lanka (99) moves a step higher towards becoming a "high human development" nation.

A closer look at India's performance reveals more inadequacies, especially in education. Though the country's life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling and per capita GNI are comparable to peers, India's "expected years of schooling" is significantly below others, including Vietnam, Bhutan and even Swaziland.

Gender inequality
India is no easy country for women. The Human Development Report's Gender Inequality Index, which assesses gender-based inequalities based on reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity, ranks India 132nd out of 148 countries, below Bangladesh (111) and Pakistan (123).

"26.6 per cent of adult women have a secondary or higher level of education, compared to 50.4 per cent of their male counterparts (in India)," said an explanatory note. "Female participation in the labour market is 29 per cent, compared with 80.7 per cent for men."

Difficult future?
Though the report recognises key initiatives undertaken in India in recent years - particularly reforms in the education system, the direct cash transfer programme, a rise in social sector spending, public-private-partnerships across sectors and growing connectivity -vital concerns remain.

"India has the most projected child deaths over 2010-2015, about 7.9 million, accounting for nearly half the deaths among children under five in Asia," the report said. "China has more people than India, but is projected to have less than a quarter (1.7 million) the number of child deaths over 2010-2015."

India also has to contend with a substantial, uneducated population, possibly partly counteracting the country's feted demographic dividend. "Despite the recent expansion in basic schooling and impressive growth in better educated Indians, the proportion of the adult population with no education will decline only slowly," the report predicted.

"Even under an optimistic fast-track scenario, which assumes education expansion similar to Korea's, India's education distribution in 2050 will still be highly unequal, with a sizeable group of uneducated (mostly elderly) adults."


http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/un-report-belies-india-s-claims-of-inclusive-growth-113031500034_1.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a recent Telegraph story on honor killings in India:

In a submission to India's Supreme Court, leaders of caste councils made a plea for greater understanding of those who kill their children for 'honour' but denied encouraging them.

Their submission came amid widespread anger in India over high levels of violence against women following the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a bus as she travelled home from the cinema with a friend.

According to campaigners there are up to 10,000 'honour killings' in India every year. Most of the victims are young women killed by their fathers and brothers over 'forbidden' relationships or for insisting on marrying a man they love.

Many of those killed were in India's northern states where councils have issued stern warnings against men and women from the same sub-caste marrying each other. Caste elders regard the practice as akin to incest even though the individuals are not related.

Caste leaders have now made a submission to the Supreme Court spelling out demands for new marriage laws banning those in the same sub-castes from marrying one another.

Om Prakash Dhankar, leader of the Sarva Khap Panchayat, which represents 67 groups in Haryana state, said those who killed for honour are good people who care about their reputation.

"The honour killings are carried out by law abiding, educated and respectable people, who fear the society and always try to guard their reputation. They always care about their esteem and public image and do not want any harm to their public standing," he told The Daily Telegraph.

"We have many cases of honour killings, where the families were peace loving and law abiding and were liberal towards their children. They later on went to kill their children to save their honour in the society."

Those who break long-standing customs by marrying within their sub-caste risked creating deformed children, he claimed.



http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/9803127/Indian-caste-councils-praise-families-that-carry-out-honour-killings.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report on the rape of a 5-year-old girl in India:

A five year old girl who was raped and left in a critical condition has been abandoned by her parents at India's leading hospital, an opposition leader has revealed amid growing anger over sexual assaults on children.

Sushma Swaraj, parliamentary leader of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, was visiting another five year old rape victim in a critical condition whose case had sparked protests throughout the capital when she was told by nurses of the abandoned girl and other victims they had treated.

The discovery of more child rape victims at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has revived the intense debate and national introspection over the scale of sexual violencein the country which followed the gang rape of a 23 year old student on a Delhi bus in December. She died two weeks later from chronic internal injuries.

Mrs Swaraj said she had believed that debate would lead to improvemed public safety for women, but Indian women are now more at risk than before. "I had thought that after Damini case thinking will change. Unfortunately, the situation has worsened," she said.

Human rights campaigners said there had been a 336 per cent increased in child rapes in India since 2001, from 2,113 cases to 7,112 in 2011. But even this figure is likely to be an underestimate because only a minority of cases are reported to the police, they said.

In this latest case, the family had reported their daughter missing soon after she disappeared but the police were reluctant to investigate and later offered them 2000 rupees, around 25 pounds, to remain silent about it, the family said. When the family and their friends demonstrated over their treatment, one officer, who has since been suspended, was seen slapping a young female protestor.

Their daughter had been kidnapped on April 15th and raped and object-raped in an hour long ordeal before she was locked in a room and left to die. She was found 40 hours later and was rushed to hospital where doctors said she had suffered chronic internal injuries and that they had found a bottle of hair oil inside her. She has since had a colostomy operation and may face further reconstructive surgery, but is now in a stable condition, doctors said....


http://www.businessinsider.com/5-year-old-victim-abandoned-in-hospital-as-india-faces-child-rape-crisis-2013-4

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a CNN report on acid attack victim in India:

New Delhi (CNN) -- At 17, Sonali Mukherjee had everything going for her. She was a beautiful, intelligent and ambitious young woman, dedicated to excelling in her studies.
She was president of the Student Union, captain of the National Cadet Corps and an honor student set to pursue a PhD in sociology despite her modest family background -- her father used to work as a security guard in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand and her mother was a housewife.
"I had seen my parents struggle for the most basic things, so I strived to achieve something big so that I could give my family a better life," she said.

However, Mukherjee's life changed after three male students from her college started harassing her. She didn't respond to their advances, so they threatened to destroy her.

At first, she wasn't intimidated. During her time in the cadet corps, an organization in all schools and colleges in India aimed at grooming students to join the military, Mukherjee had won several prizes for her shooting skills.
On a hot summer day when Mukherjee was fast asleep on the roof of her house, the three men threw a jug of acid on her. For the first few seconds she was in shock and didn't know what had happened.
"All I could feel was this tremendous amount of pain, it was burning, like someone had thrown me into a fire," she tells CNN 10 years after the 2003 attack.
In the fraction of a second it took for the acid to melt her face and part of her upper chest, Mukherjee lost her ability to see, hear, eat, walk and talk.

Mukherjee, now 27, said she looked and felt like a corpse.
"I had hardly even lived my life, but that one incident changed the entire meaning of my life. It felt like the light had gone out all of a sudden, and darkness had surrounded me on all sides. I had no hope, I didn't know what to do," she says.
Mukherjee's heartbroken grandfather died soon after and her mother fell into depression -- only her father remained resilient.
"I can't tell you how much it hurts me to see my daughter in this state but being the head of the family I couldn't afford to break down," Charan Das Mukherjee says....


http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/21/world/asia/india-acid-attack/index.html

Riaz Haq said...

Michaela Cross, an American student at the University of Chicago, on her stay in India:

Do I describe the lovely hotel in Goa when my strongest memory of it was lying hunched in a fetal position, holding a pair of scissors with the door bolted shut, while the staff member of the hotel who had tried to rape my roommate called me over and over, and breathing into the phone?

How, I ask, was I supposed to tell these stories at a Christmas party? But how could I talk about anything else when the image of the smiling man who masturbated at me on a bus was more real to me than my friends, my family, or our Christmas tree? All those nice people were asking the questions that demanded answers for which they just weren't prepared.

When I went to India, nearly a year ago, I thought I was prepared. I had been to India before; I was a South Asian Studies major; I spoke some Hindi. I knew that as a white woman I would be seen as a promiscuous being and a sexual prize. I was prepared to follow the University of Chicago’s advice to women, to dress conservatively, to not smile in the streets. And I was prepared for the curiosity my red hair, fair skin and blue eyes would arouse.

But I wasn't prepared.

There was no way to prepare for the eyes, the eyes that every day stared with such entitlement at my body, with no change of expression whether I met their gaze or not. Walking to the fruit seller's or the tailer's I got stares so sharp that they sliced away bits of me piece by piece. I was prepared for my actions to be taken as sex signals; I was not prepared to understand that there were no sex signals, only women's bodies to be taken, or hidden away.

I covered up, but I did not hide. And so I was taken, by eye after eye, picture after picture. Who knows how many photos there are of me in India, or on the internet: photos of me walking, cursing, flipping people off. Who knows how many strangers have used my image as pornography, and those of my friends. I deleted my fair share, but it was a drop in the ocean-- I had no chance of taking back everything they took

For three months I lived this way, in a traveler's heaven and a woman's hell. I was stalked, groped, masturbated at; and yet I had adventures beyond my imagination. I hoped that my nightmare would end at the tarmac, but that was just the beginning. Back home Christmas red seemed faded after vermillion, and food tasted spiceless and bland. Friends, and family, and classes, and therapy, and everything at all was so much less real than the pain, the rage that was coursing through my blood, screaming so loud it deafened me to all other sounds. And after months of elation at living in freedom, months of running from the memories breathing down my neck, I woke up on April Fool's Day and found I wanted to be dead.


http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1023053

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a BBC report on gang-rape of an Indian journalist in Mumbai:

A 22-year-old photojournalist has been gang-raped by five men in the Indian city of Mumbai, police say.

The woman, who was on assignment on Thursday evening in the Lower Parel area when she was attacked, is in hospital with multiple injuries.

She was accompanied by a male colleague who was beaten by her attackers. Police have arrested one of the suspects.

In a similar case last December, a 23-year-old student was gang-raped on a bus in the capital, Delhi.

In that case, the woman and her male friend were brutally assaulted and she later died in hospital from her injuries.

The attack sparked nationwide protests and forced the authorities to introduce tougher laws for crimes against women.

'Reprehensible'
The victim of Thursday's attack worked as an intern with a Mumbai-based English magazine and had gone to the Shakti Mills - a former textile mill that now lies abandoned and in ruins - for a photo shoot, police said.

She has been admitted to Jaslok hospital in Mumbai, which said that she was stable and able to speak.

"She went through a minor investigation procedure today [Friday] morning. She had both internal and external injuries," the statement said.

Hundreds of demonstrators have staged a silent protest in the city.

Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh said the incident took place between "6pm and 6:30pm on Thursday" and described it as "reprehensible".

"The man [victim's male colleague] was clicking pictures on a camera while the girl was taking pictures on her mobile phone in the dilapidated building when one accused accosted them and inquired why they were there at the railway property," he said.

"He later called four more men to the spot. They tied the male colleague's hands with a belt and took the girl to the bushes and raped her."

Mr Singh said nearly 20 teams had been formed to investigate the case and that all the accused had been identified.

Earlier, police said 35 people had been detained and were being questioned. Sketches of the five accused were also released....


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-23806871

Anonymous said...

#Indian diplomat, Women's Rights Advocate Paid Her Nanny Three Dollars An Hour

http://gawker.com/womens-rights-advocate-paid-her-nanny-three-dollars-an-1483881548 #India

Riaz Haq said...

Police in India's West Bengal state have arrested 13 men in connection with a gang rape of a woman, allegedly on orders of village elders who objected to her relationship with a man.

The 20-year-old woman has been admitted to a hospital in a critical condition.

Unofficial courts in India's villages often sanction killings of couples deemed to have violated local codes.

Scrutiny of sexual violence in India has grown since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus.


Village 'justice'

July 2012: Asara village in Uttar Pradesh state bans love marriages and bars women under 40 from shopping alone, using mobile phones outside, and orders them to cover their heads when outdoors
May 2011: Eight people arrested in Uttar Pradesh for stoning to death a young couple who had a love affair
September 2010: A Dalit (formerly "untouchable") woman in Madhya Pradesh is ordered to pay 15,000 rupees ($330) compensation to the high-caste owners of a dog for feeding their pet. The owners say the dog became "untouchable"
August 2010: Village elders in West Bengal order a woman to walk naked in front of large crowds for having "an illicit love affair with a man from a different community"
June 2009: A Muslim woman and her Hindu husband kill themselves after the local village council orders them to annul their marriage or face death

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-25855325

Anonymous 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

Riaz Haq said...

India ranks 132 out of 187 countries on the gender inequality index – lower than Pakistan (123), according to the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Report 2013.

More In Women
U.N., U.S. 'Horrified' by Recent Sexual Assaults in India
Photos: Indian Village Where Two Girls were Raped, Hanged
Study: Rape in India a ‘Major National Problem’
Indian Politicians: Forgive Men for Rape; Hang Women
India Court Hands Down Death Sentences for Rape
The report said all countries in South Asia, with the exception of Afghanistan, were a better place for women than India, with Sri Lanka (75) topping them all. Nepal ranked 102nd and Bangladesh 111th.

The annual U.N. report assesses how well countries world-wide are performing on human development indicators like health, education and income.

The gender inequality index measures the loss in a country’s progress and human development because of gender inequality in three sectors: reproductive health, women empowerment and labor market participation.

The report notes that “gender inequality is especially tragic not only because it excludes women from basic social opportunities, but also because it gravely imperils the life prospects of future generations.”

India ranks low partly because of its skewed sex ratio, with only 914 females every 1000 males, according to Indian government data. Indian families often prefer boys to girls, and female feticide is tragically common.

The UNDP study says that only 29% of Indian women above the age of 15 in 2011 were a part of the country’s labor force, compared to 80.7% men. In Parliament, only 10.9% of lawmakers are women, while in Pakistan 21.1% are women.

In United States which ranks 42nd on the list, 57.5% women and 70.1% men are a part of the labor force. China fared even better, landing 35th.

http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/03/15/india-ranks-lower-than-pakistan-on-gender-equality/