Thursday, February 2, 2012

UN Finds India Most Deadly For Little Girls

Superfreakonomics authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have argued that if women could choose their birthplace, India might not be a wise choice for any of them to be born. They say that those lucky enough not to be aborted as fetuses face inequality and cruelty at every turn because of the low social status given to Indian women.



The latest UN data proves Levitt and Dubner right. An Indian girl aged 1-5 years is 75% more likely to die than an Indian boy, making India the most deadly place for newborn baby girls, according to data released by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA). The 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 decade of 2000s, there were 56 male child deaths for every 100 female child deaths in India, compared with 111 in the developing world. This ratio has got progressively worse since the 1970s in India, even as Pakistan (120) and Sri Lanka (125) have improved.

The BBC recently reported the case of a toddler girl with serious injuries - human bite marks all over her body, broken arms and a partially smashed head - who is on life support at a New Delhi hospital. This latest UN report makes it difficult to dismiss this shocking case as just an isolated incident. It now raises serious questions about persistent and pervasive gender discrimination against girls before and after birth in the country.

The land of former Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi has been killing its daughters by the millions for decades. Economically resurgent India is witnessing a rapid unfolding of a female genocide across all castes and classes, including the upper caste rich and the educated. Nationwide, the number girls for every 1000 boys has dropped from 975 in 1961 to 910 in 2011. 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.

This latest UN report is a wake-up call for India. Clearly, the problem is much more serious than female abortions. It extends to post natal abuse and neglect leading to high mortality rates for little girls and increasingly skewed male-female ratio. It shows that the Indian government's efforts, like Save the Girl Child, to improve the situation are not working. There is an urgent need for fresh thinking to save the lives of little girls through strong incentives and powerful public-private partnerships.

Here's a video clip about Falak, a baby girl fighting for her life in India:



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Status of Indian Women

Gender Inequality Worst in South Asia

Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India

Women's Status in Pakistan

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

Pakistani Working Women's Silent Revolution

India Leads the World in Child Marriages

Pakistan Ahead of India on Key Human Development Indices

Honor Killings in India

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is no secret, and the low social status given to Indian women is manifest in other aspects of society as well - acid attacks, treatment of widows, and the use of dowry WELL into the 21st century.

Agreed that a country with a cultural past as rich and complex as India is bound to have some old world vs. new world type problems, but if they want to be labeled the world's largest democracy and the next big world superpower, this stuff can't be inherent in society.

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
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Here's Reuters' story on the rape incident:

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

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


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

Riaz Haq said...

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

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

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

But crimes against women are rising too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

HopeWins Junior said...

^^RH: "Here's a NY Times blog post on brutal rape and death of a woman on a New Delhi bus.."
----

Dehli is the rape capital of the world. Now China is furious with India because Chinese women are being targeted by the violent, racist-casteist, misogynistic people of India--

Feb 8, 2013:
http://alturl.com/qtkcg
http://alturl.com/pytew
http://alturl.com/w56o7

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...

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...

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