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:
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
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.
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  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.
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.
^^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:
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....
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....
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.
Rebuffing the moderator who expressed concern about India being unsafe for women, Dutt at the event (Click here) , went on a defensive, saying she had a problem with the narrative that was being built around issues of safety in her country. She quoted Nobel laureate Amartya Sen to say that India was safer for women as compared to the US and the UK where incidences of sexual violence were higher. And she said, even as America dithered over a woman president in White House, India had a woman at the helm four decades ago. Shortly after, she hauled up the Americans on maternity leave, abortion and reproductive rights.
'These are conversations we don't have any longer' Dutt asserted to a rapturous applause in the audience, as well as online.
While fabulous if the intent was to play to the gallery, all of these are exceptionally flawed and one-dimensional arguments that obfuscate the very real and frankly chronic problem of women's safety and position in India.
Let's deal with them one by one.
1) That the US & UK have a higher incidence of sexual violence.
Even if this is indeed true, how does it in any manner absolve us from the moral burden of the fact that 93 women are raped every single day in India? And why must the US and UK perpetually validate or become benchmarks for what is and isn't acceptable for us?
To the very assertion that these countries are more unsafe for women than India however - did Dutt consider the fact that sexual violence is sparsely reported in this country? The British medical journal The Lancet puts the number of victims in India reporting sexual violence to the police at a paltry one percent. In the US, according to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 32 out of every 100 rapes get reported. In the UK, the figure according to one charity, is 20%.
Statistics, even when bandied about by Nobel Laureates, can be deceptive.
2) That India has had a woman Prime Minister 4 decades ago.
How is this anything other than a fact of deceptive symbolism? We are a nation that has been unable to pass the Women's Reservation Bill for 18 long years. We are a nation where women have only 11% representation in Parliament. We are a nation with an abysmal 3% women holding top positions in BSE 500 firms. The comparative figure in Europe and America is 10% and 14% respectively.
Women in both Indian politics and business are often dynasts or proxies. Dutt would know that.
3) That we don't have conversations about abortions
Could it be because we simply kill the foetuses anyway, no questions asked? Estimates are that between eight to twelve million girls have been victims of Indian patriarchy in the last three decades. That's a genocide of mammoth proportions and a continuing one, with probably more girls being killed in Dutt's own backyard than anywhere else. Affluent South Delhi incidentally tops the charts when it comes to female infanticide.
Dutt started off the 20 odd minute debate in New York with a disclaimer that she wasn't a defensive Indian. But progressively through the course of it, she sounded like someone who wanted to depict a less scathing portraiture of her country than was sought to be presented globally. So much so that it had co-panelist Leslee Udwin, the maker of India's Daughter' remark 'you cannot take care of your shame and let that trump saving your women'.
Sadly, it did seem very much like misplaced national pride inhibited the avowed feminist in Dutt from calling a spade a spade. Pitifully it might also precisely be the reason why the horrendous mob online that usually attack her for her unpandering views, found themselves to be in agreement with their daily trolling target.
That if nothing else, is reason enough to reconsider your position Barkha! I wouldn't trust my judgment if it began echoing with the voices of unreason on social media.
Little girls bear the brunt in #India's vicious cycle of malnutrition. Half are stunted #gendergap http://reut.rs/1N5dPEz via @ReutersIndia
Despite India's economic boom over the last two decades, 46 percent of its children under five are underweight, 48 percent are stunted and 25 percent are wasted, according to the latest government figures.
Child malnutrition is an underlying cause of death for 3 million children annually across the world - nearly half of all child deaths - with most dying from preventable illnesses like diarrhoea due to weak immune systems, according to the United Nations Children's Fund.
Those lucky enough to survive, grow up without enough energy, protein, vitamins and minerals, causing their brains and bodies to be stunted which means they cannot fulfill their physical, academic or economic potential.
The problem of malnutrition starts well before birth in countries such as India, where there are high rates of child marriage, despite the age-old practice being illegal.
About 47 percent of women aged between 20 and 24 were married before the age of 18 in India, according to the latest government figures.
The custom hampers efforts to improve women's status, as it cuts across every part of a girl's development and creates a vicious cycle of malnutrition, poor health and ignorance, gender experts say.
A child bride is more likely to drop out of school and have serious complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Her children are more likely to be underweight and may be lucky to survive beyond the age of five.
Here's an interesting interview of Sujit Saraf of Naatak.org with KQED's Michael Krasny on treatment of Hindu widows, obsession with white complexion and high rates of rape and crime against women in India:
Since 1995, Naatak has been staging plays in the South Bay. The theater company identifies itself as the "largest Indian theater in the U.S." Its latest musical production, "Vrindavan," takes a closer look at the politics and social ills behind the city of Vrindavan, where widows are sent to live after their husbands die. We talk to playwright and artistic director Sujit Saraf about the new production and the company's larger artistic role in Silicon Valley. We'll also talk to KQED senior arts editor Chloe Veltman about what to watch for this fall arts season.
Host: Michael Krasny
Sujit Saraf, novelist, playwright and director of Naatak, a theater and film company in Santa Clara
Chloe Veltman, senior arts editor for KQED
US Stars push #India's Daughter, shocking documentary of #Delhi gang rape & murder of Jyoti Singh, into awards race http://gu.com/p/4dh93/stw
Banned by the Indian authorities, Leslee Udwin’s harrowing documentary India’s Daughter has been endorsed by some of Hollywood’s biggest names before its US release on Friday and is tipped for Oscars success.
India's Daughter review – this film does what the politicians should be doing
This documentary, which focuses on the assault of Jyoti Singh on a bus in Delhi in 2012, may not contain much that will surprise Indians, but its determination to shed light on the country’s rape crisis should inspire change
Udwin’s film centres on the gang rape and murder of 23-year-old Jyoti Singh, which sparked protests across India and caused worldwide outrage. The hour-long documentary features interviews with Singh’s bereaved parents, as well as a number of the accused rapists and their families. Four of the six men charged with sexual assault and murder have been sentenced to death by the Delhi high court.
Last week, Meryl Streep introduced India’s Daughter at a New York event, proclaiming she was on the campaign to get Udwin’s film nominated for a best documentary Oscar. “When I first saw [the film] I couldn’t speak afterwards,” Streep said.
Along with Freida Pinto, Streep was also present at the film’s US premiere in March, a week after the film was screened by the BBC in Britain.
On Tuesday in Los Angeles at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills, Sean Penn also threw his support behind the film.
Introducing India’s Daughter, Penn said that the film is by no means pleasant to watch, but vital to experience. “I was never sure that films are important – until last week,” he said.
Comparing Udwin’s film to an MRI, Penn added: “It made me ponder manhood. It reminded me of a trip I took with my children many years ago to Tanzania. I remember saying to our guide how extraordinary it was to see a culture last the way it had been for a thousand years. And the guide said to me: ‘Don’t wish the static upon anyone. It will kill them.’”
During a post-screening discussion moderated by educationalist Ken Robinson, Udwin thanked Streep and Penn for their work to promote the film, but stressed that the support she has received in India is more meaningful. A photo showing a rape protestor holding a placard that read “Thank You Leslee” especially moved her, she said.
India’s Daughter: ‘I made a film on rape in India. Men’s brutal attitudes truly shocked me’
The documentary was to have initially aired on an Indian television station during International Women’s Day in March, but a court order halted the broadcast. According to Indian authorities, it was done in the interest of maintaining public order.
The film is still banned from playing in India, but after it aired on BBC earlier in the year, it went viral on the internet, attracting a huge audience in India.
Addressing the ban, Udwin said: “I think it’s fair to say that any country that thinks it can ban a film in the digital age should see a psychiatrist.”
She added, however, that she pays a company to try and keep India’s Daughter from being shared illegally on the internet: “I am a law-abiding human being and the film is banned in India, where I have been threatened by prosecution. And frankly, I love India and I want to go back there.”
#India's #Maharashtra temple ‘purifies’ #Hindu diety after a woman's worship "desecrates" it - #Modi #BJP #gendergap http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/article7930551.ece …
A Lord Shani temple in Ahmadnagar district of Maharashtra performed a ‘purification puja’ on Sunday after a young woman offered worship to the idol placed on a platform from where women are traditionally barred.
Authorities at the Shani Shingnapur temple also suspended seven workers for “negligence” while one trustee resigned taking moral responsibility.
The incident took place on Saturday afternoon when the woman, whose identity is unknown, caught security personnel unawares and climbed the platform to perform puja. According to the temple authorities, it all happened within 30 seconds. A few devotees confronted her after the incident but eventually let her go.
“Women have been barred from climbing the platform for hundreds of years. This act was against the rituals that have been going on for years,” said Sayaram Bankar, a temple trustee, justifying the purification ceremony.
Priests bathed the idol with oil and milk, while all shops in the vicinity remained closed till the ceremony was over.
Mr. Bankar said the woman was let off unharmed. “We do not know who she is. She was confronted and let go. She was not attacked or abused,” he said. Mr. Bankar will resign on Monday, bowing to demands from the Ahmadnagar gramsabha.
Practice prevalent in Maharashtra
The Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmadnagar district of Maharashtra attracts thousands of devotees daily. Worshippers of the famous Sai Baba temple in Shirdi make it a point to visit the Shani Shingnapur temple, also.
The practice of barring women from the inner sanctum of religious places is prevalent in some of Maharashtra’s most revered shrines, among them the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai. The dargah’s trust has cited menstruation as one of the reasons for not allowing women into the ‘mazaar.’
In response to a public interest litigation petition filed by activists Noorjehan Niaz and Zakia Soman of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, the trust said many religions impose restrictions on women owing to menstruation, perceived as “unclean or embarrassing.” “A woman can at any time have menstrual periods,” the trust said in its affidavit earlier this year.
Many organisations have condemned the Shani Shingnapur temple’s action. “Purifying the temple is an act that has to be condemned. It’s a discrimination against women. At a time when young men and women are coming together with progressive ideas, such actions only take society backwards,” said Ranjana Gavande of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti.
Widows in #India: My children threw me out of the house. #Vrindavan #Hindu @AJENews http://aje.io/9l5k
Vrindavan, India - Self-immolation on a husband's pyre may have been banned in India, but life for many widows in India is still disheartening as they are shunned by their communities and abandoned by their families.
"I used to wash dishes and clothes in people's house to earn money, but the moment they heard that I am a widow, I was thrown out without any notice," said 85-year-old Manu Ghosh, living in Vrindavan, a city in the Northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Vrindavan is home to more than 20,000 widows, and over the years, many shelters for widows run by the government, private enterprises and NGOs have mushroomed in the city. The city, which is considered holy by Hindus, has become known as the 'City of Widows'.
"I had to sleep on the street as even my family abandoned me after my husband's death. I was married off to him when I was 11 years old and he was 40.
"My daughter died of malnutrition as I could not give her food since nobody wanted to help a widow.
"After her death, I decided to come to Vrindavan. A woman should die before her husband's death so that she doesn't have to live through hell like this," Gosh says.
The women often live in acute poverty and are ostracised by society due to various superstitions - even the shadow of a widow can wreak havoc and bring bad luck, people believe. Lack of education and any source of income forces them to beg on streets and many turn to prostitution for survival.
"My children threw me out of the house after my husband died," says Manuka Dasi. "I try to earn money by singing devotional songs in temple and manage to get one meal for the day. I am just waiting to die so that I can be out of this life of misery."
79% of women in #India faced public harassment. #misogyny http://toi.in/04JmDa via @timesofindia
Nearly four of five women (79%) in India have experienced some form of harassment or violence in public and a third groped or touched in public (39%), according to a ActionAid UK report released on Friday on occasion of the International Safe Cities for Women Day.
India is third among four countries surveyed which includes UK, Thailand and Brazil. The YouGov poll, which surveyed 2,500 women aged 16 and over in major cities across India, Brazil, Thailand and the UK, found that in India 84% of the women who experienced harassment were in the age group of 25-35 years, 82% of them were full time workers and 68% students.
"Shockingly, 89% of women in Brazil, 86% in Thailand and 75% in the UK have faced harassment or violence on the streets. The research highlighted that across the four countries, women in the lowest social economic groups most likely to experience violence or harassment in cities,'' the report said.
Over a third of women (39%) in India have been groped or touched in public, compared with 41% of women in Brazil, 44% in Thailand and 23% in the UK.
The research found that more women in the UK (43%), Brazil (70%) and Thailand (62%) felt at risk on the streets, whereas in India women felt more at risk on public transport (65%). ActionAid India director (programmes and policy) Sehjo Singh said, "The fear of harassment and violence has a crippling effect on women's abilities, and in itself it is an attack on women's rights."
BBC News - #India abortion: Police find 19 #female foetuses. #gender #Genocide
Police in the western Indian state of Maharashtra have found 19 aborted female foetuses near a hospital.
Senior police officials in Sangli district said the remains were "buried with the intention of disposing them".
The police told the BBC that they found the foetuses while they were investigating the death of a woman who had undergone an illegal abortion.
Activists say the incident proves yet again that female foeticide is rampant in India despite awareness campaigns.
The police said that the woman had died in a "botched abortion", and they were looking for the foetus near a local hospital when they made the grisly discovery.
"It appears to be an abortion racket. We have arrested the husband of the woman, and have launched a manhunt for the doctor who has gone missing," Dattatray Shinde, superintendent of police, told the BBC.
Similar cases have come to light in the past.
Eight female foetuses were found in 2012 in a plastic bag near a lake in Indore city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
In June 2009, 15 female foetuses were found in drains in Maharashtra's Beed district.
Dr Ganesh Rakh, who campaigns to save the female child and appeared in the BBC's Unsung Indians series, said the recent case proves that illegal sex determination and abortion was still practised in India.
"This is horrifying. Female foeticide is happening at the scale of a genocide in India. This case proves that people still prefer boys and girls are still unwanted," he said.
"I think abortions were happening on a large scale in Sangli. Once the doctor is arrested, I fear we will find more aborted female foetuses."
Sex-selective abortion and sex-determination tests are illegal in India, where there is a widespread social preference for boys.
A health journal estimates #India underreported almost 15 million #abortions in a year. #femalegenocide #savegirlchild https://qz.com/1153722 via @qzindia
Abortion is a lot more common in India than government data suggests.
A study published this week (pdf) in The Lancet Global Health journal estimates that 15.6 million abortions occurred in the country in 2015, significantly higher than the 701,415 recorded by the ministry of health and family welfare for 2014-2015. Moreover, a staggering 78% (12.3 million) of these abortions were undertaken outside of health facilities, suggesting that Indian women are taking the procedure into their own hands.
The study was conducted by a team of authors from the Guttmacher Institute in New York, the International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai, and the Population Council, New York.
To estimate the national abortion incidence, they used data mostly from the 2015 Health Facilities Survey of six Indian states—Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh—NGO clinics, and abortion pill sales and distribution.
The authors say that India’s national surveys and official statistics have so far offered an incomplete picture as they don’t take into account abortions by private-sector doctors who don’t work at registered facilities or abortion services provided by professionals of alternative medicine, notably Ayurveda, Unani, and Homeopathy. The government data also excludes untrained providers of abortions and abortion pills that don’t require prescriptions. These pills have become increasingly available in pharmacies from the early 2000s.
“Most abortions are happening without prescriptions and outside of facilities via chemists and informal vendors, which suggests the need to improve facility-based services,” the authors write. While abortion pills can be effective and safe when administered correctly, they say it is unclear if Indian women are getting the right information and using them properly.
In conservative India, where talking about sex remains a taboo, previous studies have shown that the use of contraceptives has been declining. More people are turning to morning-after pills and abortions despite the potential health risks. While the study was unable to determine the reasons for the high rate of abortions in India, they accounted for one-third of the pregnancies in 2015. And almost half of the pregnancies that year were unintended, the authors say.
#India’s Shame. World's largest democracy is also its most dangerous for #women. #Misogyny in India is not a modern phenomenon. Thousands of women burned to death every year. Millions of female fetuses aborted. #Modi #Asifa #rape #sati #BrideBurning https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/india-s-shame-5b7lzdg60
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