Saturday, February 21, 2009

The missing girl child....

Meet Chutki.....go here to see her playing to her heart's content.
She will steal your heart.....I guarantee you that.....
Just don't steal her life......and all that is rightfully hers...

Another Chutki could have been someone's daughter....
But she was killed before she was even born...

This Chutki too,is a product of someone's imagination,an animation on the computer ,nothing more...
For,she too ,battles to come into this world....
She is fighting to be born...
To be someone's daughter..
A family that will not just love her but make her feel cherished too.... much has been written about them...
Here in India,daughters ,those of us who were lucky enough to be born, are fighting a battle so that daughters continue to be born in the years to come..

In this land, where women have been blessed since ages with ''सौ पुत्रवती भव ''(May you be blessed with a hundred sons) ......the battle ..nay, the war becomes even tougher..

But it is not just about the girls who are being killed even as we speak,still in the womb,not allowed even a glimpse of this world.Not even a breath.

It is also about those girls who are killed immediately after they are born.Female infanticide they call it.
If ,however ,the girl is lucky enough to escape these two hells,then she has more lying in wait for her.'
Malnutrition,a bias towards her, and preferential treatment for her brothers,'dowry death 'awaits her after she gets married.
These are the missing women of India.

This is the tale of a society so grotesque,one that worships millions of goddesses everyday and yet murders its daughters without even a qualm.

Human populations in most countries have a natural gender ratio of about a 100 men to 105 women.In 1986, based on an average expected ratio for third world countries (which was slightly reduced from that for developed countries), the Nobel Laureate, Dr. Amartya Sen, calculated that approximately 37 million women were “missing” from India. These were women who should have been part of the population but could not be accounted for.

The term “missing,” first used by Dr. Sen actually means eliminated.

The elimination however continued, even escalated. Now, 22 years later, it is estimated about 50 Million Women have been systematically purged from India’s population, targeted only because they were female. This is perhaps what makes it one of the worst genocides in human history. And it is silent. And ongoing. The causes of this elimination are primarily female foeticide, female infanticide and dowry murders.
because to call them simply deaths absolves the 'murderers' of all blame.
All the three links above are videos.
Information courtesy-

Click here to sign the petition.

According to the UNFPA, some startling and shocking facts have come to light.

-A national decline from 945 to 927 in the number of girls per 1,000 boys aged 0-6 between 1991 and 2001.
-A "grave" situation in states like Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, where the ratio has “drastically declined” to fewer than 800 girls for every 1,000 boys.
-A low child sex ratio in certain districts, including the South West District of Delhi, which are "amongst the most prosperous in the country".
-Infact , a most disturbing fact has come to light.It has been found that even with increasing education, the practice of female foeticide has increased rather than decreased.Clearly education on its own is not of much use if it is also not followed by a change in mindsets.

The sex ratio in India is one of the most pathetic ones in the world.

Click on the picture to enlarge it

The technique of ultrasound was developed so as to be able to monitor the health of the foetus.But in India,the technique started being used more and more ,for determining the sex of the foetus.

-Indian laws prohibit sex selection.Prenatal determination of sex through ultrasound is also illegal in India. These laws are instituted to combat the prevalent practice of sex-selective abortion
-In India, the payment of a dowry was prohibited in 1961 under Indian civil law and subsequently by Sections 304B and 498a of the Indian Penal Code were enacted to make it easier for the wife to seek redress from potential harassment by the husband's family.

Why then do we see this skewed sex ratio today?
Lets look at the statistics.
71000 children are born in India everyday.Out of these,only 31000 are girls.
In a recent survey,it was found that urban areas reported more cases of female foeticide than rural ones.

In Punjab ,the number of eligible females is so low that men have no one left to marry.
They now have to head towards the states of Kerala and Tamilnadu to look for brides.
In Madhya pradesh, the ratio of females per 1000 males stands at 815,in Rajasthan it is 859,in Himachal Pradesh it is 789,in Haryana it stands at 780.

And what of our religious texts?What do they say on the matter?
Manusmriti states clearly,''She is a true wife who has borne a son.”
Atharva Veda is even more categorical when it states,“The birth of a girl grant elsewhere, here grant a son.”
''Even dharamputra, the Hindu practice of lighting a parent's funeral pyre, requires that rite to be initiated by a son in order for that parent to ascend to heaven. ''
''Hindu personal law is the key driving factor for son preference as it privileges Hindu males with economic, spiritual, political, and social advantages not equally accorded to Hindu females.''
''Although Hindu law officially provides daughters with equal access to property under the Hindu Succession Act of 1956, that law is easily superceded by several edicts of Hindu religious law. ''
''For example, a woman's access to property is dependent on her father's consent, whereas all Hindu sons have indisputable access to family property. Hindu law also notes that married women have absolutely no rights to reside on family property after marriage.
Information Courtesy

A son is looked up to as a 'protector' of his parents in their old age.
Whereas a daughter is looked upon as a burden,as someone who needs to be protected.
Sons are seen as someone who will bring money and riches,while daughters are looked at as those who will drain the family resources in the form of 'dowry',yet another ugly and hideous practice prevalent in India.
In other words ,daughters are seen as a liability.

Is it any wonder then that this mindset is so deeply ingrained in India and its people since generations?

Despite having a law against dowry in place,the number of dowry deaths are increasing day by day.It is estimated that a dowry death occurs in India every 93 minutes.

Of what use are such laws ,if they are not enforced with complete 'State will' ?
Laws in India have just remained on paper,mere words that seek to make a mockery of the very objectives of the Constitution of India.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), particularly the crux of Article 1 states that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

But that equality is missing in India.
It is this wish for sons that has resulted in this severely skewed sex ration that we see in India today.
In an independent paper,the Centre for advocacy and research has warned of the consequences that this increasing female foeticide will lead to.
It warns that there will be more violent attacks on women.Women will be forced to be the wife of more than one man.

In a country ,where the woman looks towards the man for making every little decision in her life,where she has no rights over her own body,where she is constantly berated, even divorced or worse burnt ,all because she cannot produce a heir, a 'waaris' to carry the 'khaandaan' it any wonder that she wishes for a son?
In a country, which is pre dominantly patriarchal in nature,women have always been treated as second class citizens.Women have very little or no say in matters that affect them.

A country, where feminism has not even been understood properly in all its connotations let alone be applied...and already it has been shunned...discarded like so much garbage.
Women are breaking new barriers everyday.Reaching yet new milestones.Flying higher than ever before.
Those who have been fortunate enough to be born that is.

pic courtesy

They will fight for all that is ours.....
They will heal...
They will teach new generations.....
They will be carers,nurturers,doctors,lawyers,soldiers,professors....
They will keep this world safe for those not yet born....

But first, just let them be born.....

In a country ,where blessings for sons have been present since ages and where none exist for daughters,it is time that we made some...
So,next time gather up your courage,challenge some old ,deeply entrenched dogmas and give a blessing from your heart...
''सौ पुत्रीवती भव ''
''May you be blessed with a hundred daughters''

Believe me,no one will be as grateful as the one for whom you have spoken...

Imagine a world without the girl child....or are we already close to making this a horrendous reality?

Female Foeticide:-Consequences:A video

Look at them ....'laadli'make them feel it too.. Why wouldn't one want them..Don't they steal your heart ever so stealthily?

Join hands ...we need all the hearts to think as one more than ever before....

1. Matrubhoomi : a nation without women
Director: Manish Jha
May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons: A Journey Among the Women of India
-Elisabeth Bummiler

For critique of the book ,
go here
Daughters of India : Art and Identity -Stephen P. Hyler(Take a peek into the lives of Indian women across different cultures,different regions)
3. Anees Jung-. Unveiling India: A Woman's Journey.
4.'Bride Burning' Alive and Well in India: Police Say Every Two Hours a Woman Is Killed Over Dowry,'-Gayle Young
5.Reproductive and Sexual Rights: A Feminist Perspective,” - Sonia and Rosalind Petchesky Correa

Chutki's picture courtesy

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Voices, Action, Focus!

With a key issue, of Gender Equality, uppermost in our minds, we take stock of what is happening as voices gather to act, and focus, on stressing upon Constitutional Rights, especially for Freedom and Equality.

With inputs from different virtual spaces, real issues are being faced, challenges are being taken up, and Valentine's Day is a test of fire, for making a difference here, for women, and indeed for men. We aren't going to take it anymore. Not from anyone who presumes to dictate to the Indian population what culture, values and morality mean.

Here is what Indyeah is involved in. Joining a protest march in Delhi, on 14th February. Read more on it here, at Namrata's blog, Stand Up To Moral Policing.

Indian Homemaker, in has plans for all of us, wherever it be. And it's a pretty pink one! You can read about it on the sidebar of her blog.

And Solilo, though far away in the US, is protesting and adding her voice for Freedom and Equality in her own way, through this wonderful post "Here a Pink, there a drink, everywhere a Pink-Drink"!

Take a look at this, the much spoken about "Pink Chaddi Campaign", a novel way to ensure a non violent, humourous and novel way to protest and change a tyrant's mind, and heart!

Here is our team wishing all of these movements, engaged in the sole pursuit of regaining self esteem and dignity of humanity, all success!

Jai Ho, for a sensible, balanced and equal tomorrow!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Why Gender Equality?

The most obvious reason for fighting inequality is it is unjust and wrong. It isn't right to discriminate against half the population of the world.
It's worse that a good percent of this half of the world's population accepts this oppression as their fate. It's the only way they have known.
The conditioning using religion, mythology, social and cultural history and a way of life work together to convince women that it's most un-womanly to demand, or expect or even accept equality.

Women are afraid to say, or even to consider themselves Feminists.

Ask us, do we believe in equal pay for equal work? Yes, who wouldn't?
Is it a good idea for women to have a choice in who we marry?
What careers we choose?
How we dress?
How many children we have or if do not have any kids at all?
Do we think women should have property rights?
Did we mind when we saw our brothers being given preferential treatment? Yes.

But women aren't the only ones who are discriminated against. Discrimination against women also becomes a discrimination against our daughters. And indirectly against our sons also.

And we promote inequality when we tell our daughters to 'Behave like girls!'. Worst possible way women can harm themselves is of course by not letting our daughters be born!

I have seen women feeling proud of having given birth to a boy and ashamed of having a daughter. Can we humiliate ourselves more?

We could begin right there. We can make sure we take pride in our baby girls. Think seriously minus all the conditioning - aren't they such a delight?

When we bless someone and wish them many sons, don't promote such biases. Change it to many children ...
When we fast for your sons' long lives, We must sure instead to fast for all your children.
When we are concerned about our daughter's safety if she wishes to go out late in the evening, don't let us make her feel it's her fault, let's tell her the world is bad, caution her, of course, but don't EVER let her think she is weak. The weakness is first and foremost in the mind. Girls raised to be bold grow up into bold citizens.

If we bully her into submission she will be abused. That's how the world is. We are strong and we are respected. We grovel and we are kicked. Let her get used to her freedom and raise her to have an opinion, let her know she counts. We'll see her maintaining these basic standards all her life.

A secure and confident girl will be neither aggressive nor submissive. Help her grow into a balanced adult. We will also be doing your sons a favour. He will grow up respecting us , not just his sister. Because boys are not fools, when we favour them they can see the injustice of it, and even if they enjoy the perks they lose respect ...

They will understand that being a feminist does not mean you hate men, it just means you hate injustice. And since they have seen equality at home, they will know empowering women does not mean dis-empowering men.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

This is Us

Not We, not They, but US!

Why this? You ask.

This day, I write to speak, of the Quintessential Indian Woman, who is as timeless, and endless as the vastness of the breadth of experience of Life in this country.

This Quintessential Woman of yester-years had blossomed in days of yore, when women were given the due respect, in times when Humanity thrived, on basic values of self esteem and courtesy. Then forward to the regressive days, she thrived, a beautiful flower that adorns a cactus, forever in thorns, it seemed. She, today, is wondering if she is going to be plucked when she is in her prime to just be an ornament, and not bring to fruition all her dreams of living just as much herself, being who she always wanted to be, and not an object of conformity of others' ignoble ideals, customs and traditions. She too is human! How easily the world forgets this!!

In a society,where men are always treated as ‘individuals’, as those who have different choices,different temperaments, and where women are treated as a monolithic community who are all supposed to have similar choices, similar temperaments, similar tastes, it is important to make everyone realize how wrong that perception is.

If two women make two different choices on one single issue,it is automatically assumed that one of them has to be wrong.There are no in-betweens for Indian women.

Too often the voices of women in India are not heard and if they are at times, then the voices are conveniently ignored.

Most importantly, our voices are not heard on issues which affect us directly.

So here in this space I hope to bring to life that voice, along with others who want to make that difference. By just sharing of themselves, their views, their perspectives, and their wishes, dreams and aspirations for Her. For Me. For Us. To make a difference, in our own small way.

May I introduce them?

Indian Homemaker
, whom many of you have read, and learned from, the courage of conviction and refusal to bow down to injustice!

Solilo, whose balanced and heartwarming writing has touched so many of us. And incidentally she's is the gifted artist behind the banner, and the advisor on Art Work:)

Indyeah, the fiery and passionate young teacher/learner, who opens our eyes and and our sensitivity to so very much of our Heritage, our Memories, and jogs the sense of responsibility we need to discover and work with.

Usha Pisharody, a quixotic rambler she calls herself, led by the need to do what she can, to raise her voice, to hold hands to make the world a safer place, especially for Women and Children!

This is a venture, prompted by an impulse that suddenly took hold of us, and we met in the Indian Woman!

We look forward to your views, perspectives and notions!

Indian Woman :)