Friday, December 23, 2011

Obliteration of girls in India - Gendercide Part I

As a follow-up to my previous blog Because I am a girl,  let us pause and focus on India and its well kept secret - female infanticide.

The Republic of India is located in South Asia and it is geographically the seventh largest country with the second highest population (1.2 billion) in the world.

Indira Gandhi
"India, is a country of paradoxes," says Dr. Marie-Mignon Mascarehans, founder of CREST, an Indian non-profit organization. She laments that even though the country has produced a Cambridge educated Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, 40-50 percent of rural women are illiterate.

What we hear about this country is that it is among the fastest growing economies in the world, with a 7.5% GDP growth rate. It is one of the G-20 major economies and one of the five members of the international political organization known as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

Yet in this upcoming nation nearly 50 million girls are missing from its population. The average ratio of boys to girls is 6 to1. Discrimination against girls begins before they are born simply because they are considered an economic liability to the family.

In India, the man is considered the bread winner in the family and the fact that a woman can play the same role is still very alien. So even among middle and upper class families, the girl child is considered of no value. Within the realm of religious dogma, in the event of the death of a parent, the spirit of the dead person will not move on to the next life until the son has lit the funeral fire.

Girl's value based on dowry
Dowry plays a significant role in the determining whether a girl lives or is killed during or after a pregnancy. The very survival of a woman in a matrimonial home is subject to how much dowry she is bringing in. Even her right to life revolves around the dowry.

These are the reasons why families chose not to have girls. Technology has made gender selection easier. There are ultra-sound centers all around India where the gender of a child is identified so that families can make the relevant decision to keep or get rid of a pregnancy. Sex-selection tests are done even by the elite and educated members of the community. Gender selection is illegal and considered a criminal offense in India but the government is complacent about enforcing the law.

Female infanticide is more common among those who can afford to get an ultra sound. The poor have to wait until the child is born and this makes it very difficult for the mother who is put under pressure by the family to kill her child. The husband and/or mother-in-law are known to kill their baby girl.

This annihilation of girls is causing a sex imbalance in the population. This will soon lead to a system of polyandry if this killings continue.

Women around the world need to rise up and speak against this atrocity. First Ladies of the world have a platform to move this agenda. The president of India is a woman (Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil) and the head of the ruling party in is a woman (Sonia Gandhi). Why are they not speaking to this issue? ARISE and ACT!


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