RIGHTS ISSUES AND WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN INDIA – FEMALE FOETICIDE AND INFANTICIDE

Female Foeticide and Infanticide

Last year, the Indian government said the country had nearly 3 million girls less (‘missing’) in 2011 (75.84 million) than their count in 2001 (78.83 million).

In a country, facing the acute crisis of a skewed sex ratio, female foeticide and female infanticide continue shamelessly.

The situation has worsened to this level that there are not enough girls to wed the boys of this patriarchal system and women are being trafficked to continue families in culturally backward states like Haryana or Rajasthan where women are treated like mere objects, tools to satisfy carnal pleasures, to carry out house chores and to give birth to the sons (daughters have no place).

A write-up of UNICEF India website says: Eligible Jat boys from Haryana travel 3,000 km across the country to find themselves a bride. With increasingly fewer girls in Haryana, they are seeking brides from as far away as Kerala as the only way to change their single status.

The write-up further says: Decades of sex determination tests and female foeticide that has acquired genocide proportions are finally catching up with states in India.

And it is not just about female foeticide or aborting the female foetus. It is also largely about female infanticide, killing the girl child before one year of age.

Naturally, differently laws have been put in place to prevent foetal sex identification, foeticide and female infanticide.

And as expected, these laws have failed, naturally, as is with laws on many other intrinsic socially mandated patriarchal gender crimes like dowry (a major reason for female foeticide and infanticide in India) or witch-hunting.

Not just foeticide or infanticide figures, there is a whole bunch of statistically incriminating data set that tells us how insanely criminal we have been to the other half of the human population.

2011 Census sex ratio is 940, i.e., 940 girls per 1000 boys. Though it is a slight improvement from 933 of 2001, the child sex ratio saw a decline from 1991 to 2011, from 945 to 914.

Female foeticide and infanticide – 10 million female foeticides – one million infanticides of every 12 million baby born – a media report says.

The girl child population was around 16 per cent of the female population in 2001 that declined to 12.9 per cent by the Census 2011.

A BBC report quoting the medical journal the Lancet said in 2006: More than 10m female births in India may have been lost to abortion and sex selection in the past 20 years, according to medical research. Researchers in India and Canada for the Lancet journal said prenatal selection and selective abortion was causing the loss of 500,000 girls a year.

And the problem is not limited only to the culturally backward states like Haryana or Rajasthan or culturally-skewed states like Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra or Punjab, it has become a pan-India pandemic, a social menace that is corroding the fabric of the Indian social formation.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

ONE YEAR OF DECEMBER 16 GANGRAPE: UNDERCURRENTS REMAIN IN REALM OF GREY!

Though it was coloured in black and white, it was not black and white. One year after the December 16 gangrape in Delhi was a point to stop and look back on what all has changed.

Have there been changes? And when we talk about ‘changes’, what do we mean by ‘change’?

It was so brutal and animal that it stirred not India only, but pulled the attention of the global community.

The two weeks of protests that followed the December 16 horror slapped the Indian psyche, laid it threadbare, thrashed the Indian administration, made the world worried about women safety in India (their women as well as the Indian women) and thus gave India the tag of the rape capital of the world.

And if we see the developments leading to the ‘desired’ ‘changes’ in this context, we can say nothing ‘much’ has moved.

On paper, a stronger anti-rape law was put in place. But rape cases reported have doubled since the December 16 incident, if we talk of Delhi, the national Capital of India. True, it may be that the increased attention and a tougher anti-rape law have led to the higher reporting of such cases. But it also tells us about the uncomfortable truth about us, the central reason behind crime against women, a truth that we all know but do want to realize to work on.

The truth behind increased reporting of such cases tells us how deep the murk is. If an anti-rape law can result in over two-fold increase in reporting of the rape cases from Delhi alone, imagine the horror at the pan-India level where most of the cases are still not reported!

It is good more cases are being reported. It is bad the accompanying legal machinery is still not responding to it in a satisfactory way. Some special courts were made to handle rape cases only, six in Delhi, the Chief Justice of India had inaugurated. All are trailing with unimpressive outcomes.

Again, that is for Delhi only. Think of the problem at the pan-India level and link it with the flood of rape cases being reported from across the country and you would feel ‘nothing’ has changed.

It cannot, until the mindset changes. It cannot, until the male-dominated Indian psyche remains skewed.

We are a country of the men who still kill their five minor daughters in cold blood, shooting them in the head, to get rid of them, as happened last week in the Gaya district in Bihar where the father was the killer.

We are a country of the men who kill millions of girls even before they see the world. Last year, the Indian government said the country had nearly 3 million girls less (‘missing’) in 2011 (75.84 million) than their count in 2001 (78.83 million). In a country, facing the acute crisis of a skewed sex ratio, female foeticide and female infanticide continue shamelessly.

We are a country of the men who still brand women as witches to exploit them, to settle scores with them. We are a country of the men who still marry their daughters in an age when they can’t realize what marriage is. UNICEF statistics say 18 per cent of the Indian girls are married by the age of 15 and the share gets disturbingly higher with 47 per cent of the girls getting married by the age of 18. The October 2013 report published in the Times of India puts the number of child brides in India at 24 million out of the global count of 60 million.

We are a country of the men who still treat women as secondary, lesser counterparts professionally as well as socially. Dowry is social menace deeply rooted. Dowry murders still happen. Girls form the larger chunk of ‘forced’ illiterates and dropouts. Glass Ceiling is common.

How can there be a change of gravity until this borrowed mentality of male domination changes, a borrowed mentality anointed for ages?

One year after, and it was to be coloured in black and white, all across. But, the undercurrents remain in the realm of grey!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

RIGHTS ISSUES AND WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN INDIA – WITCH-HUNTING (DAYAN)

Witch-hunting (Dayans of India)

Witch-hunting, the erstwhile tool of medieval and early modern period of history is still existent in many places of India. The recorded cases talk of over thousands of women victims murdered in this decade only – in India of 21st Century.

And we don’t need any ‘ifs and buts of a rational thinking process’, to say that the cases not reported would certainly be multiple of it, given the kind of ‘prevalence belts’ this witch-hunting or ‘punishing the Dayan’ exists in. Dayan is the Indian term for witches.

Witch-hunting cases are commonly reported from states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal but we do come across victimization of women in the name of ‘witchcraft’ from other states, be it Uttar Pradesh or Kerala, representing two geographical extremes of India, or many other states in between or across, to support the claim.

Google is a wonderful tool. Do a simple Web-search with tags like ‘Dayan + India’ or ‘witch-hunting + India’ and you will come across pages and pages of results on victimization of women in the name of witch-hunting. And mind you, you can come across cases that happened just yesterday or the last week.

Victimization of women under the garb of punishing witchcraft is basically an easily available tool to the patriarchal mindset of the rural and semi-urban areas of many states in India. Though it is more virulent in the socioeconomically poorer segments of the social formations, well-to-do families are found it practicing as well.

The purpose is more or less similar in almost of the cases of witch-hunting as it is found on investigation – settling score, usurping property in the name of the victim, getting rid of a wife a man no longer wants to be with, efforts to discard a daughter-in-law a family wants to throw out – there are varied reasons – but all target women, causing them mental and physical torture.

And most of these women do not report. They cannot report. Being hounded by the family and the immediate society, they are not allowed to approach the police even if they are fortunate enough to have the police officials ready to act on such complaints of socially mandated crimes.

Their fate is more or less similar thus. Yes, the background only exacerbates the problem. Many have to suffer and live the life of outcasts. Many are forced to make compromises. Many die living such lives. Many are killed outrightly.

Yes, there is a law again, to contain and eliminate this socially mandated crime but it is failing again. The social humiliation and the subsequent personal assassination in the name of sanitizing a society from a Dayan’s presence continue.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

RIGHTS ISSUES AND WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN INDIA – CHILD BRIDES

Underage Marriages

Underage marriages are prevalent in many states of India. In some parts where it was thought to be effectively put down, the social blot is witnessing resurgence.

India is known as the child marriage capital of the world. On mining statistical analyses and news reports for information and data, we come across harrowing details.

An October report said India refused to sign the UN Human Rights Council led resolution on child marriages. Countries like Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Chad, Guatemala, Honduras and Yemen were among the 107 countries supporting the resolution. The report quoted these supporting countries as having high rates of child marriage.

The child marriages involve both the boys and the girls but no deep sociological understanding is required to arrive at the conclusion that not boys but girls are at the receiving end of such ill-intended practices of a brutal, archaic, patriarchal society that treats its women (and thus girls) as secondary, inferior counterparts.

UNICEF statistics say 18 per cent of the Indian girls are married by the age of 15 and the share gets disturbingly higher with 47 per cent of the girls getting married by the age of 18. The October 2013 report published in the Times of India puts the number of child brides in India at 24 million out of the global count of 60 million.

That is 40 per cent of the lot – India is statistically and thus justifiably the child bride capital of the world!

Marrying girls when they are not even able to understand themselves and then expecting from them to understand the needs of an entire family and act accordingly – it is inhuman, it is barbaric – but it is what is exactly happening.

There is a law to prevent child marriages, like there is one to stop dowry cases. Both are glaring example of nationalised social apathies. Both have been meek in checking the menace because the implementers are from among us only, the progenies of the brutal, archaic, patriarchal society, who refuse to budge.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

RIGHTS ISSUES AND WOMEN EMPOWERMENT IN INDIA – GLASS CEILING

Glass Ceiling

It is the major manifestation of gender discrimination in corporate establishments. Its most talked about aspect is the sexual harassment of women employees and the attempts to hush up the matter if the harassment comes to light.

Double standards are seen in motion just not in squeezing out carnal pleasures, a direct indicative of the widespread immorality in such work cultures, but are also seen in employment opportunities, in equity of wages and in workplace etiquette expected to be observed.

Tarun Tejpal’s case is a recent one, much talked about, burning example of such a work culture. And it is not just because of the men that the situation has become so discriminating. Sometimes, powerful corporate women, too, play a significant role as we saw the lame excuses and duplicitous attitude of Shoma Chaudhury in Tejpal and Tehelka sex scandal case.

Serious attempts are not being made to address the real issues in real terms. Instead, the emphasis is on easy and escapist measures like reducing the women headcount from the workforce. The practice is gaining serious acceptance in organizations with odd and 24/7 hours working conditions. Such outfits are either slowing or are not hiring women employees so as to avoid being liable for their security. Doing so is the breach and denial of the basic human rights of equal opportunity.

It is true we have many good names, the women achievers, to talk and write about who have created a space for them scaling the top of the corporate management leadership positions yet the real battle lies in bringing uniformity at every level of a workplace.

The Global Gender Gap Index 2012 by the World Economic Forum ranks India at 105th place. The survey was carried in 135 countries.

An observation by UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) says: India has a rich history of women in positions of power, yet the country ranks 129 out of 146 countries on the Gender Inequality Index, and women in India face barriers at all levels in areas such as food insecurity and education. (March 2012)

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/