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Posts Tagged ‘skewed sex ratio’

I agree that it’s the mindset of the people that must change. Banning sex determination ultrasounds will in all likelihood increase the incidence of female infanticide. However, doctors who continue to perform them need to be charged.

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Haryana’s lonely bachelors

BALJEET SINGH dandles his baby daughter on his knee, a picture of contented fatherhood. Last year the 37-year-old Hindu truck driver became the envy of his friends when he married a 16-year-old Muslim from Assam, in India’s north-east. The unorthodox marriage suited both. Mr Singh’s romantic life had become a casualty of India’s preference for boy babies, which in his state, Haryana, has led to the most skewed sex ratio in India: 116 to 100, according to the 2001 census, compared with a national average of 108. By the age of 30, says Mr Singh, he had given up hope of finding a girl from his own village, Nandgaon, or from his state. His wife, Sona Khatum, comes from an impoverished family in one of India’s poorest states, though village rumour mutters that she may be an illegal migrant from Bangladesh. Mr Singh paid handsomely. “Here, I’ve always been made comfortable,” she says shyly, from beneath her veil.

Ms Khatum is one of an increasing number of brides imported into Haryana, one of India’s richest states. The Red Cross Society of India, which campaigns against gendercide in the country, reckons that at least 100 brides have been brought into Bhiwani, one of Haryana’s 21 districts. Nandgaon, a village of some 1,700 people, most of them farmers, is a microcosm of bachelor angst. The Red Cross reckons that at least 100 bachelors have passed the age range thought ideal for marriage, which is 20 to 25. At least five have married women from other states, and “lots of my friends ask me, how can I find one?” says Mr Singh.

Besides ushering in a new tolerance of outsiders, the bride shortage has changed social mores in other ways. Villagers say that no girl may marry into a neighbouring village until her in-laws promise to provide a girl in return. They also say that girls’ parents are no longer expected to pay big dowries; instead, the onus is on young men to provide well for their future brides.

Meanwhile, the greying bachelors pine on. “I still want a wife,” says Babulal Yadav, a 50-year-old farmer. “I’m used to being alone. But I want a son.”

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In India, apparently, not much. According to a recent article in the Times of India, her worth is a tenth of the price of a buffalo in the northern state of Punjab where women are growing scarce due to rampant female foeticide.

FATEHGARH SAHIB: It is the matter of great shame that in Punjab a woman can be ‘purchased’ merely for Rs 3,000 while a buffalo is sold for Rs 30,000, said Punjab health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawala. She was addressing a seminar ‘Doctors for Daughters’ organized here on Sunday by the Punjab Chapter of Indian Medical Council. She said after 1947, the Punjabis had killed more daughters than the number of people killed during the partition.

Punjab health secretary Tilak Raj Sarangal said the situation was so grim that it was like social emergency which had started showing grim effects on the society. He said this situation had given rise to the concept of ‘Modern Daropadi’, where brothers were sharing one wife in a given household.

full story:

‘Buying’ woman is easier than buffalo

History of Bias from Hindustan Times November 19, 2007 edition
punjab.jpg

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Congress President Sonia Gandhi has shot down Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Renuka Chowdhury’s plan to celebrate November 9 as ‘national girl child day’. Reason: November 9 is Sonia Gandhi’s birthday.

In a bid to highlight the issues concerning the girl child, like female feticide, higher malnourishment among them and discrimination, the WCD Ministry proposed to celebrate November 9 as ‘girl child day’.

Why doesn’t Sonia want national girl child day to fall on her birthday? Wouldn’t the leader of a country with a problem of this magnitude feel honored to share this day with the girls of India? Or does she feel it would bring her undue attention on an issue that she may not be doing enough about? Perhaps Ms. Gandhi was burdened with the idea that every year while enjoying her special day she would be reminded that many girls in India never celebrate a birthday.

At this year’s Women’s Day celebrations, Ms. Gandhi said:

…the Constitution entitled women to equal opportunities and rights, but in some parts of the land the rate of female foeticide was high and the gender ratio terribly skewed. “Girls are not being sent to school in many places and women face prejudice and discrimination at the workplace,” she said. These issues should get focus at the , she said.

It appears from the above statement, that she recognizes the importance of working on these issues, but is she giving it more than lip service?

India’s newly elected first woman President Pratibha Patil has also promised to fight for the rights of women and an end to the widespread practice of aborting female fetuses when she was sworn into office in July.

In her speech, Patil promised to use her influence to focus on ‘India’s stubborn list of social ills’.

“We must banish malnutrition, social evils, infant mortality and female feticide,” said Patil, who was dressed in a white sari with a green border. “We must fight poverty, ignorance and disease.”

India loses an average of 7,000 girls every day through abortions because of a traditional preference for sons, according to a UN Children’s Fund report last year.

Abortions have also resulted in a severely skewed gender ratio in India, where there are only 927 females for every 1,000 males — far lower than the worldwide average of 1,050 females.

“I am deeply committed to the cause of education… the empowerment of women is particularly important to me,” Patil added in the speech to parliament.

Both Gandhi and Patil are vowing to erradicate dowry-related violence and female foeticide, and other crimes against women. The daughters of India are counting on them to take action on their promises.

News sources:
Birthday pangs for national girl child day
Sonia appeals for greater focus on women’s issues
India’s First Woman President Vows Fight for Women, Unborn Girls

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A few years ago I saw the film Matrubhoomi: A Nation Without Women. A deeply disturbing Indian film said to be futuristic in nature, from the sound of the attached article, it looks like the future has arrived. Girls are becoming an endangered gender in India. While dowry is still demanded in most marriages, things are changing in some parts of India where there are not enough women of marrying age. The result? Girls are being bought, sold, kidnapped, and trafficked. Unbelievably,“…even local elections have candidates promising brides in return for votes.”

An excerpt from the November 11th edition of Hindustan Times:

girls_gone1.jpg

Where have all the girls gone?

In the prosperous districts of Haryana and Punjab — where son preference has resulted in a skewed sex ratio — girls from economically weaker backgrounds in Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal are being openly bought in droves for ‘marriages’ that are more often than not without the consent of the girl. The legal status of such wedlock, of course, remains questionable. According to data compiled by Shaktivahini, a Faridabad-based NGO that takes up anti-trafficking issues, there are up to 50,000 paros in Haryana alone, including a huge proportion of minors. Faced with a crisis, even local elections have candidates promising brides in return for votes.

Census 2001 shows that the child sex ratio in Haryana and Punjab stands at 820 and 793 per 1,000 boys respectively. But according to the latest health survey by the Punjab government, villages like Sansarwal in Patiala have touched an alarming 438 girls per 1,000 boys.

Ergo, girls are fast turning into a vanishing tribe. A recent United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report warns that female deficit in the marriageable age (20-49) is set to touch 25 million by the year 2030.

The impact, however, is already being felt here. Says Dr Madhav Mohan Godbole, the director of Balgrah, a rehabilitation centre in Rai, Sonepat, “Villagers come to us and plead for brides. They say if we can’t fix them up, they will be forced to buy girls.” Faced with a crisis, even local elections have candidates promising brides in return for votes. Ram Prasad of Seoti village in Sonepat, concedes, “frequent trips are being made from all over Haryana to hunt for girls in Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand and even Maharashtra.”

In a typical ‘buying’ scenario, someone with ‘contacts’ in source states facilitates such arrangements in return for kharcha-paani, explains Rishikant of Shativahini. The ‘going rate’ ranges from Rs 6,000 –10,000, depending on the age and virginity. Forced by poverty, many a time the paros also have to ‘accept’ polyandry.

Full story

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