Archive for the ‘50 million missing’ Category

Man kills pregnant wife who refused to abort girl child

Even as we rue about the lowest ever child sex ratio of 914, revealed by the 2011 Census figures, we have dismally failed to bring about a change in the mindset of a section of the population which sees the girl child as a burden and ruthlessly resorts to indiscriminate violence against women.

In a shocking incident, a man in Kurnool town of Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday beat his pregnant wife to death for carrying a female foetus for the third consecutive time.

According to Kurnool Police, C. Prakash, a private firm employee residing in the Shankar Mutt area of the town, mercilessly beat his wife Surekha (26) after going through her ultra-sound report which revealed she was carrying a girl child.

Surekha, who was in her sixth month of pregnancy, could not withstand the beating and fell unconscious. Her parents immediately took her to the local government hospital, where she was declared brought dead.

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The Petals In The Dust team is organizing the Walk for India’s Missing Girls, a protest march against female infanticide and feticide in India that will take place on March 6 in San Francisco, part of an international effort to end the killing of baby girls in India.

Marches are also scheduled for Delhi, Mumbai, Pondicherry, Dublin, Melbourne, Ontario and in Kuwait.

-In the last century, 50 Million girls have been killed, either before or after they were born.

-In some regions of India, the female to male ratio is as low as 500 to 1000..

– Even in 2010, females are still considered a burden by many families

Why are these horrific crimes against women being ignored? Where is the public outcry? Where is the media attention?

Come join us in this global Walk on March 6, 2010, two days before International Women’s Day and help us let the world know about this Gender Holocaust, so we can work together to save India’s girls.

We hope to make this walk an international and annual event till female foeticide and infanticide is erradicated.

Details of Walk in the different cities

San Francisco
Date: 6 March 2010
Time : 11AM
Location : Starts in front of the the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate park.
Ends at the Indian Embassy, 540 Arguello Boulevard, San Francisco

Fight-Back is organizing a walk in Mumbai on Date:March, 6. 2010.
Time: 11AM
Location : Starts at Nariman Point and ends at Nirmala Niketan College, Churchgate.

Date: March 6
Time: 9:30AM
Location: Starts at the India Gate and ends at Jantar Mantar in Connaught Place.

Date: 7th March 2010
Time: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Starts at Golmuri Welfare Centre (attached to the Roman Catholic Cathedral and Bishop’s House ) and will return to Golmuri Center for discussions on female foeticide, infanticide, trafficking and domestic violence.

Date: March 6 2010
Time: 5PM
Kuwait Church, Rear Exit (Grotto Gate)
Saturday, March 6 at 5:00pm

Date: March 6 2010
Time: 11AM
Location: Starts at St. John the Baptist Church, Clontarf Rd, Dublin 3 and ends at the Bull Wall.

Date: March 6 2010
Time: 10:30AM
Location: Starts at Pondicherry University & ends at Auroville

Location, Time TBD

Come join the Walk for India’s Missing Girls – be a Voice for the women of India.

This will be a silent march but feel free to bring signs that will create awareness of female foeticide and infanticide in India and support the victims . Please spread the word to your friends and to anyone who would support this cause – invite them to be fans of this page. The larger the turnout at the walk the more awareness we can create about India’s female genocide.

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Sex selection in India

India’s daughters are disappearing. New research by ActionAid and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) shows that the number of girls born and surviving in northern India compared to boys falls far short of normal expectations, and continues to slide.

Disappearing Daughters Report

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After coming home from being away for several months, everything felt new, seemed strange, surreal. But only briefly, and then things realigned themselves and it’s as if I never left. After my third trip back from India, the only way I could convince myself that I was ever there was by frequenting the files on my computer that held the photos I had taken. Because it all felt like a dream. India is like being in a dream state, likely because it is fascinating beyond imagination. The fascination, some of it unbelievable, I find both alluring and appalling.

The temples, the artistry of them, are extraordinary. I’ve visited the Taj Mahal four times and still, I cannot get over it. But the temple I am really captivated by is quite different than the Taj, with few visitors, little attention paid to it. The 64-Yogini Hirapur Temple in Orissa. It’s ancient mystery is beguiling. The way it opens to the sky, 64 female figures encircling the inner sanctum of the stone shrine. Visiting the temple was the highlight of my journey, my primary reason for returning to India. My only regret is not having spent more time in the temple, to imbibe in the power of the yoginis.

India has many Goddesses of worship. I am particularly fond of Parvati, representative of the benevolent aspect of the Goddess. Mother of Ganesh, Wife of Shiva, Parvati is the Mother Goddess. In India, the Goddess or Devi represents Shakti, the divine, creative power of the universe.

On my computer I have a burgeoning file of online articles on the topics of female feoticide, female infanticide, and dowry murders happening in India. A country that worships the Goddess is killing it’s women. It’s not a secret, it makes the news on a daily basis: Do Not Kill A Female Child implores Renuka Chowdhury, Union Minister of State for Women and Child Development, Stray dogs eat thrown away infant girl, 26-year-old kills self over dowry, Man films wife in bed to extract dowry, Indians abort 900,000 girl foetuses a year. These are just a few of the stories. Sensational as the titles may seem, it’s become a mainstream way of life in India.

Over the course of the next several weeks I’ll post some of these articles along with personal thoughts, and stories that I gathered on my travels. Though the issue of the genocide of Indian women (femicide) is no secret, it is heavily veiled and too seldom discussed. For the sake of India’s Daughters and for the liberation of women everywhere, it is time we started talking about it and working towards it’s eradication.

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Rita Banerji is founder and chief administrator of the on-line international campaign 50 MILLION MISSING

A trained conservation biologist and ecologist, most of her work is women-focused.

Under the directive of Dr. Vandana Shiva, Rita worked on an ecological project for Chipko – a rural women’s grassroots movement in India – examining the role the local women played in preserving their environment. She has also been involved in projects that examine the roles that women have in the use of alternative energy resources, in traditional agriculture, and in the preservation of biodiversity in agriculture.

She is currently working on a non-fiction book to be released by Penguin (India) in July 2008.

I recently met and spent time with Rita in her hometown of Calcutta. Her knowledge on the issue of the genocide of Indian women is extraordinary. What follows is a discussion on the subject of Rita’s campaign.

Barbara: What is the 50 Million Missing campaign?

Rita: The primary aim of the 50 Million Missing campaign, which was launched on the website flickr in December 2006, is to raise awareness both in India and internationally, about the millions of women that have been systematically eliminated from India’s population due to customs like female foeticide, infanticide and dowry murders.

The word ‘missing’ was coined by Dr. Amartya Sen to refer to the number of women that should have been in India’s population, according to the normal male/female ratio universal to the human species. In industrialized countries such as Europe or North America, where there is no gender preference at birth, the natural ratio of men to women is about 100:105. Dr. Sen used an even lower bench-mark – 100:102 men to women (which he got from sub-Saharan Africa which has, among developing countries, the least difference in survival factors such as birth, life span, etcetera, between men and women) as the average for developing countries. Then, comparing this average with the gender ratio from the census data in 1986, of 93 women to 100 men, Sen found that there were 9 women ‘missing’ for every 100 men, and concluded that (at that time) India was “missing” a total of about 37 million women. Of course, that number continues to escalate and now stands at about 50 million. Hence the campaign name — 50 Million Missing.

In the future we plan to implement ground projects that are geared towards change, but before we can make any changes we first have to make people aware that this is happening. Most people (not just outside India but also within) are either not aware of the situation or are in denial that it exists. The first and most important challenge of this campaign is to break down the doubt and denial.

Barbara: What prompted you to launch the campaign; how did you become involved with this issue?

Rita: About 5 years ago while doing research for my book I came across the issue of millions of ‘missing’ women in India. Although Dr. Sen had put out this information two decades ago (in the late 80’s) I only became aware of it recently. So I began to look for more information and was horrified by what I discovered. This is why I call it India’s ‘silent genocide.’ Because it is so hidden. It is the silent but targeted elimination of a group – women. And something has to be done.

Barbara: Has the campaign gained interest from others? Are you working with other Organizations on this issue?

Rita: We have administrators and moderators from 7 countries for our group on Flickr. The interactive website – with more than 1400 world-wide members – has information galleries, discussion galleries, and a photo gallery with more than 7000 photos of Indian girls and women.

The reaction from people is mixed. Those that are aware of the issue are indignant, and very supportive. Many people, I think, are still in disbelief or in denial – they know it’s true but that’s not the public image they want for India. This is the land of Buddha and Gandhi and the whole non-violence philosophy. How could we have exterminated 50 Million of our own people – our own family members – daughters, wives, and daughters-in-law? The very thought is ghastly. Among groups –there are groups like the HRLN (Human Rights Law Network) London based ASF (Acid Survivors Foundation) that we have a good working relationship with and will form productive partnerships with. But we are still looking for more energetic and efficient NGOs we can partner with to foster change.

The group is currently preparing to set up an organization in India that will work on its cause related projects.

Barbara: What do you wish to accomplish with the campaign?

Rita: The first thing we wish to do is STOP the killings – the infanticides and dowry murders, and STOP female foeticide as well. The problem is so massive that the only way to do it is to have the government enforce existing laws. That is why we have an online petition that we’ve started circulating. We want the Indian government to be held accountable.

The second thing we’ll do is launch ground projects that will address the mindset, since it’s quite clear to us that this is what the cause is. It’s not poverty, or illiteracy. It is a cultural mindset that is fundamentally misogynist. So we want to start effecting long term change to people’s thinking through seminars, workshops, school curriculum, etc. The means and methods have yet to be worked out. But this is a long term project that will have to be carried out in a very systematic and measured manner.

Barbara: What can the general public do to become involved?

Rita: The first thing they need to do is sign the petition. Every signature on that petition is a voice of dissent. It says “I want this genocide to stop and I want the government of India to take the responsibility to implement its laws to stop this genocide.” This is mass homicide (even if we don’t include the female foeticide issue here), and therefore essentially a case of massive malfunctioning of India’s system of law and order. So sign and get as many people as you know to sign the petition.

Secondly once we start our projects we will need volunteers to help out with the surveys etc. So volunteer your time, even if it is just 1 or 2 hours a month!

Some of the resources or advice or expertise we will need in our ground projects include medical assistance, psychological counseling, teaching, skills training. So if you can offer your assistance please contact us.

Finally, speak out! Talk about the issues involved. Don’t be a mute spectator to the abuse of young women for dowry whether it’s in your family or that of your neighbors. Speak up. Intervene. Talk about the compulsion you witness of parents willing to take loans to pay dowry. Of parents refusing to allow their daughters to return home even when they know she is being abused. Of families forcing their wives and daughter-in-laws to undergo multiple abortions.

Silence – when people see it and don’t talk about it – has been one of the biggest perpetrators of genocide the world over. And don’t use the excuses: “These things cannot be changed. Dowry is an old tradition. People want sons to support them in their old age and carry on the family’s name,” for that is resignation. That is a mindset that allows this genocide to exist. Allow it no room to exist.

50 Million Missing
Please sign the petition

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Rita Banerji, a freelance writer and photographer based in Calcutta, India, initiated the 50 MILLION MISSING campaign in December 2006. Rita’s campaign, which currently has 1,426 members, is on the website Flickr, offering members the opportunity to submit their photographs of women to be used as part of the campaign. There is also an ongoing discussion to further inform and educate others to the genocide of our sisters in India. Please visit and support her initiative in your support of the daughters of India.

From the website:

This is a Campaign to increase International awareness about the 50 million women that are currently missing from India’s population.

Due to a traditional preference for sons, daughters are regularly dispensed with through selective abortions and the practice of infanticide. It is also estimated that between 7,000-10,000 women are annually murdered by their in-laws and husbands, after being subject to extended physical and mental torture.

This is India’s silent genocide, and it is time for it to STOP.

This website was initially started with idea that each of the 50 million missing women be represented by a photograph of Indian women or girls engaged in various activities of life. However, since this is an awareness campaign, we encourage anyone who visits this site and supports our cause to please join as member, even if you submit no photos. Each membership strengthens our cause.

We of course welcome your comments and question in the discussion section.

50 Million Missing

Rita has been working closely with Roopa, a young woman who is a victim of dowry abuse. Her husband, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law forced acid down Roopa’s throat and then left her for dead. Roopa managed to get help however, and is surviving to tell her story today. You can read about it here:

ROOPA’S STORY (The voice of one dowry victim)

Rita’s tireless campaign to raise awareness on the genocide of Indian women is exemplary. I look forward to meeting and working with her when I visit India in 2008.

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