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According to the provisional census figures released on Thursday, the sex ratio (the number of females per 1,000

males) for the 0-6 age group, has dramatically dropped to 914 in 2011, from 927 in 2001. This means in a decade when the country enjoyed unprecedented economic growth, it also became a terrifyingly hostile place to be conceived or born as a girl. "It's extremely alarming and everybody should be worried and careful against this malaise," said Girija Vyas, chairperson of the National Commission for Women. Vyas said the PC & PNDT Act (Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994) needs to be bolstered. "Convictions under the Act are very low. Female foeticide is high even in states that have high education and are affluent. The government needs to step in and act urgently," she said. Union home secretary GK Pillai acknowledged the meed for meaningful interventions to address the issue. "Whatever measures that have been put in over the last 40 years has not had any impact on child sex ratio and therefore that requires a complete review," Pillai said. The sheer scale of the country comes through in the Census exercise. During 2001-2011, India added nearly as many people as there are in Brazil. If Uttar Pradesh was a country, it would be the fifth most populous country in the world. The overall sex ratio in the country improved from 933 to 940, the highest recorded sex ratio since the 1971 census. Three states-J&K, Gujarat and Bihar, showed a decline in the sex ratio. There was good news on the literacy front as the effective literacy rate rose to 74.04, up from 64.83 in 2001. Male literacy rate, at 82.14 is ahead of the female literacy rate of 65.46. The female literacy rate, however, posted greater gains, at 11.8 points increase between 2001 and 2011, compared with the male literacy rate, which only grew by 6.9 points. More females came into the fold of the literate than males. Ten states and union territories achieved a literacy rate of above 85%. Population density rose at almost the same rate as absolute population-at 17.5% from 325 persons per square km in 2001, to 382 in 2011. The massive decadal census exercise covered 6.41 lakh villages deploying 2.7 million officials. The cost of the exercise worked out to be Rs18.19 per person. The census figures are critical for policymaking and captures a country in transition. "The single loudest message coming through is that female foeticides continue unabated. This is extremely worrying," said Pronab Sen, a former chief statistician of India and a senior advisor to the Planning Commission. "The long term sociological effects of this are already visible in states like Haryana, where human trafficking has gone up, setting off a chain of fairly nasty events," Sen said.

Amrita Paul

Let a man be careful to honour his wife, for he owes to her alone all the blessings of his house. -Talmud. And finally Meera walked into the living room. Dressed in a simple salwaar kameez she came and served tea to the guests. She sat down grimly beside her parents while the boys family continued to stare at her. At last, Meeras mom decided to break the silence and as she started speaking about her daughter it felt as though she was giving the job profile of her maid. Oh she can cook anything. Indian, Lebanese, Chinese. She is good at household work too. She is

She is an economics graduate with a post graduation in Business Administration. She is an author of several research papers and has been teaching at the University level for two years.- finished Meera as she left the room disgusted.

Welcome to 21st Century India. We women are progressing after all. I mean look at us, we have six seats reserved for us in public buses. We are leading political parties, multinational corporations; we dance around in movies wearing skimpy clothes without any objection from the Censor Board whatsoever. Ten years into a new era, a woman is no less than a man; she is gritty and brimming with self confidence. She carries herself with lan and smartly conceals that black patch underneath her eye which was a gift from her husband as dinner was not ready when he had come back from work, the night before. There are thousands of other Meeras who are married off every day to someone they barely know because, their parents know it best. More often than not, these marriages fail miserably because the very premise of Indian marriages is based on a gender prejudice. Think about it. Why do women alone have to leave their parents house and settle down with her in laws irrespective of whether they respect her or not? We call it tradition but we never mean it. The younger generation although more aware, still feels that- Only westernized families have the luxury of falling in love. So then is that it, Is it okay to compromise our own happiness for some obtrusive convention we fondly call, - TRADITION? May you be the mother of hundred sons. For an Indian woman, her greatest accomplishment is motherhood. Everything prior to marriage is preparation. Everything after motherhood is reward for fulfilling her destined role. In Semitic religions, children are considered to be the Gift of Godwhich leaves little scope for family planning. As far as a Hindu woman is concerned, it is tacitly understood that she must bear sons. Because, with the birth of a son the continuity and safe keeping of the fathers soul is assured. It is almost implied that bringing up a daughter would be a sheer waste since she is destined to cater to someone elses family. No matter how much we debate, even in the present times the birth of a son calls for special celebration. And after thirty years, when the same son disposes his parents off to some old age home, his folks continue to believe that it was for their best. One cant help being taken aback by such an astounding faith in a child whose immediate concern is anything but them. Self immolation: Distant Myth or a Harsh Reality? Year 1987. Roop Kanwar, 18 had been burnt alive on her husbands pyre who died at the age of 24. Most of the villagers stood testimony to this heinous crime but no one; absolutely no one had come forward to help the young girl. Even Roops parents were oblivious to this incident till they read about it in the newspaper. As Roops in laws continue to stress on the fact that it was her decision to commit sati, one cannot help but wonder as to why an educated girl like her would possibly give into any sort of religious fancy unless she was forced into doing it? Today, Twenty four years later, women continue to be victimized in this society and are not only burnt to death but raised to see self immolation as their only escape from miserable marriages or worse as an act of courage or inspiration. The number of dowry deaths reported in the year 1987 was 990, and today it has increased to 7618. Such cases almost always meet a futile end

because of the difference in opinions between the victim, prosecutor and police. But if a woman does not have the right to decide whether she wants to marry and when and whom, how far she wants to study, whether she wants to take a particular job or not, how is it that she suddenly gets the right to take such a major decision as to whether she wants to die? Irrespective of her financial and socio political status a woman continues to be someone whom we expect to take care of us, to make ends meet, to suffer in silence as her husband continues to have an affair with his secretary. A woman has so many things piled up in her mind; she has so much love in her heart but sadly not much of it is reciprocated in a similar manner. To bring about a change in her life, we have to change the way we look at her. Even at an individual level we must understand that just like we need our mothers, wives and sisters, they also need us at some point of time. To even remotely comprehend the seriousness of the issue, we need to be comforting and patient rather than demanding and insensitive. The transformation has to begin within us first, so that we can take up the cause and inspire others to do the same. Quoting filmmaker Aparna Sen, But I feel that by doing my own thing the way I believe, and not abiding every single rule that is laid down, I am holding up myself as an example. I dont presume I am but I dont see what else I can do.

By Mamta: In India homemakers are equated with beggars, prostitutes and prisoners. It might appear shocking to some but it is a gruesome reality. This has come to forefront when the Supreme Court asked Parliament to rethink the value of homemakers pointing out that even the Census of India officially categorises them as economically non-productive workers alongside beggars, prostitutes and prisoners. The court said this approach is insensitive, callous and indicative of strong gender bias against women. The observation has come on an appeal filed by Arun Agrawal whose 39 year old homemaker wife Renu died after their car met with an accident a few years ago. Arun sought a compensation of Rs 19.2 lakh from the insurance company for the death of his wife. The court said, A wife or mother does not work by the clock. She is in constant attendance of the family throughout the day and night unless she is employed and is required to attend the employers work for particular hours. She takes care of all the requirements of husband and children including cooking of food, washing of clothes, etc. She teaches small children and provides invaluable guidance to them for their future life. It is really unfortunate that people still dont consider the value of a homemaker. She compromises her career for the sake of her family. In our society, cooking food, looking after children and other household chores has often been considered as a moral duty of women. Since birth they are told that they have to look after their family and its their first and foremost responsibility. An aspiring woman is considered as ignorant, irresponsible and sometimes evil. Women are still trapped in their traditional role as a homemaker. It is not that they voluntarily opt for this role. Our value system and patriarchal set up dont let women to step out of their house. And even if they want to work the incidents of sexual harassment at workplace such as in womens hockey team put obstacles in their way. What could be said about our value system when even our laws are not favourable for women? The judge said, Gender bias is shockingly prevalent in the work of the Census a statutory exercise blessed by Parliament in the form of the Census Act, 1948. The judgment said, Monetary value of cooking for family members could be assessed in terms of what it would cost to hire a cook or to purchase ready cooked food or by assessing how much money could be earned if the food cooked for the family were to be sold in the locality.

It is a very significant observation by the apex court. Indeed the time has come and women should get their due. At least women should get the recognition for their work

By Prabhu Mallikarjunan: When the clock strikes half past six, Priyanka gently requests her husband Rahul to prepare a cup of coffee while she gets ready to go to office. Rahul accepts and prepares a strong cup of coffee. Quarter past seven, he prepares breakfast and keeps it ready for her and he manages to do all other household work for rest of the day. Rahul does not work, instead Priyanka heads the family. Isnt that possible in reality? It could be possible in some urban households. Does it really mean women are empowered?

The latest National Family and Health Survey (NFHS) report (Figure 6.1) indicates an increasing trend in females heading the household. But it could also happen that a woman is heading the household because her husband has died or hes working elsewhere. But, this opens up the issue of gender inequality in the society. Where do we stand in terms of gender equality? Our Constitution guarantees equality and opportunity while prohibiting any discrimination. Indias top post is held by a woman, and yet we are far away from attaining equality and empowering women. The Global Gender Gap Report 2010 report indicates that India stands at 112 among 134 countries worldwide. The Global Gender Gap Report 2010 brought out by the World Economic Forum benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education and health based criteria, and provides country rankings that allow for effective comparisons across regions and income groups, and over time. It ranks countries according to gender equality rather than womens empowerment. It is important to understand and define gender, before I proceed further. While sex refers to the biological differences between males and females, gender describes the socially constructed roles, rights and responsibilities that communities and societies consider appropriate for men and women. (Source: UNICEF)

The 2001 census data revealed a sharp decline in the sex ratio for the population age 0-6, from 945 females in 1991 to 927 females per 1,000 males. The National Family Health Survey data for the period 1992-93 to 2005-06 also provides evidence of continued decline of sex ratio and shows that in 2005-06 the under-seven sex ratio had fallen further to 918 females per 1,000 males (Figure 2.1). States like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Andhra Pradesh have sex ration less than 900 females per 1000 male. This just intensifies the discrimination against the girl child. India also has among the worst sex ratio at birth in the world, ranking 131st on this variable. Despite increased awareness campaigns and education, discrimination still persists to a large extent. Isnt the new medical technology helping us? Finally, is technology a boon or bane? Technology like ultrasound diagnostic testing which determines the sex of the foetus has hurt more than it has helped in India.

The sex ratios at birth estimated separately for pregnancies with and without ultrasound testing provided clear evidence that many are using ultrasound tests for sex selection. Figure 2.5 also shows that the sex ratio of completed pregnancies with an ultrasound test to women in the highest wealth quintile (818) is lower than for pregnancies with an ultrasound to women in any other wealth quintile (854- 905). Thus, the set of pregnancies with an ultrasound test have a sex ratio at birth that is lower than the biologically normal sex ratio, while that with no test have a sex ratio close to normal. We somehow perform better in terms of political empowerment, ranking 24 of the 134 countries. In the economic participation and health and survival indexes we rank among the bottom ten. Gender equality and womens empowerment goes hand in hand and hence they both represent a single UN millennium goal. In reality, we lag behind in several aspects to achieve this millennium development goal

Growing Sexual Offences against Women in India: Do we care?

Gitanjali Maria: Every time she walked the empty streets; she turned occasionally to see is some one was stalking her, if anyone was following her. Not until she reached the safety of her house, did her breath become normal. This is how most women walk the streets, praying that they reach home safely, without getting eve-teased or stalked. Even at home she cant feel 100% safe; thats the situation today. India is a country which preaches about how to respect woman as mother and sister. In ancient India, women were revered and respected. But today India remains one of the countries with the highest number of molestation and rape cases. Statistics report a staggering 20000 cases of rape and harassment of women in 2008. There have been cases of molestation of girl children as young as six months to women over sixty years. Statistics show that on an average a woman is raped every hour in India. Only one in 69 rape cases are reported and out of it only 20% of those reported result in convictions for the rape accused. Rapes happen across the social strata in India. Nobody is spared, neither the rich nor the poor. Many at times these cases are hushed up in the name of family honour or out of fear of the perpetuator, who often happens to be of high position and influence, or in many cases, an acquaintance. Also there is the stigma attached to it and the ostracization of the victim from the society for no fault of hers. How much ever we might talk of women empowerment and gender equality our society still remains largely gender-inequal. In case of a dispute or a fight or a legal battle it is always the women who are silenced and asked to surrender. Even when she is the victim the society points its finger at her and screams it is because of you and your ways that you landed with this fate. Women who venture out alone or do something out of the box are looked at with suspicious eyes. The victim of sexual harassment is often silenced by her own family members out of fear and shame and the victim is denied justice. Even if a complaint is filed, the accused is often let free or released with minimal punishment. The trial lasts for decades and many at the times the victim and the family would like to get over with the tragedy and are forced to drop the charges. It is a sad fact the even the media-hyped molestation cases like those of Ruchika Girhotra and Priyadarshini Matttoo cases have taken such long time to deliver the verdicts. While the accused roam free with head held high, it is the victim who has bear the brunt of the society and feel ashamed. It is the victim who is the loser, sometimes even in front of the judicial system. Why is the victim further is victimized and tortured mentally when the bloody accused walks free and enjoys life? In addition to it, there are also the honour killings of female family members if they marry out of caste or fall in love with a person of a different religion or caste. The number of dowry related harassment of women is also high in India. This ill treatment meted out to women is encouraged due to the fact that the chances of getting away with this crime are high and that women can be taunted and easily silenced up. Strict and swift punishment of such crimes and proper awareness and change of attitude of the society can only help prevent the rising number of crimes against women in Indian society. Only when we have a crime free society can we say that we have achieved gender equality and women empowerment and this only can lead to development and prosperity for women are the ones who rock the cradle and rule the world

Stitched and Locked up The state of women in India

Sadhogopal Ram: As you read this article, Sabitri, a 21 year old woman in Jharkhands Dhanbad city, has most probably succumbed to the unbearable pain caused by the injuries in her private parts given to her by the same man who happens to be the father of her 2 month old son her husband Sannimar Munda, a labourer. Theirs was an arranged marriage. They had tied the knot in 2007 and had been living a normal life together. But it only takes a moment to change the course of life and so, it was a moments fury over a small quarrel between the husband and wife that changed everything for everyone related to it the husband, the wife and the 2 month old son. According to the news published in Times of India on 14th of May, it so appears that Sannimar Munda stitched the private parts of his wife Sabitri with wire after her request to visit her parents infuriated him. Munda became angry when she said that she wanted to go to her parents home. He then charged her with having an extra-marital relationship. Their quarrel took an inhuman turn when Munda tied her hands and legs and also gagged her by putting clothes in her mouth and started stitching her private parts with steel wire (used for tightening fences and plaster bases created by iron rods). Still not satisfied by his horrible act, he then locked her up in a room and went out. This is just one real life case of the atrocities that have been pouring upon the women in our civilised society in every part, corner and centre of todays raising India. Whatever happened to uprightness! According to the survey report of National Family health Survey-3 (NFHS-3) more than 35 percent of women have experienced physical or sexual violence. And this figure (35%) transforms into millions of women who have suffered, and continue to endure the atrocities, at the hands of their husbands and other family members. And its not just the married women who are under constant fear and live at the so called kindnesses of their man but also the never married ones, who endure both physical and sexual violence. What is even worse is that most of those women do not even speak up or seek help when they are abused, and to top it all, a majority of women (54% to be precise) and men (51%) from our sensible society say that a husband is very much justified in beating his wife. Sense, it seems, has been stitched and locked inside a coffin to suffer and die (Just like our Sabitri). Sabitri later managed to escape from the room and somehow reached her parents house. Her parents then took her to the Patliputra Medical College and Hospital in Dhanbad and later logged a complaint against Munda. Police have registered a First Information Report (FIR) against him on charges including attempt to murder, he has been absconding since then.

But who is going to help escape the stitched and locked up sense from the coffin and lodge a complaint against the millions and millions who are responsible for its miserable state along with tortured women of our society? Who? Below is a small list of acts which falls under the category of Physical, Sexual and Emotional Violence against Women: Physical Violence: Pushing, Shaking, Throwing something at her, Slapping, Arm twisting, Hair Pulling, Punching, Kicking, Dragging, Beating, Trying to choke or burn her on purpose, and threatening her or attacking her with a weapon. Sexual Violence: Physically forcing the wife against her will to have sex or perform other sexual acts that she did not want to perform. Emotional Violence: Saying or doing something to humiliate her in front of others, threatening to hurt or harm her or someone close to her, Insulting her or making her feel bad about herself. If there is better sense prevailing, if the youth has the power to change things, then why not act now?

"Kill Her, Shes A Girl", Female Foeticide in India, A Forgotten Evil

Posted by YouthKiAwaaz on October 10, 2009 in Uncategorized 5 Comments

Parul Sabherwal Agle saal chhora is a famous phrase which was a part of an advertisement and all over the television just before the government imposed a ban against the same. But this phrase says a lot, not only about this issue but also about the thinking or the mindset of the people of our country. chhora or a male child is what a number of parents want today, and a result of this is the day by day deteriorating sex ratio in India. Some of the worst gender ratios, that indicate the violation of women rights are seen in the south east asian countries especially in India and China.

No moral or ethical principle supports sex determination by means of ultrasound, amniocentesis and in vitro fertilisation. Though in the world society killing of women exist in various forms but Indian society shows some particularly brutal versions like sati, dowry deaths etc. female foeticide is an extreme step in this violence against women. Female foetuses are aborted after pre- natal sex determination, avoiding the birth of girls. In many parts the sex ratio has dropped to less then 800:1000. It was in the state of Punjab, Harayana and delhi that the situation was worse because of the private foetal sex determination clinics were established and their practice became very popular in the 1970s. Though we come across many social evils in todays world but female foeticide is very common but still very less talked about. The youth of today has become a little aware of such an evil because of many television shows that target this very topic. The main reason for killing of girls as foetuses or infants is that they are considered as liability by their parents, some practices like dowry in india force the parents to have such a thinking. Boys on the other hand are considered to be the pillar of the family as they are the earning member and the support for their parents in their old age. Though today this is just a misconception but still people go by this thinking and kill their girl child even before she comes to this beautiful world. The role of the three organisations namely media, NGOs and government is very important. Media is considered to be the most important in spreading awareness about any social issue. Though media today, in the world of commercialisation does not give much importance to developmental issues but many television channels today are showing many daily soaps on this subject at the prime time slot. Not only electronic media, but even traditional form of media like tamasha, nautanki etc. are also being used to spread the message for the rural population. They try to create a positive image about girls so as to bring attitudinal changes amongst these people so that they give importance to a girl child. On the other hand the government is taking a number of initiatives in forms of policies like laadli yojna, free and compulsory education for girl child, various scholarships etc. These provide a lot of support to the not so privileged parents and encourages them to give birth to a girl child. This problem is coming up as a very serious issue. It is important for the parents to understand the importance of a girl child as women today are no less but even more important then their male counterparts. The most recent example is our very own President Mrs. Pratibha Patil. Though it took us a long time of about 6.5 decades to give the big position to a woman but as it is said that better late then never, we have realised the power of women. So now I would like to conclude by saying that it should be agle saal chhori rather then praying for a boy always and this change can be brought about in the society by us only. I would leave you with some shocking facts that will tell u the seriousness of the situation. * 1 out of every 3 girls does not live to see her 15th birthday * 1/3rd of these deaths take place at birth. * Every 6th girl childs death is due to sex determination. * 3 lakh more girls then boys die every year. * By 2020 there would be more then 35 million young surplus males in china and 25 million in India. Now its totally up to you people to decide whether you want to see a change or not.