Sunday, January 15, 2006

Why am I not surprised ?!

First off, its a sad reality that the female:male ratio is already so low in many North Indian states and its falling further.. I think this is one of the alarming issues facing India that needs urgent attention.. and it is sad that in the land of Shakti worship, cases of selective girl-child abortions, or female infanticide is indeed a sad reality , even though (I am hoping) numbers may have reduced in the recent past

But just a couple of points.. IMA has disputed the study which claimed 10million such cases in the past 10 years (for comparison, that is 1% of India's population)

{ Article in question: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4601184.stm .


India 'lost birth' study disputed

A top Indian doctors' association has disputed a report which says more than 10m female births may have been lost over the past two decades. }


Well, here are the statitics from the net

Sex Ratio In India in 100 years

Years Sex Ratio
1901 972
1911 964
1921 955
1931 950
1941 945
1951 946
1961 941
1971 930
1981 934
1991 927
2001 933

Source: Census of India 2001

(Note: I wonder, if I extrapolate the graph to pre-Bitish, and also pre-islamic invasions periods, would it have hit a 1000:1000 ? So did India (read Hinduism) have a natural way of keeping the balance which got destroyed somewhere ? Was dowry deaths only a few centuries old phenomenon ? )

If the statistics is to be believed, then the sex ration has actually improved in the last decade, eventhough there is a looong way to go !! And even assuming that it was a previous decade's figures, 1% would have meant that it go down by 10 for every thousand (not exactly, but approx).. between 1981-1991, it did go down by 7 for a 1000, but at that time India's population was not 1000 million.. So mathematically it looks a bit impossible for the 10 million number in 10 years.. (unless I am screwing it up somewhere,,,especialy because of the 10 year period factor )

Anyways, life isn't mathematics, and this is not a percentage game.. As long as there is even a single child being killed before or after birth, just because she is a girl, we as a Nation lose.. period .. And I really really hope that the trend in 1991-2001 will continue

--------------------------------

In the meantime CSM has come up with this interesting report

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0113/p01s04-wosc.html

They say 5 lakh a year, meaning 5 million in a decade.. still quite a number, and sadly, may have been close to reality at one time, and may be even now.. (we just don't know)

But the most interesting aspect of it is this

The practice is common among all religious groups - Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Muslims, and Christians - but appears to be most common among educated women, a fact that befuddles public health officials and women's rights activists alike.

Why am I not surprised ? Is it because of my belief that secular education has almost nothing to do with how ethical you are ? And that spiritual education is the only way out ? Am I subconciously drawing a parallel to the fact that many of the islamic terrorists are in fact well educated in the modern sense of the world ? (remember the London School of Economics guy who kidnapped and murdered Daniel Pearl ? ) Is it the feeling that a poor but socially conscious priest telling an "uneducated woman" that killing a girl child would bring them God's wrath eternally, may be much more effective than a high-class society lady tellling "educated women" in a conference that for sake of social equality and gender non-discrimination, and feministic reasons, girl child's be not killed ?

I donno, I am just lost.. Do whatever you want, just get the damn practice stopped !

2 comments:

sarayu said...

"Was dowry deaths only a few centuries old phenomenon ?"

shox, I know for sure, atleast in AP( one if the highest dowry deaths recorded states), That dowry death is just a century old. (definetly not more than that.)

because it was during independece time or may be little before that there existed a system called "kanyasulkam" where the bridegroom would give "kanya"= the girl , "sulkam" = money/ property.

But since the richest are usually the oldest , Old men started wedding very young girls at alarming age differences of 60 : 2 too... so invariably the girl got widowed sooner....hence many of freedom fighters from AP also who were reformers.. abolished this sysytem and remaried all the widows.. but donno from when on this " dowry" system started. Definetly doesnt age more than 80-90 yrs.. in my place..

drisyadrisya said...

Sarayu

Thanks for the comments.. It has actually brought out some interesting points

1) Yeah, the boy paying the girls family isn't going to help either for the kind of reasons you pointed out.. and also I guess in some parts of North east this custom is there, but the wives are made to work even harder as the husbands family shows a "look, we paid for you attitude"

2) Though slightly off topic, I feel that lots and lots of things that we see today has been influenced by the islamic and the Brtish periods, and we are yet to know indepth how they changed many things for the worst. For example, I remember reading in Gandhi's autobio that the custom of child marriage came into being because of islamic invasions, in an attempt to protect girls from being abducted etc

After all, in Hindu scriptures "Brahmacharya" for both girls and boys is prescribed for 21 years ....

3) To the question of dowry, well seems like there is atleast one book related to it..

(eventhough I am not so sure if she what the place of Manusmrithi has in Hinduism, for her to be equating that with Hinduism)

Author :

http://www.baruch.cuny.edu/wsas/departments/history/faculty/oldenburg.html

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0195150724/002-3340495-0548050?v=glance&n=283155

Book Description
The Hindu custom of dowry has long been blamed for the murder of wives and female infants in India. In this highly provocative book, Veena Oldenburg argues that these killings are neither about dowry nor reflective of an Indian culture or caste system that encourages violence against women. Rather, such killings can be traced directly to the influences of the British colonial era. In the precolonial period, dowry was an institution managed by women, for women, to enable them to establish their status and have recourse in an emergency. As a consequence of the massive economic and societal upheaval brought on by British rule, womens entitlements to the precious resources obtained from land were erased and their control of the system diminished, ultimately resulting in a devaluing of their very lives. Taking us on a journey into the colonial Punjab, Veena Oldenburg skillfully follows the paper trail left by British bureaucrats to indict them for interpreting these crimes against women as the inherent defects of Hindu caste culture. The British, Oldenburg claims, publicized their "civilizing mission" and blamed the caste system in order to cover up the devastation their own agrarian policies had wrought on the Indian countryside. A forceful demystification of contemporary bride burning concludes this remarkably original book. Deploying her own experiences and memories and her research at a women's shelter with "dowry cases" for almost a year in the mid-eighties, the author looks at the contemporary violence against wives and daughters-in-law in modern India. Oldenburg seamlessly weaves the contemporary with the historical, the personal with the political, and strips the layers of exoticism off an ancient practice to show how an invaluable safety net was twisted into a deadly noose. She brings us startlingly close to the worsening treatment of modern Indian women as she challenges us to rethink basic assumptions about womens human and economic rights. Combining rigorous research with impassioned analysis and a nuanced treatment of a complex, deeply controversial subject, this book critiques colonialism while holding a mirror to gender discrimination in modern India.