She makes the world bright, but still struggles to see light.
When we imagine India of our dreams and brag so much about our unity, about our broad mindedness, about our technological progress to attract the major powers of the world, still writing on this topic hurts the most because if the foundation is weak the built on is no guarantee. India, in all its glory of being an IT superpower and one of the fastest developing countries, tragically represents the lowest child sex ratio in the world. Yes it is the girl child we are talking about if we cannot save them then we will not have any future generations and people to work, for she is considered to be “janani- the creator”.
India has been and still is a “Male Dominated Society” hence women are at the receiving end. They are always will treated and ill-treated at every step. She is never allowed to dwell and survive freely. Worst of all she is often killed before being born while in mother’s womb itself (the silent violence). This is foetus killing or infanticide and is the gross downfall of humanity, morality and the values leading to gender imbalance which is becoming a grave problem especially in India.
The major question marks against her respect being:-
Foeticide- The crime of female foetus aborting is widespread not only in rural illiterate areas but in urban educated societies too. The parental diagnostic techniques were meant only for detecting abnormalities in the unborn infant and associated risks to the pregnant mother if any. The doctors, however, violate this law.
No education- The myth still remains that, education is useless for girls – they have to concentrate on house work, child bearing and child bringing up all through life – and all this, it is believed needs no education.
Rapes, acid attacks and killings- Upon attaining puberty, a girl is considered to be a security risk, a likely source of trouble for the family’s honor and reputation.
Dowry- the lump sum payment in cash, kind and gold paid by the father of the girl assuming that her in laws will keep her happily and safely for the rest of her life. So instead of going this difficult and unsure way, “dowry” becomes the economic reason for her killing.
Domestic violence, right to live respectfully- Besides no matter what status a woman may achieve outside home, inside the home she, by and large remains a chattel.
Emotional and mental struggles of not having a say in family or work decisions- She, even today remains to have the status of an object to be used or dispensed with at the whims and fancies of her male family members.
Illegal representation of women- wherein she is objectified instead of being presented as a spineful individual, by our ever shouting and ever right media.
On the one hand we see girls entering in the fields of all kinds of professions holding senior positions in offices, becoming engineers, doctors, managers etc. We are obviously impressed and are likely to believe that, the position of the girl is now after all not too bad. However, the complexity of the problem becomes malicious when we see that, together with girls entering professions there is a simultaneous and continuous rise in the graph of crimes against women. Why and how do these two sides of the same problem co-relate, is a mind-boggling situation.
Here are some remedial measures which must be practiced to reduce violence against women & girls:
1. Prohibiting the withdrawal of girls from school in order to ensure that they can continue and complete their education, because education as a tool will do the further talking.
2. Promote gender equality in schools and widen access to education for girls. It has been proven time and time again that girls enrolled in school are less likely to be married early and become pregnant. If that weren’t reason enough, girls that obtain higher levels of education are more likely to find employment and become empowered as a result of their financial contributions to the family and community. Also they develop a strong sense of awareness for everything around them. As it is said “if you educate a man you educate an individual and if you educate a woman you educate the entire family”.
3. Provide women with access to legal representation and opportunities to pursue justice against perpetrators of violence through the formal legal system- having things said and done theoretically this power should be treated as a genuine weapon and should be used by women fearlessly.
4. End forced early marriage and premature pregnancy, the leading cause of death of girls between 15 to 19 years of age. With more than 142 million girls expected to marry before they turn 18 over the next decade, programs like “Apni Beti Apna Dhan (ABAD)”, which offer conditional cash transfers to incentivize families to delay their daughter’s marriages, will likely help reduce arranged marriages and allow girls to develop both physically and mentally before marriage and child-birth.
5. Bring greater attention to violence, be it domestic or intimate partner violence, emotional abuse, human trafficking, sexual assault and abuse, stalking, violence against women at work and women with disabilities. The women need to be the whistle blowers in this regard if they really want to protect themselves.
6. Revise marriage laws that are institutionally biased against women, particularly those that deny women custody over their children, inheritance, and land rights in cases of death, separation or divorce. The revised laws should bring about unprecedented rights for women, including the right to oversee property-related transactions, manage family land and resources and retain a portion of land to live on and cultivate if widowed or divorced or to be provided with appropriate alimony.
7. Administrative measures and political will, India, as a country, needs a heroic administrative impetus to break the shackles and come out of the morbid shadows of such practices. No amount of individual efforts or non-governmental awareness movements can have an impact unless the administration takes up the responsibilities.
• Provision of free and compulsory education in practice, not only in theory
• Effective implementation of the Dowry Prohibition Act and other relevant laws
• Grant of equal property rights to girls
• A department for women and a commission for women must be established at central and state levels
• Extensive support should be available to NGOs and such organizations
• Women’s organizations, media houses and magazines should offer forums for networking.
It seems there is no single package that could improve matters for the girl child except for a “Mental Revolution” that men change their attitude towards women. No single item of achievement like education, profession, legal rights or even the mixture of all these will work out a solution – the only feasible solution is the change of mind, the change of attitude of the men towards women. And to use the God gifted physical strength to protect instead of exploiting her. Even women have to change their attitude towards the girl child/ women. At least partly women are themselves responsible for their position. As women it is they who pamper their sons and husbands till they begin to believe that they are really superior beings.
Nobody should expect the evil of female foeticide to be eradicated overnight or just by launching an awareness drive. Women need to make an effort to reach out to each other through groups, share experiences and give support. Parents should also have an open mindset towards enrolling their children in co-education schools to ensure healthy exposure. Sex education should be imparted at an appropriate age by the parents or guardians themselves.
My contribution as an individual, the most important and effective thing I can do is to influence the attitudes of those around me. Make my friends, relatives and immediate family aware of the girl’s capabilities. Trying to make the young girls around me aware of their self-worth, especially the under-privileged ones. It’s not the words but the action that matters, “Every Mother Counts” and being a female myself I vouch that if I have a girl child then “I will become the change I wish to see in the world”.