Posts Tagged ‘infanticide’


Guest post by Himanshu Gupta, city director of  Yuva Unstoppable, a volunteer based organization focussed on empowering youth for a better tomorrow.

Nanhi si pari

Paida hoke woh giri,

Woh pyare se hath,

Jisko diya na kisi ne sath.

Woh Maa ka anchal,

Jo kar deta usko chanchal.

Woh chote se per,

Jisko kara sabne gaer.

Woh uska pehla kadam

Jismein ayi mushkil hardam.

Woh nanhi se jaan

Jisko kiya sabne bahut pareshan.

Woh Bapu ka saya

Jismein har waqt andhera hi kyun usne paya?

Woh meethe se sapne

Jisme ban gaye ab khuni hi apne.

Usne us waqt ek sawal uthaya

Jispe sab ne usko kar diya paraya

Sawal jo usne kiya:

“Hey bhagwan!

Mene khole jab ye nayan

To tha sab rangeen.

Jab hui thodi badi

To kya kara mene sangeen?

Rishto ne hi mera mujhse sab kyun china?

Maa ka anchal aur baap ka saya

Kyun le aya mere jeevan me andhera?

Kyun karta hai tu peida humein e insaan?

Jaha ghol diya sharafat ki aad mein shaiton ka ye aasman

Kya guna mene kiya ye ling paake?

Badan se nhi uthi hai nazar auro ki mere is duniya mein ake.

Na rishto ka moh hai na duniya ye rangeen,

Kya astitva paya

Kya kara mene sangeen?

Tadap tadap roke maine bitaya har pal.

Ghut-ghut marke mene jiya har kal.

Yaadon ki nagri mein

Basa woh andhera

Ae Bhagwan! kyun tu us mandir mein betha?

Jaha tera khud ka na hai basera

Jaha tera khud ka na hai basera..”

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This is the first story from my book ‘Steps’.There are eight  stories in all, all fiction and I will share my women and a part of myself through them here … with all of you. I hope you will find yourselves too somewhere. 

Uma- I wrote it as I waited to be called for an interview. I had nothing with me except copies of my resume and wrote in on the back of the three pages that make my resume. The director probably saw me scribbling away and asked me to show him what I was writing Outside. Hesitantly I showed him my scribbled story. He told me that though I was the most highly qualified candidate and would be offered  the job,  I should go home and write. I did.

UMA

Uma lay quietly, looking up at the soot darkened walls and the sunlight filtering through the dusty mesh. It made odd patterns. They reminded her of her daughter’s attempt at putting henna on her hands, as she had last week, on the auspicious festival of Gangaur. She raised her hands to see the discoloured henna, and rubbed them feebly together- blood on her hands.  What was wrong with her, why was she thinking of blood and death? She lay awaiting life- the birth of her child- her fifth child, child..??  After four daughters she awaited only the birth of a son, no longer of a ‘child’.

            Pain came stronger now, in waves, but Uma did not make a sound. She had screamed enough the past four times but the Gods had not listened, better to bear it. Oh! Why did she not have the optimism these other women squatting around her had? They seemed sure she would beget a son- the promised heir to the name and property. Property? The meager 2 acres left over from drink and gambling? He needed a heir for THAT? She laughed mirthlessly and her sister-in-law mistaking the sound for a sob, moved close, dabbing her forehead with her sari pallu.

            Uma looked into the face of her husband’s younger sister. She seemingly bore no resemblance to the young pretty girl she had been when Uma had entered the house as a young bride. Girls were not supposed to be happy but at least there had been hope and a vestige of a dream on her face. Five years of marriage had wiped out the wishes and dreams. Like the women around her, her face had only weariness etched in its lines now. Not grief, not desperation not even the death of her dreams – just weariness of life , of the constant compromise, the acceptance of the unaccceptable. They looked into each other’s eyes and shifted their gaze away, it seemed they both know the truth that they would have to face soon. Let’s leave it for now, their eyes said.

            Uma’s gaze went to the inner door where her eldest daughter peeped through, holding her sisters back, just nine years old and already a mother to her siblings. She remembered her soft words of yesterday as she rubbed her mother’s aching back and calmed her that it would be a son this time and how she would look after her brother and care for him.

            Suddenly Uma wanted it all to stop. She wanted to hold the little scrap of humanity safe in her womb forever and protect her daughter. To give birth would be to sentence her to the hellish life of her sisters, mother and generations of women. If… if she was allowed to live.

            She knew why the official midwife had not been called this time, knew the meaning of the cauldron of milk kept in a corner of the room. She averted her eyes, her heart silently screaming at her unborn child to remain unborn. She sobbed aloud as pain tore through her and the women in the room suddenly came to life.

Uma  lost herself in a world of pain and prayer, Later, there was an easing of pain and the cry of a baby, Uma did  not know how long or short it had been. She did not open her eyes, not wanting to look at the child who would soon be cruelly snatched away from her, and was not it better this way. She hardened her heart against the inevitable pain and horror.

Loud clanging and joyous shouts, she opened her eyes startled. She looked into the ecstatic faces of her mother and sister-in-law. ‘It’s a son’- she ran to break the news to her anxiously waiting brother.

Uma turned her face away to the inner door and beckoned her daughters to her, opening her tired arms to them. As they came in timidly, Uma’s face broke into a smile.


News doing the rounds today.
  1. EXCLUSIVE: Uterus removal scam unearthed in Bihar
  2. Bangalore: Father poisons 20 day-old baby to death
  3. Media houses paid money to incite rapes, suicides: Mamata Banerjee
  4. Widow paraded half-naked in Bihar by her sons, daughters-in-law

If there’s a news/issue/event we need to be aware of, kindly send us links on @JusticeForWomen or our Facebook group.


National Girl Child Day was on January 24. It is no coincidence that we have a ‘ Girl Child Day’ and a ‘Women’s’ Day’ but no ‘days’ for boys/men. The boys need not feel disappointed; it means they, as a species, are not in danger. See, the basic idea behind having special days are for things which are in danger, so we have Women’s Day, Earth Day, Plantation Day and of course Girl Child Day. We have campaigns for the same reason, Save Tiger Campaign, Save the Sunderbans, Save the Rainforests of Africa, Save the Butterflies, Save the girl child.
What comes to my mind is that all these campaigns have failed, tigers almost extinct, it’s been ages since I saw a butterfly or a frog outside of a ‘protected environment’, Earth is slowly but surely choking to death, Forest cover is decreasing on a daily basis, so it will be with the girls.
Girls need to be safe and wanted, if we want humanity to survive , if … there is no compulsion, from what I have seen of humans there is actually no harm in letting it die.
There are many who believe that we don’t need a Women’s Day or A Girl Child Day. Women are equal to men and have made their mark in the world in all spheres. It is asked what more do we want?
Let me attempt to tell you.
I want the unborn girl child to be safe and get a chance to be born. There are six million missing girls and the number is increasing every year. I want doctors who conduct gender tests and abort female fetuses to be convicted.
I want the baby girl a chance to live as equally as her brother, have the same food and privileges of sleep and work and schooling. I want the young girl to be given equal chance to study and play, not become a mother to her younger siblings at a tender age as her own mother is further burdened by continuous childbirth.
I want her to study till she becomes capable of financial independence and understands herself. I want her to have toilets at her school so that she does not have to stay home due to this basic need.
I want her to have a choice of marriage, not that she be foisted on to the first ‘suitable’ man who is willing to take her with an affordable dowry. I want her t be wanted for herself not for the money, material goods she will bring. I want her to be loved and respected in her ‘new’ home not abused, tortured and burnt for greed.
I want her parents to support her if she decides to leave an abusive marriage, not push her to stay for social acceptance and then stare in grief at her dead body hanging from the ceiling fan.
I want her to be loved and respected as a daughter, wife and mother, not as a package foisted from father to husband to son. I want her to be respected for what she is, not for what she earns or does.
And more than anything I want her to be safe, safe from physical abuse and harassment. From a six month old baby girl to a seventy-five year old woman, no female is safe. And rape occurs within the boundaries of the known. And she is told to keep quiet for family honour.
I want her to be free to make choices… to be happy… to ….
I want …. I want ….
Is all this too much to want? 

As India celebrates its 66th Independence day today, on the 15th of August, us women are still struggling for our basic Rights promised to all citizens on the eve of this day, back in 1947 by our most trusted Constitution.

Although the Preamble is not an integral part of the Indian Constitution, it is a brief introductory statement that sets the guidelines of the legal document.

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a [SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens:JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the [unity and integrity of the Nation];

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.

For a country that is itself referred in feminine grammatical gender, its women are unsafe, unhappy, unrecognized and underpaid. “In India, women and girls continue to be sold as chattels, married off as young as 10, burned alive as a result of dowry-related disputes and young girls exploited and abused as domestic slave labour,” says Gulshun Rehman, health program development adviser at Save the UK, told Reuters during a recent poll conducted by TrustLaw, a legal news service by Thomson Reuters Foundation in which India leads the pack of G20 as the worst country for women to live.

This survey was based on Countries with policies that promote safe health care, freedom of violence, women in politics, workplace opportunities, access to resources like education and poverty rights, and ending human trafficking and slavery. India was chosen as the worst based on issues of infanticide, child marriage and slavery identified by a poll of 370 gender specialists worldwide.

We all know those aren’t the only issues that cripples our nation as far as gender equality and women empowerment is concerned.

The word ‘Socialist‘ was added to our Preamble in the 42nd Amendment and it implies social and economic equality i.e.  the absence of discrimination on the grounds only of caste, colour, creed, sex, religion, or language; Under social equality, everyone has equal status and opportunities. In paper though, it sounds ideal, has it really happened?

· Female feticide, infanticide, child marriage, domestic violence, sexual violence, and sexual harassment at the work place to the treatment meted out to elderly women makes any thinking person to wonder at the nature of the society. Participation of women in the decision-making bodies be they within the home, workplace or community is marginal, never reaching even 25% of the total population of women in India.

· Women are forced to change their jobs or seek transfers on account of Sexual Harassment.

· Most of the women’s work, inside the house goes unnoticed and unremunerated. Even outside the family they remain underpaid.

· In terms of horizontal segregation, women are concentrated in low –paying positions such as secretary, typist, beautician, nurse, caregiver and assembly – line worker. “Equal work but unequal pay” is still a common practice in India’s private sector.

· According to statistics from the United Nations “Women constitute 50% of the World population, do two third of the work, get 10% of the total income and own 1% of the total assets”. While this is a global fact, the picture is much more pathetic in India.

· Children living in this environment and witnessing the differential role pattern of the man and the woman learn the lessons of gender inequality right from their childhood and the pattern is bound to continue generation after generation.

· Women constitute a significant part of the workforce in India but they lag behind men in terms of work participation and quality of employment. According to Government sources, out of 407 million total workforce, 90 million are women workers, largely employed (about 87 percent) in the agricultural sector as labourers and cultivators. In urban areas, the employment of women in the organised sector in March 2000 constituted 17.6 percent of the total organised sector.

· The existence of discriminatory laws, the fact that the laws fail to take account of rural women’s special situation, and the adherence to paternalistic and male-oriented customs which hinder the implementation of, or fill the gaps in, non-discriminatory legislation, have helped to keep rural women in a subordinate position.  www.legalservicesindia.com

Nothing could be lower than the lowest that our women go through in this country, this section of women called the ‘Valmikis‘ or the manual scavengers of dry feces that clean out public toilets. In spite of modernization, major part of India still uses traditional dry, non-flush toilets that expose these manual scavengers to many bio-hazards such as “the most virulent forms of viral and bacterial infections which affect their skin, eyes, limbs, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. TB (tuberculosis) is rife among the community,” states the UN report.

Armed only with a tin plate and broom as proper equipment to protect them from illness is not provided to them, these women pile human feces into baskets and carry on their heads for distances up to 2 miles. Often the contents drip into their hair, faces, and bodies.

The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrine Act of 1993 states that, “No person shall engage in or employ for or permit to be engaged in or employed by any other person for manually carrying human excreta; or to construct or maintain a dry latrine.

In spite of its being “illegal” the practice and use of manual scavengers continues in many low-income urban and rural parts of India today. Legal loopholes and non-enforcement of the law on manual scavenging continues in many parts of India, even as organizations protecting the rights of manual scavengers present detailed reports.

Mahatma Gandhi, the father of this nation himself stated back in 1921, “Of all the evils for which man has made himself responsible, none is so degrading, so shocking or so brutal as his abuse of the better half of humanity; the female sex (not the weaker sex).”

  • 45% of Indian girls are married before the age of 18, according to the International Centre for Research on Women (2010).
  • 56,000 maternal deaths were recorded in 2010 (UN Population Fund).
  • Research from UNICEF in 2012 found that 52% of adolescent girls (and 57% of adolescent boys) think it is justifiable for a man to beat his wife.
  • According to the National Crime Records Bureau in India, there was a 7.1% hike in recorded crimes against women between 2010 and 2011.
  • The biggest leap was in cases under the Dowry Prohibition Act (up 27.7%), of kidnapping and abduction (up 19.4% year on year) and rape (up 9.2%).
  • A preference for sons and fear of having to pay a dowry has resulted in 12 million girls being aborted over the past three decades, according to a 2011 study by the Lancet.

These polls, numbers and statistics may highlight the grave situation in India, but even these cannot voice the hurt, pain, desolation, humiliation that women in our country go through everyday, to varying extent. There is a need to secure our women, give them opportunities to shine, let their voices be heard.

We do not agree to being the “weaker sex”. We do not want your charity, your pity or your security. All we need is your recognition, acceptance and respect so we can come out of the dark and live up to our full potential.

66 years down the line, we are still fighting for independence in hopes that one day it shall be ours.

Happy Independence Day to those that glide free for ours is yet to come.