Suruchi Gupta

City Life

India’s ‘Missing’ Girls

by on Mar.07, 2011, under City Life, Experiences, Miscellaneous

The Global Walk For India’s Missing Girls tool place in Kolkata on Marh 5, 2011. Though heart-warming to see that a commoner with no means organised the walk in this city, in my opinion, it turned out to be directionless. While there were placards and banners raised, in absence of any other voice, and rather smiling faces, the people gathered (around a crowd of 150 max I guess, including former actress Pallavi Chatterjee and two vans of Kolkata Police) did not have an agenda of how to speak about the issue to take it ahead. It appeared to be a lost cause especially at the end of the walk, when people gathered did not know what should they do after the walk had ended and Pallavi moved out of scene after getting clicked the appropriate photos.  Members of the group were spotted littering the premises with empty bottles instead (which was quite infuriating to the eyes).  But I hope and wish the efforts are continued next year, and a more organised structured walk takes place.

The following article was written before the walk took place. Got many interesting figures from a study of the Census, but did not include all. Read on…

Is 50 million missing girls in India too astonishing a figure to the ears? How about considering this a cause, instead of number only, and working on it as a human right issue? The campaign has started to gain ground in Kolkata, as the city is set to have its first peaceful walk on the cause, on March 5. For those unaware, the term ‘missing’ here refers to the man-made gap in the male-female sex ratio in past 100 years, during it, it is estimated, about 50 million girls have been killed.

Based on facts she unearthed while making the documentary film ‘Petals In The Dust: India’s Missing Girls‘, Nyna Pais-Caputi kick started walk in San Francisco and several other cities around the world last year, in order to raise awareness on the issue. The walk, in its second year, is being organised by Ruchira Choudhuri in Kolkata, who’s recently returned to the city after completing post-graduation in UK.

“I came across the cause on Facebook and thought about organising the walk here. Kolkata, I believe has NGO’s working on issues like support girl-child, against abuse, etc. But I have not come across an organisation working on the cause of female infanticide and foeticide,” says Ruchira.

“Yes, this walk in various parts of the world is specifically for Indian girls. Our Indian girls are being murdered daily (7000, according to findings) and so little is being done about it,” says Caputi, an Indian settled in San Francisco.

Indeed, the city, and West Bengal, is ‘believed’ to have a low rate of female infanticide and foeticide. But is it low enough that none focus on the issue? Or are the National Crime Records Bureau (2009) statistics of 63 reported cases of infanticide and 123 for foeticide so ridiculous that none consider it worth studying and negating in this city/state?

Author and activist Rita Banerji has been working on the ‘50 million missing campaign’ for past four years. “In our talks with people from rural areas, we have found that infanticide is resurging in West Bengal in a big way, as dowry has made inroads in the current to-be-married generation. Killing babies below four months old by putting salt in their mouth is the method used in this state. It needs investigation,” says Banerji.

“There is rampant infanticide and foeticide in this city too, alongside other forms of violence, even if one says that their rate in North India is much higher. But that girls are being killed should be seen the census figures, rather than these (above),” says Anuradha Kapoor, director, Swayam.

2001 Census figures state that the sex ratio in India is 933:1000, with that of rural India standing at 946 and urban India at 900. Kapoor shares that by nature’s rule, there should be more girls than boys, which is clearly changed in Indian case.

Interestingly, both Banerji and Caputi have chosen Internet as the primary medium to spread the message. “We say the government has been lazy, corrupt. But I say, we have also lost all sense of moral conduct. The movement not only wants the government to act, but also it is demanding proactive people,” says Banerji.

And a walk, believes Caputi, is one of the effective ways to take the message to people, government and organisations alike.

“More than numbers, it is a human rights disaster. People are not realising, that among other problems and rise in sexual violence against women, even rape of men by men will increase as this ‘missing’ system progresses,” says Banerji.

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